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Strong flash floods batter Saudi Arabia

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Heavy rainfall battered western, northern and central Saudi Arabia on November 17, 2015, causing strong flash floods across the affected areas. So far, 8 people died and one person, presumably a child, remains missing.

A spell of unusually severe rainstorms and strong winds hit Saudi Arabia on November 17. Jeddah has been hit the hardest, as up to 1 m (3.3 feet) of flood water has been reported to overflow some areas. At least 8 people have died so far, 2 of which have been electrocuted as power cables fell into flood water. Some media reported 12 victims, as of November 18. One person was reported missing in Hail province.

Video credit: GHIA COM TV

At least 16 people got stranded by flash floods in Makkah, according to Saudi Arabia's Civil Defence, while Medina, Hail and Arar were affected by severe weather conditions, as well.

72-hr rainfall accumulation as observed by GPM Core Observatory. Image credit: Google/NASA/JAXA GPM

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) 22 mm (0.9 inches) of rainfall fell in Jeddah in only 15 minutes, since 10:00 am (local time), on November 17. 59 mm (2.3 inches) was reported to fall in Tabuk in a 24 hour period between November 16 and 17. Al Wajh recorded 36 mm (1.4 inches) of rainfall.

Local officials have advised people to stay indoors.Traffic has been disrupted across the affected areas and several domestic flights from King Abdul Aziz's Airport have been canceled. Numerous trees have been uprooted and power outages have been reported in several places in Jeddah. Rescue teams received 3 000 emergency calls so far, according to Civil Defence statement.

Severe weather is expected to continue into the weekend, according to local meteorologists. Heavy rainfalls which are spreading over Iraq and Saudi Arabia are forecast to move into western Iran, as of November 18. 

Featured image: Strong flash flood in Saudi Arabia, November 18, 2015. Image credit: GHIA COM TV

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