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Oman hit by 4 months’ worth of rain in 1 day, severe flash floods and freezing temperatures


Heavy rain triggered flash flooding across parts of Oman on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, with temperatures plummeting below freezing and snow in some areas.

Capital city Muscat recorded whopping 56 mm (2.2 inches) of rain in a 24-hour period into Thursday, January 16. This is 4.3 times its average January rainfall (12.8 mm / 0.5 inches). Many residents were trapped in flooded cars, homes, with some even sustaining various injuries, according to state broadcaster Oman TV.

The Oman Meteorological office said -2 °C (28.4 °F) was recorded in the peninsula's tallest peak Jabal Shams on Wednesday. Last year, the temperature in the area was around 5 °C (41 °F).

Residents near the peak standing 3 000 m (9 842 feet) said roads were cut off due to snow and flood, trapping them in their homes.

"We will run out of food if the bad weather continues. The lower areas of the town are flooded with rainwater and higher areas are full of snow. We will have to wait and see what happens in the next 24 hours," said 42-year-old Jabal Shams farmer, Firas Al-Ruqaishi.

According to the Met office, further rain is expected in the following days across the country.

Capital Muscat recorded 56 mm (2.2 inches) of rain in just 24 hours. On average, Muscat receives just 12.8 mm (0.5 inches) in the entire month of January. The wettest month in Muscat is February, with 24.5 mm (0.96 inches).

"I could not go to work this morning because the roads are flooded. It is too dangerous to be out there. Two cars have collided with each other this morning right in front of my gate," said 29-year-old IT engineer, Hamed Al Ismaili from Seeb, north Muscat.

In the low-lying town of Al Ansab, some people said they were forced to evacuate on Tuesday night, January 14.

"It was too risky to sleep in the house. Our front and back yards were full of water. I had to move my family out of the house and stay with my cousin in another town," 67-year-old Khalid Al  Esri said, a retired civil servant.

Officials warned motorists to avoid the roads unless necessary. The major concern, however, was for wadi area residents. According to local media, floods washed away some cars and damaged a few properties.

Furthermore, more than 200 people sustained injuries in the city, but no fatalities were reported.

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"Laborers are exposed to bad weather because they live in wooden huts with little protection. I helped two of them and put them in my car and drove them to the hospital emergency unit. One of them had slipped and sustained a broken wrist," said 22-year-old student Ahmed Al Shehi.

According to Al Jabal construction company supervisor Harish Chowdhary, over 50 workers had to be evacuated after a powerful current swept away their temporary accommodation.

"The ground their wooden accommodation was standing on gave way and a strong water current swept it 200 m (656 feet) away. It is that bad," Chowdhary said.

Meanwhile, in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, heavy rain and flooding since January 9 have killed one person in Al Fahlain. Furthermore, parts of southern Iran remain inundated after downpours submerged Sistan and Baluchestan, Hormozgan, and Kerman provinces, killing three people.

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Featured image credit: Public Authority of Civil Defence And Ambulance

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