Flooding after storm dumps a year and a half’s worth of rain on parts of UAE

17 April 2024, 05:04

Arabian Peninsula Rain
Arabian Peninsula Rain. Picture: PA

The death toll in separate heavy flooding in neighbouring Oman rose to 18 with others still missing.

Heavy thunderstorms lashed the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, dumping more than a year and a half’s worth of rain on the desert city-state of Dubai in the span of hours as it flooded out portions of major highways and its international airport.

Meanwhile, the death toll in separate heavy flooding in neighbouring Oman rose to 18 with others still missing as the nation prepared for the storm.

The rains began late on Monday, soaking the sands and roadways of Dubai with some 0.79 inches of rain, according to meteorological data collected at Dubai International Airport.

The storms intensified at around 9am local time on Tuesday and continued throughout the day, dumping more rain and hail onto the overwhelmed city.

By the end of Tuesday, more than 5.59 inches of rainfall had soaked Dubai over 24 hours.

An average year sees 3.73 inches of rain at Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel and a hub for the long-haul carrier Emirates.

Arabian Peninsula Rain
Parts of major highways were flooded and vehicles were left abandoned on roadways across Dubai (Jon Gambrell/AP)

At the airport, standing water lapped on taxiways as aircraft landed. The airport ended up halting arrivals on Tuesday night and passengers struggled to reach terminals through the floodwater covering surrounding roads.

Police and emergency personnel drove slowly through the flooded streets of Dubai, their emergency lights shining across the darkened roads.

The city’s driverless Metro saw disruptions and flooded stations.

Schools across the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms, largely shut ahead of the storm and government employees were largely working remotely if able.

Many workers stayed home as well, though some ventured out, with the unfortunate stalling out their vehicles in deeper-than-expected water covering some roads.

Authorities sent tanker trucks out into the streets and highways to pump away the water. Water poured into some homes, forcing people to leave their houses.

The country’s hereditary rulers offered no overall damage information or injury information for the nation, as some slept in their flooded vehicles on Tuesday night.

Arabian Peninsula Rain
Vehicles drive through heavy rain on the Sheikh Zayed Road highway in Dubai (Jon Gambrell/AP)

In Ras al-Khaimah, the country’s northernmost emirate, police said one 70-year-old man died when his vehicle was swept away by floodwater.

Fujairah, an emirate on the UAE’s eastern coast, saw the heaviest rainfall on Tuesday with 5.7 inches falling there.

Authorities cancelled school and the government instituted remote work again for Wednesday.

Rain is unusual in the UAE, an arid, Arabian Peninsula nation, but occurs periodically during the cooler winter months. Many roads and other areas lack drainage given the lack of regular rainfall, causing flooding.

Rain also fell in Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In neighbouring Oman, a sultanate that rests on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, at least 18 people had been killed in heavy rains in recent days, according to a statement on Tuesday from the country’s National Committee for Emergency Management.

That includes some 10 schoolchildren swept away in a vehicle with an adult, which saw condolences come into the country from rulers across the region.

By Press Association

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