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UAE smashes 24-year-old rainfall record, widespread flooding and destruction reported


Non-stop heavy rain, which led to widespread flooding and destruction in the United Arab Emirates, broke the highest rainfall record since 1996. According to the National Center of Meteorology (NCM), as of Sunday, January 12, 2020, the highest amount of rain from January 9 to 12 was 190.4 mm (7.5 inches) in Al Shakla, Al Ain. One fatality was also reported in Ras Al Khaima.

The eastern region of the UAE recorded the heaviest amount of rain between Thursday, January 9 and Sunday morning, January 12, particularly in Mazayd with 172.4 mm (6.78 inches), Damtha with 172.2 mm (6.77 inches), Al Foah with 156.8 mm (6.17 inches), and Falaj Al Mualla with 152 mm (5.98 inches).

The last time the country saw such huge amounts of rain was 24 years ago in Khor Fakkan with 144 mm (5.66 inches) of accumulated rainfall.

Some of the areas badly hit by the strong storm were Sweihan and Alshwaib with 126 mm (4.96 inches), Al Arad with 123.6 mm (4.86 inches), and Al Raknah with 114.6 mm (4.51 inches).

In view of the severe weather, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development announced in a statement that 20 task forces were assigned to monitor road conditions across the country. Moreover, the team was prepared to respond to any situation that may occur as a result of damages triggered by the heavy downpours.

"Various regions of the country have witnessed unusually heavy rains, which caused rainwater to accumulate on the main roads and cause diversions on some intersections. The Ministry of Infrastructure Development, in coordination with local authorities, has deployed 20 teams to monitor the roads," the federal authority declared.

"The teams have been assigned to deal with three main tasks, which include the drainage of waterlogged roads, removing mud and heavy debris, as well as repairing roads that may have been damaged by the rain."

In Ras Al Khaimah, one woman of African descent was crushed to death after a wall collapsed during violent storms. The victim was believed to be working in a house in the Al Fahlain on Saturday, January 11, when the wall was knocked down.

Around 120 households in the area were forced to evacuate as torrential downpour left a trail of destruction. "Police efforts are still ongoing to deal with the reports regarding damages caused by overflowing valleys across the emirate,” said Major General Ali Al Nuaimi, commander-in-chief of Ras Al Khaima Police.

On Saturday morning, January 11, two Sudanese men were trapped in high levels of floodwater in Wadi Ghashabah, prompting a rescue by helicopter.

Meanwhile, one worker went missing after being swept away by floods in Waadi Shaam. Police have since conducted search and rescue operations.

Due to flooding, flights at Dubai International Airport were delayed on Saturday. A spokesman for the airport said operations continued to be affected on Sunday, January 12, by the heavy rains.

"We continue to work closely with our service partners to clear the backlog, restore full operations and minimize inconvenience to our customers."

Many schools decided on Sunday to close down as a precaution since road networks were inundated.

"We confirm that due to heavy rainfall and unstable weather conditions, a number of our schools had to be closed today. While we regret any inconvenience caused, the decision was made in the interests of the safety and security of our pupils and staff. Our teams are on the ground assessing the situation at each of the schools affected and we expect to be able to resume normal operations tomorrow,” said a Gems Education spokesperson.

NCM issued a severe weather warning advising citizens to be "extremely vigilant due to hazardous weather events of exceptional severity forecast." Furthermore, motorists were warned to avoid valleys and areas vulnerable to flooding. 

As of Monday morning, January 13, heavy to moderate showers continued to lash the UAE, particularly Fujairah, as per the national meteorological department.

Featured image credit: রাসেল বড়ুয়া সানি

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  1. they take the rain, play with machines, and other countries do not get the rain, these people have reaped what they have been sowing, now, turn that gear off and let the world share the natural flow of water !!!

  2. If you’re really sharp you’ll take note of the year when the last record was…1996…or in other places in the world. 1950/1951 shows up, and also late 1960s…

    Was it CO2? hahahahahahahahaaha

    Was it something else? Those who do not study history….are doomed to repeat it. I’ve been eating crow, would you like some?

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