How beautiful UAE wadis can turn into raging torrents within seconds during heavy rains

Roads were shut and stern warnings were issued as the country experienced extreme weather conditions


Ruqayya Al Qaydi

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Wed 17 Apr 2024, 8:35 PM

Last updated: Wed 17 Apr 2024, 9:24 PM

UAE resident Musabbeh Saif is used to seeing streams flowing through valleys whenever it rains in Ras Al Khaimah's Showka area. But on Tuesday, he saw streets rapidly turn into wadis as the stormy weather lashed the country.

"I haven't seen this much rain in a long time in our area," he said. "The streets between houses in the area have become all valleys."

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Wadis, or valleys, in far-flung areas in the country transformed into raging torrents "within seconds" after the heavy rains.

Many found it unusual and the NCM confirmed it was, indeed, beyond the ordinary: Tuesday's rain was the heaviest downpour that the country has recorded in 75 years.

Intense rainfall cause rapid flooding in the wadis — as rainwater gushes down the surrounding hills and mountains and gathers in narrow channels.

In response to this threat, local authorities have taken various measures to boost flood preparedness and response. Early warning systems were activated and public awareness campaigns were stepped up.

Dangerous roads, particularly those prone to floods, were shut.

The Ras Al Khaimah Police closed down Maliha Shouka Road until safety can be assured. They also shut the road leading to Wadi Showka.

"We advise people who live in these areas and those coming not to go out until the valleys calm down," Saif said, echoing authorities' warnings.

Here are some videos he took:

Despite these red flags, however, some people still drive into the valleys during rainy weather — not realising how quickly the water levels could rise.

An Emirati in his 70s died on Tuesday in Ras Al Khaimah after his vehicle was swept away in Wadi Asfanah. He was reportedly attempting to enter the valley amidst heavy rain.

Badria Al Mazrouei from Fujairah, where a valley called Wadi Al Heel entered houses, said: "My siblings told me that this did not happen and that this valley has not flowed in this way for nearly 40 years."

Police warnings, fines

The Ras Al Khaimah Police urged people to stay home and avoid risky areas.

Fujairah Police also issued a warning alert, urging the public to stay indoors until further notice.

Gathering near valleys, torrents, and dams during rainy weather is a serious traffic offence punishable by a fine of Dh1,000 and six traffic points, according to UAE law.

Entering flooded valleys or dams during rain and inclement weather could get one fined up to Dh2,000, 23 black points, and vehicle confiscation for two months.


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