'Obsessed with UAE rains': Meet 27-year-old storm chaser

Wherever and whenever it rains in the Emirates, you will find Fahad Mohamad there, getting drenched and documenting it

by

Nandini Sircar

/

Waad Barakat

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Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Published: Thu 28 Dec 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 28 Dec 2023, 10:41 PM

Fahad Mohamad Abdul Rehman is ‘obsessed’ with chasing storms. The 27-year-old feels a profound connection to the raw power of nature, with its beauty and unpredictability drawing him in.

The nation keenly follows a UAE group ‘Storm Centre’ that tracks crucial weather updates and captivating visuals, and Fahad Mohamad plays a pivotal role as one of its key figures on this social media platform.

The UAE’s veteran weather enthusiast can now even interpret cloud formations merely by observing the sky, to anticipate the likelihood of a storm forming.

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The young Emirati has been vigilantly tracking cloud movements for a decade now, ever ready to traverse mountains and seas to encounter nature’s captivating mysteries, not only within the UAE but across the region.

“I am obsessed with chasing storms. I got addicted to this and it became my passion when I was in college. I lack formal weather-related degrees but it’s more than a hobby now,” said the man, who holds a diploma in Computer Science.

His love for rain

“Once, as I headed to college, I encountered a fierce storm on the day our campus shifted to the Dubai-Ain Road," recounts Fahad. "That encounter sparked a desire to document rainfall during summer and share with others a visual story of summer rains. Summer rains were unheard of at that time. That proved to be the trigger.”

He soon realized that he wasn't alone in his love for the rain.

“It was during this time that I learnt that Omar Al Nuaimi had established a weather forum in the country named the ‘Storm Center’. Originally, it was titled the ‘Hurricane Center’. However, as we acquainted ourselves, we decided to rename it to the Storm Centre.”

Upon heading down to a site Fahad first enjoys the rain. But he keeps a keen eye on the storm's movements.

“I first embrace the rainfall, as if I’m standing beneath a refreshing shower before I begin documenting it. I prefer this initial phase as during this time there is no risk of lightning.”

Amidst the chaos, Fahad is focused on collecting vital data, analysing pressure changes, and watching cloud formations. Every observation adds to his understanding of a stunning yet dangerous natural phenomenon.

“Once the rain intensifies, that's when my action commences. At that time, it's safer to be inside the car. I then start capturing images and footage and documenting the event.”

He explains that out in the field, it is important to monitor differently in the summer and the winter.

“During summer, my focus shifts to observing morning conditions, specifically tracking air humidity and wind patterns. Winds originating from Fujairah and Khor Fakkan in the East meet those from Dubai and Sharjah, moving toward the central and mountainous areas. This collision generates substantial cumulus clouds due to heightened humidity levels, leading to rainfall.”

Pastime turned into serious pursuit

Realising that what started initially as a pastime has evolved into a serious pursuit, Fahad highlights, “Currently, [Storm Center] serves as both a notice and caution regarding impending storms, aimed at alerting adults and children. We indicate where these storms could occur and valleys should be avoided during certain periods.”

Travelled near and far

Fahad, who has covered the length and the breadth of the country chasing storms, said sometimes he has driven up to 400km per day just chasing his passion.

“I have visited every inch of the UAE. I have also travelled to Oman and Saudi Arabia. I have witnessed many hurricanes including hurricane Shaheen in 2021. This caused strong winds, dust storms, flooding in valleys, and poor visibility on roads. It affected Fujairah as well where the emirate nearly sank. I used to drive from one storm to another.”

Fahad in Saudi Arabia
Fahad in Saudi Arabia

What are the risks?

Shedding light on the risks, he emphasises that knowledge, experience, and caution is needed to minimise risks while chasing storms.

“Storm chasers face hazards such as high winds, hail, lightning, and flash floods. I always advise others that we should not go down into low-lying areas or valleys when lightning strikes. We should not hold mobile phones in our hands, especially at the time of lightning.”

Fahad recounts initially, he experienced traffic accidents during rainy weather due to an eagerness to reach his destination as early as possible.

“But now I leave before a storm begins, as I can make out its timing. Specific cloud formations, such as cumulonimbus clouds, signal the likelihood of severe weather. By observing the changes in cloud colour, I can predict if a specific cloud might produce lightning or not.”

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