Saudi Arabia deserts covered in snow, followed by deadly floods

Saudi Arabia deserts covered in snow, followed by deadly floods

The deserts of Saudi Arabia were covered in snow at the end of November 2016, bringing joy to surprised Saudis who marked the occasion building snowmen. However, the weather soon turned very serious, and deadly. The first snowfall in northern parts of the country was reported on November 23.

The snowfall came after temperatures dropped below 0 °C (32 °F) in central and northwestern regions of the country, which tend to see daily high temperatures of around 20 °C (68 °F), even in November.

In the central city of Shakra’ and the northwestern city of Tabuk, thin layers of snow carpeted the ground. In Tabarjal, a town located in the northern Al-Jawf region temperatures reached -3 °C (26.6 °F), and in Al-Quryat, a northern province, the temperature was -1 °C (30.2 °F), the AlArabiya reported on November 27.

For Saudi Arabia, mid-October is generally the short-lived peak rainfall season, but the country is still experiencing some light to medium showers this year.

Although this unusual event was initially greeted with joy, as the temperatures rose and the rains continued, parts of the country were flooded, leaving at least 7 people dead by Tuesday, November 29.

According to AlArabiya article published today, at least seven people died and many others were injured or trapped by heavy rain and floods that swept various regions of Saudi Arabia by Tuesday.

The dead included three young Saudi men in Bisha, two others in Baha and two expatriates who were struck by a thunderbolt in Qunfudah.

Flood in Qunfudhah, Saudi Arabia, November 2016

Flood in Qunfudhah, Saudi Arabia, November 2016. Credit: Saudi Arabia Civil Defence

Torrential floods also destroyed a number of houses, blocked roads and overturned vehicles. The rain and floods in the last few days uncovered the ineffective drainage systems in many parts of the country, the paper said. The rain inundated various parts of Qunfudah governorate and washed away large sections of the International Road linking Jeddah and Jazan.

Bisha was lashed by heavy rain for more than three hours, leaving three people dead and two others injured in a traffic accident in the city.

The rain flooded Wadi Houran, in the southwest of the governorate, causing cracks in the road leading to Arar in the north of the Kingdom. The rain also caused a number of cars to overturn or skid off roads.

Professor of climate science at Qassim University, Abdallah al-Musanad, said that this is “the second rainfall this season,” even though 40 days have passed since the end of rain season.

In January 2016, snow was reported in the area between Mecca and Medina for the first time in 85 years.

Featured image: Snowfall in northern Saudi Arabia, November 23, 2016. 


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Kathryn Stewart-McDonald 4 years ago

This is so upsetting. Climate change is the most serious of all our international problems, if we don't do something we will lose the future potential of our species as we ruin our global environment.

chahd zouhair 4 years ago

omg!! snow in saudi arabia i never saw that in my whole life i am in UAE and it is very cold here too the wind is very strong. it was very hot it was like 50 degrees and today it is very cold i am amazed.

Hanora Brennan 4 years ago

You would think that at the very least their infrastructure would be halfway decent given the trillions of petro dollars they amass each year.

Alex 4 years ago

oh no global warming wow! Were entering a grand solar mininium but The Watchers will not tell you that! Wonder why? Seems like 2/3 of there stories are about global warming when there is going to be more floods and colder conditions, higher food prices to come. Get with the program and prepare the people THE WATCHERS!

Kimbal (@Alex) 4 years ago

According to scientists solar minimum can affect weather extremes, but most agree does not effect warming. Not being presumptuous and talking about you personally of course, but most people love to see everything in black and white/right and wrong. I would imagine there are more than one (and probably more than two) phenomena(s) affecting climatic changes. Regardless of colder or hotter conditions, I have no doubts about high food prices.

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