Al Ain: Forecasters expect the country to experience the heaviest rain since mid-2000s, saying the unstable weather that led to hailstorm and torrential rain across the country could continue until Saturday afternoon.
Heavy rain, winds, thunder, and hailstorm played havoc across the country on Thursday, throwing the normal pace of life into a disarray and inundating low-lying roads and areas.
What’s causing this weather pattern?
The national weather bureau said the system was a result of an atmospheric low pressure that has affected the entire Arabian Gulf region.
Mohammad Al Abri, a senior official of the NCMS, said a cold trough had been passing over the emirates, leading to cloud formation, lightning and rain. The system has been moving towards north-east which will lead to moderate to heavy rain along its path. Rain and thunderstorms are likely to hit the country intermittently until Saturday.
The weather system has moved in from the upper Arabian Gulf after unleashing torrential rain in Kuwait, Bahrain, eastern Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The NCMS had been warning of it for the last several days.
However, the weather pattern is not unusual, said Ibri, as the Arabian region has experienced such conditions in the past. The UAE too has experienced thunderstorms and torrential rain in 2006.
For today, forecasters have predicted more rain and have asked people to stay indoors. The western region of Abu Dhabi Emirate and cities on the western coastline have borne the brunt of the heaviest downpour in years.
Since the weather system moved in, police in different emirates have been continuously issuing alerts asking motorists to exercise caution while driving due to reduced visibility, winds, and slippery conditions on the road.
Yesterday, rain started at around 12:30am along with strong winds, lightning and thunder in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. The unstable weather later moved on to other emirates. Residents in Al Hamra, a town in the western region, reported heavy hailstorm with snowballs as big as three to four inches.
Flash floods also damaged roads and highways in Sila and other mountainous areas. Emergency and rescue teams went into action to help people stuck in difficult situations. A second spell of rain hit different cities later on Thursday afternoon.
Authorities in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Al Ain closed down schools for the day, many important events and activities were called off yesterday such as the Dubai Air Show, and work stopped at most construction sites. On many roads across the country, traffic clogged on different highways due to pooled rainwater and accidents.
Thunderstorm and strong winds uprooted many trees, electric poles in Ruwais, Al Ain and some other cities. Conditions are not much different in Mirfa and the neighbouring areas. The thunderstorm later moved on to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, and Ras Al Khaimah leading to moderate to heavy rains. Fujairah also received its share a little later and rainwater started flowing down the mountain peaks all along the eastern emirates.
Heavy downpour also flooded the drainage system in Al Ain and rainwater entered residential areas and a shopping mall in Al Jimi district. Trees were uprooted and emergency services were struggling to keep the situation under control.
The morning traffic flow faced the major impact of the troubled weather in all major cities on the western coastline. Ministry of Education closed down schools and dozens of accidents were reported from across the nation.
An official of the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) provided rainfall estimates for some areas in the Abu Dhabi emirate:
Delma 80mm rain early on Thursday morning
Al Yasat 38.4mm
Sir Bani Yas 29.2mm
Al Ruwais 25.8mm
Tarfa 14mm since Wednesday night.
Delma’s rain figures jumped to 189mm by midday yesterday, and to 85mm in Al Ruwais.
“It was the ferocious thunderstorm I have seen during my 20 years stay in the emirates,” said Mohammad Ghazi, a resident of Al Ain. Ghazi was in his office when a deafening thunderbolt shook him up at 9.58am. “I jumped out of the office and surprised to see the blinding downpour,” he said.
“The storm damaged makeshift houses and camps in the desert and water streams were flowing in the streets at around 10am,” said Syed Hasnain, an expatriate in Liwa, who had not seen such a heavy rain and thunderstorm in his life.