Field teams from different government departments were out on the streets in full force after the rains on Thursday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: UAE residents woke up to the sound of strong winds and heavy rains early Thursday morning, even as the country coped with the impact of the adverse weather conditions with due preparedness over the course of the day.

Heavy rains and thunderstorms were reported in different parts of the country right from the wee hours of the morning.

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Most offices and schools operated online, as recommended by the authorities, resulting in fewer vehicles on the roads. While waterlogging was reported in scattered areas, inclement weather impacted flights to and from Dubai, resulting in some delays, diversions and cancellations.

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Flights cancelled, diverted

A Dubai International Airport (DXB) spokesperson confirmed that a total of 13 flights were cancelled Thursday morning. Moreover, five inbound flights were diverted overnight.

“Dubai Airports confirms that due to unsettled weather conditions, five inbound flights were diverted overnight. Additionally, nine arrivals and four outbound flights were cancelled,” the spokesperson said.

Emirates Airline announced reduced flight operations at Dubai International Airport due to the weather. Passengers flying into or out of Dubai on May 2nd should be prepared for potential delays and rescheduling,” the airline said while providing the list of flights that were cancelled for May 2.

Advisory for passengers

Passengers departing from Dubai’s airports were advised to allocate additional time for their journey to the airport, as road congestion was anticipated.

“We strongly encourage the utilisation of the Dubai Metro to get to DXB Terminals 1 and 3 wherever feasible,” the spokesperson said.

Metro hours extended

Dubai Metro operating hours were extended from 12am to 5am to facilitate the travel to the Dubai International Airport. Trains departed from Centrepoint Metro Station and only stopped at Emirates Metro Station, Airport Terminal 1, Airport Terminal 3 and GGICO stations.

Air Arabia also advised passengers flying from Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Ras Al Khaimah to plan for additional travel time to the airport due to weather conditions. The airline also recommended updating contact information in bookings to receive the latest flight updates.

Sharjah Airport advised travellers to arrive at the airport 3 hours before their departure time due to weather conditions and to check with the airline companies on their flight updates.

In Abu Dhabi, Zayed International Airport and Etihad Airways urged passengers to allow adequate time to arrive at the airport. 

Field teams on overdrive

Across the emirates, the authorities deployed resources to minimise rain disruptions on the streets. They went all out to ensure public safety.

Late on Wednesday night, Dubai Media Office shared videos that showed the preparations in place by different departments.

Authorities deployed several trucks to clear the anticipated waterlogging on the streets. They also took measures to cover and secure heaps of sand that had accumulated on the roadside after the deluge last month.Measures were also taken to clear drainage systems, remove debris, and deploy water pumps to ensure that rainwater is drained efficiently, minimising the risk of flooding.

The police were also strategically positioned at key junctions to regulate traffic, divert vehicles away from flooded areas, and maintain order on the roads.

Intercity bus services, ferry services suspended

RTA’s traffic management centres utilised advanced technology and real-time data to monitor traffic patterns, identify congestion hotspots, and implement alternative routes to alleviate traffic jams caused by rain.

RTA suspended intercity bus services and advised commuters to follow social media channels for further updates regarding the service resumption.

In the afternoon, RTA announced the temporary suspension of ferry routes on Al Ghubaiba-Marina Mall; Dubai Water Canal-AL Ghubaiba; Dubai Water Canal-AL Ghubaiba; Bluewaters-Marina Mall; and Al Ghubaiba-Sharjah Aquarium. It has urged commuters to check its social media channels for any updates. This applies even to some roads that have been closed as a precautionary measure.

Parks and beaches remained temporarily shut for the day but reopened by the evening.

Health facilities closed

Dubai residents were urged to call Dubai Health before visiting its facilities on Thursday since the authority had closed some health centres and changed the opening hours of some other facilities.

In a social media post, Dubai Health said: “Due to expected adverse weather, our operational hours have changed. Please contact us on 80060 before visiting Dubai Health hospitals, ambulatory health centres, or medical fitness centres to avoid inconveniences.”

Residents can book the telehealth service via the Dubai Health app, the authority said. It also published a list of its facilities with their operational hours and urged residents to follow its social media pages for the latest updates.

Out of concern for the safety of the public, Sharjah Municipality also announced the closure of medical fitness centers on Thursday due to the weather conditions.

Abu Dhabi briefly revised speed limits on some roads as streets reported waterlogging due to the heavy rains. On Wednesday, they had duly cautioned motorists and delivery bike riders to take all precautionary measures during the rains.

The National Centre of Emergency Management and Crisis (NCEMA) encouraged the public to strictly follow all instructions and guidelines issued by relevant authorities for the safety of lives and property.