Muscat: Hundreds of government and private schools across much of the Sultanate remained shut on Saturday in anticipation of another bout of stormy weather predicted this week.
The Directorate-General of Meteorology and Air Navigation (DGMAN), in its weather bulletin issued late on Friday, predicted sporadic thundershowers, hail and strong winds across much of the northern half of the country through Monday.
The advisory prompted the Ministry of Education to order the closure of all schools within its purview, with the exception of those in the central and southern governorates of the country. Dozens of expatriate community and private schools too followed suit, announcing closures of their facilities in Muscat governorates and parts of the coastal Batinah regions.
Torrential rain since last Tuesday, blamed on a low pressure build-up over the Sultanate, has so far claimed four lives and triggered a near full-scale mobilisation of the machinery of the Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA). The Aviation Wing of the Royal Oman Police too has scrambled its helicopters on numerous occasions in response to emergencies, involving mainly the rescue of people trapped in flooded wadis or homes.
On Friday alone, a total of 164 people were rescued in various locations across the Sultanate as heavy rain accompanied by gusting winds drenched large areas of the country. They included many people who had to be evacuated from homes threatened by rising floodwaters from overflowing wadis. Units of the Royal Air Force of Oman were also in action on Friday, joining emergency teams from PACDA and the Royal Oman Police in responding to contingencies.
A statement issued by the Met Office warned of thundershowers through Monday over the governorates of Muscat, North and South Batinah, North and South Sharqiya, Buraimi, Musandam, Dakhiliya and Dhahirah. Civil Defence authorities have also urged people to keep abreast of regular weather updates, warning that dry and sunny conditions one day could quickly deteriorate into wet and windy conditions the next, underscoring the unpredictable nature of the current weather situation in Oman.