Dubai: Residents of the UAE woke up to a significant drop in temperature on Friday as unstable weather conditions prevailed throughout the day. Temperatures reached sub-zero at the top of Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah in the morning as cold winds lashed the country.
Videos shared by the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) showed what it called a snowfall in portions of the mountaintop around 11am on Friday as the mercury dropped to -2.2 degree Celsius at the weather station there at 9am.
“The beginning of snowfall over Jais mountain #NCMS station recorded 2.2 below zero at 9am,” the NCMS tweeted.
The cold air mass affecting the country this weekend is due to a low pressure in the south of Iran extending to the UAE and north of Oman. This led to a significant drop in temperatures across the country.
The surrounding areas in Ras Al Khaimah are expected to have an average temperature of between 18C and 22C on Saturday. The rest of the country will have below 20C on average.
Motorists are cautioned to drive safely especially when visibility is poor due to blowing dust and possibility of rain in coastal areas.
The weather forecast for Saturday included rain, hail stones, and strong North-Westerly winds up to 75-80km/h, blowing sand and dust in scattered areas.
The NCMS issued a warning on Friday cautioning motorists to drive carefully as visibility dropped to 100 metres in some areas.
With sandstorms hitting the country, temperatures were reported between 12C and 17C during the day and dropped further late in the evening.
The temperature at the top of Jebel Jais saw a slight increase from -2.2C to -0.3C by 2pm, and temperatures in Mabrah Mountain were also reported to be -0.7C, said the forecaster.
Wind speeds of 55km/h was recorded at 11am at Al Maktoum International Airport and winds blew at almost the same speed at Al Hamra, Al Sweihan, Al Dhafra and Al Minhad.
The NCMS also warned residents to stay away from the sea, with waves reported to be as high as 15 feet.
For the next 48 hours, strong winds are expected to decrease, and temperatures are expected to rise by Saturday evening, said the forecaster.
Weather on Saturday is expected to be cloudy especially over areas in the north of the UAE. Fresh winds during the daytime will cause blowing of dust along with poor visibility, followed by moderate winds by night time.
Due to current bad weather conditions, and in order to ensure the safety of people, Global Village’s management decided to close the venue on Friday.
Global Village will open its doors back on Saturday, starting 4pm welcoming its guests with regular operations.
Past snowfall in Jebel Jais
Below freezing temperatures have happened in Jebel Jais as cold snaps are a common occurrence in the country during winter.
The first heavy snowfall in living memory for residents was recorded on Ra’alat Al Jais, also in Ras Al Khaimah in December 2004. It spanned an area of 1km.
In January 2012, it snowed again and in January 2009 the mountain had around 20cm of snow extending over 5km. The extreme cold spell brought the mercury down to -3°C on top of the Jebel Jais.
Residents enjoy rain and cold spell
Despite strong winds and temperatures dropping below 12 degree Celsius in the UAE this weekend, some residents decided to embrace the winter weather by taking to the outdoors.
While some took the drop in temperature as a chance to enjoy camping in Al Qudra, others drove up to Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah to enjoy the snow and sub-zero weather.
Indian resident Sumesh Das told Gulf News that he went camping on Thursday night with his wife and two children. “It was rainy, windy and chilly, but as a family, we love the outdoors. We cooked some hot dogs and brought sandwiches from home, and enjoyed watching the migrating birds and flamingoes in the morning,” said Das.
However, his plan to visit Jebel Jais in the afternoon had to be cancelled as the police closed the road to the mountain due to severe weather conditions.
Pakistani expatriate Ahmad R. spent the Friday morning with a friend on Jebel Jais taking pictures of the rare sight of snow. “There were hail stones and a steady drizzle while driving up the mountain, and very low visibility. I have never seen so many people and traffic in the mountain,” he said.
People of different nationalities, including Emiratis, headed for the mountains along with children in “colourful jackets and monkey caps” enjoying the snow and taking pictures, he said.
In Dubai, some residents decided to enjoy the rain from their balconies or by simply stepping out for a coffee in the fresh air.
Egyptian Kholoud Kotait said she had planned a dinner out with friends as soon as she found out it was going to rain. “We don’t get rain here, and so it was a chance to get out with friends and enjoy the feeling of rain,” she said.
Kotait said after a day out on Thursday evening, she decided to head to the mall on Friday as the rain was accompanied by strong dust and wind. “I love the rain and even the sight of hail stones, but when there’s dust, I prefer to stay indoors,” she added.