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Storm plays havoc in the Northern Emirates

Staff Reporter (news@khaleejtimes.com) / 29 January 2011

Sudden gusts of wind kicking up dust caught people returning from mosques after Friday prayers and other residents by surprise in Dubai and Sharjah.

 Thunderstorms lashed Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.

The winds, packing up to 87 kmph at times, felled roadside billboards and dish TV antennas from rooftops and uprooted trees along roads. A few people suffered injuries as flying objects like satellite TV antennae hit them, while several vehicles were damaged after hoardings fell on them.



Visibility plunged low in these emirates, slowing down traffic. Some motorists preferred to park vehicleson roadsides and wait for the sandstorm to pass.

Some areas of Ras Al Khaimah went without power for a few hours.

The storm formed in the Arabian Gulf as part of an area of low pressure, an official at the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) told Khaleej Times.


The low pressure was on its course towards Southern Iran after impacting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, according to Emirates Meteorology Portal. It grew into a strong thunderstorm which moved gradually towards the Northern Emirates.

The coasts were affected by the storm which was accompanied by gusty winds of 47 knots (86.95 kmph). The Northern Emirates came under thunderous updrafts and downdrafts, the NCMS official said.


As a result, the temperature dipped to 18 degree Celsius in the afternoon.

In Dubai and Sharjah, the fierce winds threw up sand, which enveloped several areas. Residents reported seeing TV antennae toppling over buildings in International City, Deira and Bur Dubai.

Akram Baloch, a resident of Deira, said that some people were injured when the wind blew down an antennae. “In our neighbourhood, two people were injured,” said Baloch.

Garbage cans overturned in several areas of Dubai and Sharjah and rubbish was strewn about on the roads. This was again picked up by the winds and blown to other areas.

Road users were confronted by gushing winds with plastic bags and other rubbish slamming windshields of vehicles, reminding people of scenes from movies like ‘The Twister’.

Some of the DSF decorations along the Shaikh Zayed Road were damaged with poles being bent and broken. Road signs and banners were also reported damaged in the windy spell.

Residents caught in the sandstorm were seen scurrying for cover to protect themselves from the dust and sand.

Sharjah’s Buhairah and Al Haira Corniche bore the brunt of the damage with some power poles and trees getting uprooted, according to Anjad Police and municipality officials. Officials reported no serious accidents and said the situation was back to normal in a couple of hours after the debris was cleared from the area.

Water swelled in the Dubai Creek and the Sharjah Corniche which remained choppy for at least two hours.

In Umm Al Quwain, the thunderstorm uprooted trees. The wind tossed a big garbage bin up a few metres across King Faisal Road and deposited it on a road island.

Abu Dhabi experienced clear weather with parts of the region witnessing brief, yet strong winds. Some areas were cloudy.

“The winds were very strong but only for a few minutes. We thought it might bring a storm and rain, but as the winds calmed, the skies turned blue,” said Jamshed Ahmed, a resident of Freej Al Sahegh on the main Hamdan Street.

Clear day forecast

The NCMS forecast mostly clear sky today with some parts having partial clouds and medium winds.

The amount of clouds is expected to increase by afternoon and evening over islands and some northern areas, with a chance of rain at times.


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