Dubai: Skies cleared, rain stopped and road traffic is back to normal in most areas of the UAE early on Thursday.
After a chaotic day on the roads on Wednesday, mainly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, normalcy returns on Thursday.
Though forecasters predict unstable weather on Thursday, motorists on Dubai and Sharjah roads seem to be unperturbed and going about their daily grind as usual.
Rain, strong winds disrupt life across UAE on Wednesday
Rain and thunderstorms caused major disruptions across the UAE on Wednesday as flights were cancelled, motorists were stuck for hours, traffic on major roads diverted and schools were closed.
Wind gusts of up to 130 kph shattered glass windows while flooded roads stalled life and even caused the Abu Dhabi stock market to shut down trading.
Schools in Dubai sent their students earlier, while some parents reported hours of delay in their children's school bus service.
Police issued safety warnings to motorists. Accidents were reported, while flashfloods in low-lying areas in the eastern emirates of Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah were also reported.
Several events were cancelled or suspended for the day, including Abu Dhabi Expo and Dubai Canvas festival activities.
Following are the latest updates:
9.07pm: The highest wind gust was recorded at 130 km/hr at Al Bateen Airport, associated with different intensities of rain. The highest accumulative rainfall amount since Saturday evening till this Wednesday was 294.4 mm, equivalent to 11.59 inches -- or almost one foot. Valley runoffs were also witnessed in parts of UAE.
8.17pm: Motorist were stuck for hours on Shaikh Zayed Road -- one of the busiest highways in Dubai -- on Wednesday, due to waterlogging from the heavy rains that hit Dubai.
Brigadier Omar Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, Deputy Director of the General Department of Operations at Dubai Police, said that Dubai police are diverting people on the Abu Dhabi-to-Dubai direction to Seih Shuaib because of large pools of water that have accumulated on the main thoroughfare linking UAE's two major cities.
"People should avoid taking Shaikh Zayed Road to Dubai because of the water. Instead they should take Seih Shuaib which will take them to Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed road and Emirates road into Dubai."
He said that other road conditions are normal, and that this was the only problem area causing serious traffic congestions.
Brig Al Shamsi said Dubai Municipality and the Roads and Transportation Authority (RTA), are on the ground there working to siphon off the water from the road using pumps.
He denied reports that the traffic from Abu Dhabi into Dubai is being diverted back to Abu Dhabi at the border.
Dubai to Sharjah
Traffic started building up in Dubai on all major highways heading to Sharjah, from as early as 2pm. On Shaikh Zayed Road, tailback could be seen as far back as Abu Dhabi border, while Ittihad Road, Mohammad Bin Zayed road and Emirates Road were also been badly affected with tailbacks of vehicles more than 20 kms. All major roads in Dubai and Sharjah faced gridlocks higher than usual.
Traffic jams could be seen on Al Ain Road, Ras Al Khor road and Al Khail road as well. Airport tunnel and Shindagha tunnel are also facing congestions.
Some people faced difficulties entering communities like Discovery Garden and Barrari because if the large water that had collected in thee areas.
Videos of cars almost fully submerged in water in areas such as Jebel Ali and Dubai Investment Park, were circulating on social media.
8.11pm: Traffic on Shaikh Zayed road has been diverted to Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed road between interchange 7 and Seih Al Shuaib interchange near Abu Dhabi border.
According to RTA's Director of Traffic, Hussain Al Bannah, Shaikh Zayed Road has been temporarily closed between these two interchanges to facilitate removal of water from the highway as well as in the surrounding area. He said that this portion the road will be reopened as soon as work is done.
7.21pm: A senior source at the Abu Dhabi Civil Defence has said that no reports of major injuries or casualties have been received today (March 9).
Major General Jassem Al Marzouqi, Commander-in-Chief of the Abu Dhabi Civil Defence, said that there had been no reported deaths from incidents, although massive property damage has occurred in Wednesday’s rainstorm in Abu Dhabi.
“Civil Defence personnel worked tirelessly all day to remove water from under bridges and tunnels, and to remove hundreds of uprooted trees and other debris from the roads,” he said. The extent of property damage will be estimated over the next 48 hours by specialised committees.
“In the meantime, we urge residents to stay indoors as the weather conditions are still very unstable. This is especially the case in remote locations in Al Ain and the Western Region, which can experience flash floods in the valleys during such torrential rains,” Al Marqouqi said.
This video was taken on Friday morning by GN reader Gopal M.K. from the premises of Mezon Stainless Steel in Jebel Ali Freezone (south) where he works. Electricity was shutdown at the company's warehouse and all the workers were sent home. "Our warehouse was flooded with up to four feet of water," he said. "I had to abandon my car (white Lexus, shown in the video) as water rose really fast."
6:30pm: Dubai Police are diverting some traffic coming from Abu Dhabi towards Dubai to manage traffic flow on Shaikh Zayed Road, a police official has told Gulf News. The official denied reports that the traffic from Abu Dhabi into Dubai is being turned back to Abu Dhabi at the border. “Police patrols are just diverting some of the traffic to Al Faya road, to avoid traffic congestion and organise the flow of traffic on major roads," he said.
Traffic started building up in Dubai on all major highways heading to Sharjah, from as early as 2pm. On Shaikh Zayed road, tailback could be seen as far back as Abu Dhabi border, while Ittihad Road, Mohammad Bin Zayed Road and Emirates Road have also been affected. All major roads in Dubai and Sharjah are facing gridlocks higher than usual.Traffic jams could be seen on Al Ain Road, Ras Al Khor road and Al Khail road as well. Airport tunnel and Shindagha tunnel are also facing congestions.
6:15pm: National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) has said that the unstable weather currently affecting the country would continue as clouds gather with formation of some cumulus clouds and increasing thunderstorms.
In a statement, weathermen said this unstable weather will last until Thursday evening. The NCMS forecast rainfall of different intensity in many areas, leading to flooding in valleys near the highlands in the eastern and northern areas of the country.
It added that the wind will be moderate to brisk, and the Arab Gulf and the Arabian Sea will be sometimes rough. The centre revealed that the highest rain recorded in Al-Shuaib area reached 240 cubic millimetres, and the highest wind speed recorded at Bateen Airport until 11am Wednesday reached 126 km per hour.
5.55pm: A Dubai traffic police source said it is untrue that Dubai police patrols are turning motorists back to Abu Dhabi.
“Patrols are just diverting some of the traffic to Al Faya Road, to avoid traffic congestions and organise the flow of traffic.”
4.14pm: Some parents report their school-going children in Dubai arrived more than two hours late from school due to traffic created by water-logged roads in certain areas of the city.
3.39pm: The Abu Dhabi bourse suspended trade on Wednesday due to bad weather, Al Arabiya television news reported.
A lightning strikes a building's lightning rod near the Burj Khalifa tower, the world's tallest building, in Dubai on Friday. Photo courtesy GN reader: Richard Roberts
3.38pm: All public parks in Sharjah to remain closed on Wednesday due to the bad weather.
3.32pm: Rain, flooding and heavy winds could affect some of outdoor events in the UAE over the weekend.
Global Village will remain closed on Wednesday due to “current bad weather conditions”, it was announced.
However, organisers of Taste Of Dubai, a three-day outdoor food festival starting on Thursday evening, say the event will go “full steam ahead”.
2.54pm: An urgent stop of lifting operations using mobile cranes, working at heights and the movement of heavy vehicles and equipment has been announced in Abu Dhabi.
2.31pm: All schools in the UAE will close on Thursday, said Mohammed Darwish of the KHDA.
2.22pm: Parking in Sharjah will be free all day due to bad weather.
2.10pm: Dubai’s Global Village to remain closed today due to heavy rain.
1.53pm: All private and public schools in the UAE will close on Thursday, according to Minister of Education Hussain Al Hammadi.
1.40pm: Abu Dhabi International Airport announces resumed flight operations. Passengers are advised to contact their respective airlines for an update on their flight schedule prior to heading to the airport.
12.57pm: Residents in Abu Dhabi were urged not to leave their homes or workplaces unless in an emergency.
Aweida Al Marar, chairman of municipal sector regulator in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport (DMA), told Gulf News that this is the best safety measure for the time.
12.50pm: Flights at Abu Dhabi International have been suspended due to the adverse weather conditions across the United Arab Emirates.
The suspension has forced flights to divert to Al Ain International, an airport on the Abu Dhabi and Oman border, and to Dubai International, according to the airports website.
12.34pm: Following heavy rain and thunder in Abu Dhabi, traffic officials called upon motorists to avoid driving except in emergencies.
Damage to a building in Reem Island, Abu Dhabi, caused by bad weather. Picture: Emma O'Reilly
12.25pm: Abu Dhabi Air Expo, which is being held at Al Bateen Airport, was disrupted due to heavy rain for the second day on Wednesday.
Organisers did not allow people to enter the main exhibiting area. A scheduled press conference at 11:30 am has been cancelled. Officials are yet to issue a statement whether the air expo is cancelled for the day or whether it will be extended.
12.21pm: Sharjah Police confirmed the road to Wadi Helo has been closed to traffic from two directions because of heavy rainfall and flash flooding.
12.04pm: Heavy rain marked by thunder and lightning resumed on Wednesday morning in Abu Dhabi after what seemed like mostly sunny skies after dawn.
11.18am: Many Dubai schools asked parents to pick their children up and close early due to the heavy rain and thunderstorms. See the full list of closed schools here.
10.37am: Residents in Jebel Ali reported waterlogged roads due to heavy rain, thunder and lightning from 9am.
8.58am Rain clouds have reached Dubai, bringing heavy showers over Al Maktoum International Airport at around 8.30am on Wednesday.
Contributors: Noorhan Barakat, Aghaddir Ali, Samihah Zaman, Faisal Masudi, Suchitra Chaudhary Vajpai, Noor Nazzal, Alexander Cornwell, Derek Baldwin, Jumana Khamis, Janice Ponce de Leon, Ahmed Ramzan