UAE: Does winter this year feel warmer, less rainy? Here's why

An expert from the UAE's National Centre of Meteorology said that this month typically witnesses a decrease in temperatures

by

Nandini Sircar

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KT Photo: Shihab
KT Photo: Shihab

Published: Thu 4 Jan 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 5 Jan 2024, 8:27 AM

The UAE has seen a milder winter recently compared to previous years, as indicated by the experts from the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM).

They've pointed out that December's average temperature has been higher than in previous years.

Over the next few days in January, temperatures are anticipated to stay around 24ºC during the day, dipping to 15ºC in the evenings. Specific mountainous regions are likely to witness even lower temperatures. The coldest air temperature recorded so far occurred in Raknah in 2021, plummeting to -2ºC.

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Dr Ahmed Habib from the NCM, in an interview with Khaleej Times on Wednesday, highlighted that like December even January this year has experienced increased temperatures overall and a decreased level of rainfall compared to previous years during the same period.

He said, “This year has seen a slight increase in warmth overall, with temperatures surpassing the usual averages. However, certain areas have not followed this pattern, experiencing relatively cooler conditions. Nevertheless, the overall temperatures can be characterised as exceeding the average.”

He also mentioned that this month typically experiences a decrease in temperatures, resulting in generally cool daytime weather and cold nights.

This change is attributed to the expansion of a high-pressure system ridge over Siberia, bringing a cold air mass that affects both the country and the Arabian Peninsula.

“Additionally, during this month, the region is affected by a succession of low pressure systems that pass from West to East. The country is also affected by the extension of the red sea trough at times,” he added.

Sometimes those pressure systems lead to cloud developments over the country with certain days of the month experiencing rainfall.

Lower amount of rainfall

Additionally, the veteran weatherman emphasised that December 2023 experienced a lower amount of rainfall compared to previous years during the same month.

“In December, the average rainfall has also been lower as compared to previous years. The country experienced rainfall but not heavy rainfall unlike say last year. We have system pressure in the surface and upper layers over the UAE.”

From November to January last year, the prospects for rainfall were more favourable. That resulted in unstable weather conditions in 2022 during this period.

In Saudi Arabia and its neighbouring regions, the likelihood of rainfall appeared promising. However, because of the prolonged high pressure in the country dispersal of rain-bearing clouds across the region were hindered.

Meanwhile, as the UAE officially enters its winter season, strong northwesterly winds known as the (winter) Shamal, bring about blowing sand and dust across inland areas, particularly affecting exposed regions.

“These winds lead to rough sea with an increase wave height. Relative humidity increases especially in the early mornings which enhance chances of fog and mist formation. The frequency of fog and mist increases more over inlands as compared to coastal areas.”

Cloud seeding continues

Shedding light on the UAE’s continuous cloud-seeding efforts that generates at least 15 per cent extra rainfall annually, Habib added cloud-seeding operations have already been underway in 2024.

“Both Monday and Tuesday witnessed cloud cover in the northern region of the country accompanied by sporadic light rain. Consequently, we conducted a cloud-seeding operation in the northern areas of the UAE, specifically over Hatta, certain regions north of Al Ain, and parts of Fujairah,” he added.

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