Sandstorm blankets UAE

Sandstorm blankets UAE

ABU DHABI/DUBAI - Residents scurried for cover and traffic crawled as strong winds caused sandstorm across the UAE on Sunday. The inclement weather is expected to continue for two days, according to the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS).

By Staff Report

Published: Mon 27 Feb 2012, 12:31 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 4:44 PM

More unstable weather is forecast for Monday, but wind speeds will gradually fall over the next couple of days, and motorists have been warned of fog early in the morning.

Wind speeds clocked 25-35km/hr, the NCMS said. “Sea is rough in general in the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman,’’ according to the forecast. Waves can rise to 3-4 feet in height.

The paved sidewalk along the sea port area in Abu Dhabi lies covered in sand. — KT photo by Nezar Balout

Abdul Aziz Omer Al Shamsi, Director of the Dubai Police Operations Room, said 239 accidents were reported in the emirate, but none were major.

He said the accidents were caused by poor visibility. Some people were injured and were treated at the scene of the accidents. Gusts brought down trees and sign-boards and obstructed traffic flow. Seventy-three reports of fallen trees and road-signs came in from across Dubai, police said. Al Shamsi called on drivers to avoid speeding and to be more vigilant on the roads.

People trying to avoid the dust as they walk along Jumeirah Road near Dubai port on Sunday morning. — KT photo by Grace Guino

Motorists, particularly those driving on Sharjah’s external roads and highways have also been warned of the dusty conditions in store which could affect visibility.

Abu Dhabi police have urged motorists to exercise extra caution on the Abu Dhabi Island-Dubai road, Al Ain and Sila highway.

Colonel Khamis Ishaq Mohammed, Deputy Director, Directorate of Traffic and Patrol, asked drivers to avoid tailgating and leave sufficient distance between vehicles. ‘‘In strong winds, speeding vehicles are more unstable and harder to control.’’ he said.

He advised them to switch on their head-lights and avoid turning on their hazard lights, which could mislead others while changing lanes.

Some Dubai schools closed

Some schools in Dubai closed early on Sunday, and Mohammed Darwish, Chief of Regulations and Compliance Commission (RCC) of KHDA confirmed educational institutions are allowed close in case of bad weather.

He said: “Schools have the flexibility to shut early in response to the weather conditions and other operational issues prevailing on a particular day. KHDA trusts schools to make up for lost time and lessons in the subsequent days or weeks.

Every school in Dubai must complete 175 school days in an academic year. “As long as this is fulfilled, schools have the flexibility to do the needful whenever required,” Darwish said.

Waseem Kashimji, who travels from Dubai to Al Ain, said: “The visibility was very poor in the morning. It took an extra half hour to reach my workplace because of the wind and dust.”

Rida Faisal, a university student, said: “It was difficult to walk around the university campus because of the strong winds and the dust. Wearing contact lenses is also frustrating as I have to cover my eyes with sunglasses to avoid the dust.”

Operations at the Jebel Ali port were halted briefly on Sunday morning because of the deteriorating weather conditions. A spokesperson later confirmed the port had resumed operations.

(With inputs from Anwar Ahmed, Ahmed Al Majaida & Muaz Shabandri)

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