Unstable weather in UAE: Authorities, resident volunteers work together as heavy rains lash country

With teams on the ground and all hands on deck, Khaleej Times brings you all that happened on May 2 as heavy rains hit the country

By Team KT

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Thu 2 May 2024, 7:33 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 May 2024, 11:45 PM

An orange alert was issued on Thursday as heavy rains and thunderstorms lashed the UAE. While many residents didn't have to leave home for work today, some woke up early in the morning as downpours and strong winds struck their neighbourhoods. In the north, waterfalls gushed out as dark rain clouds hovered over the mountains.

Over the past few days, the UAE has been preparing for this wave of unstable weather, which is forecast to peak today, May 2, until tomorrow, May 3. Safety advisories have been issued across sectors. Schools are on distance learning, while companies are urged to let employees work from home. Parks and beaches have been closed. Airports and airlines are bracing for the impact, too.

Heavy rains have been pounding the country since midnight, with Dubai seeing showers and lightning as early as 2.35am, according to alerts issued by the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM).

Stay up to date with the latest news. Follow KT on WhatsApp Channels.

While these rains are expected to be less severe than the unprecedented downpour that hit the country earlier this month, the public is urged to take precautions.

With teams on the ground and all hands on deck, Khaleej Times brings you all that happened on May 2 as heavy rains hit the country:

11pm: Skies clear, UAE authorities at work

As heavy rains lashed the UAE today, authorities across the country were seen hard at work. Municipal workers and water tankers were spotted across different emirates while heavy showers drenched the country.

Volunteers too, stepped up and headed out to help the community – helping people cross flooded roads and rescuing cats as rainwater began accumulating throughout the day.

Some flights were cancelled at Dubai International Airport, and while others were delayed, DXB quickly bounced back and resumed operations as normal.

While Dubai's RTA suspended and resumed intercity bus services, Sharjah's RTA announced after 9pm that it has temporarily suspended intercity bus services.

10.30pm: Rainfall recorded today

Take a look at the amount of rainfall recorded across regions today:

9.45pm: Sharjah suspends intercity bus services

Sharjah Roads and Transport Authority has announced a temporary suspension of intercity bus services due to current weather conditions.

9.30pm: Volunteers spring into action, provide aid

As the weather forecast predicted rainfall, many volunteer and social organisations across the country sprang up into action, preparing and planning aid missions. They wasted no time in mobilizing their efforts and making necessary preparations to assist those who might be in need. Many of these groups had already packed raw food materials into boxes, ready to be distributed to people in case of flooding.

“We all remember the damage caused by the previous rainfall, leaving many without access to food and water. We were fully prepared to offer assistance if a similar situation occurred,” said Hameed Yasin, general secretary of the Iman Cultural Center.

“We had already packed over 500 food kits to distribute to people in need if the situation escalated. Fortunately, everything is under control for now,” added Yasin.

Read the full story here.

9pm: How UAE residents prepared for unstable weather

As forecasts warned of bad weather conditions, residents across the UAE wasted no time in protecting their homes and businesses against the impending rainfall. Small businesses took protective measures by stacking sandbags near entrances to prevent water from infiltrating their premises.

Shaheen Grocery in Abu Shagra, Sharjah, took proactive measures on May 1, closing its doors earlier than usual and commencing preparations to prevent water seeping into the store. “We typically close our business by 1am, but last night, we shut the shop at 10pm and stacked sandbags in front of the entrance to prevent water from seeping in,” said the cashier.

Reflecting on the aftermath of the previous heavy rainfall, the cashier said that their business activities resumed on April 29. “Water had entered the shop, and it took us days to clear it out. We didn't want to take any chances this time,” said the cashier.

8.30pm: Intercity buses resume services

Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority has informed residents that intercity buses have resumed.

8.15pm: How UAE students tackled rains to attend board finals in person

On Thursday, when governments across the UAE announced remote learning, Sharjah resident Naveeda Jukaku was on call with her son’s school to make sure that he would have bus transport to get to and from school to write his board exam.

Her son, Hassan, is a Year 11 student in a British syllabus school in Dubai and had to be on campus to write his exam. The 16-year-old was out and about by 5am to ensure that he was able to reach school on time. “He had a paper at 12.30pm but he was picked up by the school bus at 5.20am,” she said. “No one wanted to take a chance. After they arrived in school, they were put in a conference room for a few hours where they revised before going in for their exams.”

Read the full story here.

7.51pm: DXB back to normal

A Dubai Airports spokesperson has confirmed to Khaleej Times that DXB has returned to "normal operations".

"We're pleased to confirm that Dubai International (DXB) returned to normal operations this afternoon following overnight disruptions caused by unsettled weather. There have been no additional cancellations or diversions reported, and all terminals are now operating smoothly. We sincerely thank our guests for their patience and cooperation."

7.30pm: Rains at Dubai Airport

Take a look at these stunning images captured earlier today when rains hit Dubai Airport.

6.52pm: Dubai parks, beaches reopen

Dubai Municipality has announced that its parks and beaches are now open again.

They said in a post: "As we’ve swiftly rebounded from recent weather fluctuations, public beaches, public parks, and markets affiliated with Dubai Municipality are open again. We’re waiting for you for a unique experience with your loved ones."

6.25pm: Road flooded/ blocked

The exit out of South Emaar on E611 is blocked due to rainwater accumulation.

KT Photo: Neeraj Murali
KT Photo: Neeraj Murali

6.15pm: Out and about as skies clear up

The weather is good with a gentle breeze and this group of boys are playing football at a community park in Dubai South on Thursday evening.

KT Photo: Angel Tesorero
KT Photo: Angel Tesorero

6pm: Keep your food safe during possible power outages

The Dubai Health Authority has shared some tips to keep food safe during possible power outages, which have been listed below:

  • Differentiate between perishable and non-perishable food items.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to maintain cold temperatures.
  • Use perishable items first and store them in coolers with ice packs if needed.
  • Avoid consuming food that may have been in contact with floodwater.
  • Discard any food with unusual odours, colours, or textures.
  • Do not refreeze certain foods.
  • Avoid drinking rainwater or stagnant water.
  • Clean and sanitise dishes, utensils, and surfaces properly.

5.40pm: Is rainwater entering your home and the water level rising?

Here's what to do: Don’t panic. Quickly disconnect your home’s main electrical panel and move to the highest, safest spot.

Call Dewa (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) at 991, and contact Dubai Police Operations at 999.

5.20pm: How volunteers help residents get by amid the heavy rains

When rainfall inundated a few roads and a pedestrian underpass in Sharjah on May 2, many commuters found themselves stranded, unable to cross the waterlogged roads and subways. Among them was Jamaluddin, a Bangladeshi expat who witnessed the plight of pedestrians attempting to navigate the submerged underpass.

Inspired to reduce the difficulties faced by pedestrians, Jamaluddin devised a solution. Using his bicycle, he offered to ferry individuals from one side of the underpass to the other, ensuring they could cross without getting wet.

Click here to read the full story.

5.10pm: Sun shines, clouds pass

The sun is shining in several parts of Dubai, however, large white clouds are still covering a majority of the blue sky.

KT Photo: Sahim Salim
KT Photo: Sahim Salim
KT Photo: Laraib Anwer
KT Photo: Laraib Anwer

4.50pm: Flying into Dubai tonight?

Dubai Metro hours have been extended for today as well to facilitate travel for passengers.

Click here to get the latest on the operating hours and tonight's schedule for the metro.

4.25pm: How UAE teachers are making lessons fun as schools go online during rains

“That’s a bowl of flour, a glass of water, a plate of oil, and a cup of salt,” says Jaimiely Monedo Dionglay, FS 2 teacher at Newlands School-Dubai, as she shares her online class today.

As schools transitioned to distance learning on Thursday teachers have been getting innovative, spicing up science lessons with kitchen utensils to create engaging learning experiences.

4.09pm: Not using the metro? Here's a look at the stunning view

Take a look at the stunning view from the Dubai Metro as rains hit some parts of the country.

3.45pm: All work and no play?

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has asked residents to avoid swimming and playing in collected rainwater as it contains bacteria that could pose a health risk.

3.30: Look up, sky is clear (in some areas)

Ronnie Unsay, a resident of Dubai's Damac Hills 2, wasn't expecting any of his furniture deliveries today since he was informed of cancellation due to weather conditions. This afternoon, however, the delivery truck came.

"I was surprised! But then it also makes sense because the sky is already clear here in our neighbourhood," he said.

3.15pm: Did you know that cars can catch fire when submerged in water?

The Dubai Police shared a safety guide to prevent a vehicle fire, especially when driven in areas submerged in water.

Here are some dos and don'ts:

  • Switch off your car and step out immediately.
  • Do not attempt to restart the vehicle engine.
  • Open all doors and windows to let in sunlight.
  • Disconnect the battery if safe to do so.

3.05pm: More pumping machines

Sharjah has deployed a fleet of water tankers and pumping machines to immediately clear flooded roads.

KT Photo: M. Sajjad
KT Photo: M. Sajjad

2.53pm: Taking a ferry?

Some routes of the Dubai Ferry have been temporarily suspended due to unstable weather conditions, the RTA said.

Here are the affected trips:

  • FR1

- Al Ghubaiba - Marina Mall (in both directions)

- Dubai Water Canal - Al Ghubaiba (in both directions)

  • FR2

- Dubai Water Canal - Bluewaters (in both directions)

- Bluewaters - Marina Mall (in both directions)

  • FR5

- Al Ghubaiba - Sharjah Aquarium (in both directions)

2.37pm: Landslide reported

Part of a road in Ras Al Khaimah collapsed after heavy rains pounded the Emirates.

The landslide was reporeted on a street leading to Emirates Road, towards Al Shuhada St exit, Ras Al Khaimah.

The emirate's police have cordoned off a portion of the street after the incident.

Source: Ras Al Khaimah Police
Source: Ras Al Khaimah Police

2.15pm: Driving lessons, tests cancelled

Residents taking up driving lessons in Dubai have been notified that "all tests, lectures and training, and RTA tests" have been cancelled today. Among those who received a message were students of Drive Dubai.

2pm: Fewer areas under orange alert

Only a few areas remain under the NCM's orange alert as weather conditions improve in the country.

In its latest advisory, the Met Department shows in a graph that the convective clouds that hovered above the country have shrunk. The alert level has been lowered to yellow in most areas:

1.45pm: Heavy machines hit roads

Water tankers were seen in a number of streets in Sharjah, clearing out water from roads and minimising flooding.

1.39pm: Sun starts shining again!

Azeeja, a resident of a community along the Al Qudra Road, heaved a sigh of relief. "The rains were causing water to sweep into my house and the roads had begun flooding too," she said. "However, there were tankers in the community that began emptying out the water as soon as the rain began to fall. They were well prepared this time. Now, with the sun shining again, I am relieved."

1.22pm: Cleared in no time

An area in Dubai's Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) was cleared immediately after water accumulation had been reported:

Source:  Government of Dubai Media Office
Source: Government of Dubai Media Office

This was how the street looked this morning, with a man attempting to unclog a drain:

1.10pm: All geared up, literally

Residents are fully prepared for this weather. Many of those who have to step out were able to bring their umbrellas:

And put their best raincoats and boots on:

1.02pm: Temporary closures

Some roads that lead to water ponds in Dubai's Al Furjan area had been closed. Security authorities are working to redirect drivers.

Photo: Nawar
Photo: Nawar

12.52pm: Speed limits back to normal

The Abu Dhabi Police issued a traffic alert: Speed limits on external roads — which were earlier reduced to 100kmph — are now back to normal

12.41pm: Makeshift home for cats

Worried about the street cats amid rains, Sharjah resident Jlory built a small, makeshift shelter where the they could take cover.

She had put together some plastic and pieces of wood to create the shed at a private parking lot. Three cats are currently inside, and Jlory makes sure they have food and water, too.

12.30pm: Exits closed

Some exits on Umm Al Quwain's Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed St have been closed due to the weather conditions, the emirate's police said.

These exits include 116, 113, 110, 96, and 93.

Water has accumulated on both sides of the street, the authorities added.

12.20pm: Need to order food?

Popular delivery apps in the country are putting rider safety first. Messages were sent to users, alerting them to possible delays.

Some have temporarily suspended delivery services.

Read the full report here.

12.15pm: Instant response!

As soon as a water pond starts forming at the parking lot of this residential building in Al Barsha, cleaners swoop in to clear it out:

12.05pm: Kindness wins

Despite challenging conditions, a resident helps a family push their shopping cart through waterlogged streets:

11.55am: Flooded underpass? Cyclist saves the day

With an underpass flooded near Sharjach City Centre, pedestrians have found a hero.

This cyclist has been helping residents cross the underpass without getting their feet and clothes wet. He makes them sit on his bicycle and pushes them from one end to another:

11.45am: Business as usual for delivery riders

For these delivery riders, work continues as orders come in. They put on their raincoats and splash through roads to make sure residents get what they need.

KT Photo: SM Ayaz Zakir
KT Photo: SM Ayaz Zakir

11.35am: Basement parking woes solved

Remember when cars parked in the basement were submerged in water?

This time, buildings in Sharjah are not taking any chances. Many have barricaded their basement parking areas to prevent water from coming in.

11.24am: A distance learning day

“That’s a bowl of flour, a glass of water, a plate of oil, and a cup of salt,” says Jaimiely Monedo Dionglay, FS 2 teacher at Newlands School-Dubai, as she shares her online class today.

“It’s a small yet busy workspace with resources for our playdough experiment. This is my ‘teach-from-home’ set-up for my Science lesson. Despite conducting the lesson online, my students are showing enthusiasm in doing the assigned task. They’re also asking and answering questions, and providing feedback. It’s a good opportunity to interact in a fun and engaging way.”

11.15am: 'Everything is safe'

A resident of Dubai's Meydan area, Ahmed Saboor, managed to take a stroll within his community.

"It was raining heavily in the morning. But now, only light showers remain," he said. "We were all prepared. Thank God everything is safe, and we were expecting heavy rainfall like last time."

11am: Al Furjan was completely ready

Rain also stopped in Dubai's Al Furjan area, although the sun is yet to shine:

This neighbourhood was among areas that were badly affected during the record rains. Some streets were closed and cars were submerged in water.

This time, residents noticed that the authorities cleaned and opened the water sewers a day before and brought in a number of suction trucks to be fully and completely ready.

10.52am: On and off

In some parts of Abu Dhabi — particularly on Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street (Airport) — light rain is seen from time to time. Now, it has stopped.

10.45am: Downtown view

Dubai roads may be empty but Downtown heroes have been at work since morning.

No traffic jams and no water ponds are seen on the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard.

Here's the Dubai skyline as clouds blanket the city:

10.34am: Intercity buses suspended

Dubai's RTA temporarily suspends the operations of intercity buses due to the adverse weather conditions.

10.25am: A guide for drivers

Dubai Police are closely monitoring the situation of roads around the emirate. In some areas, they placed cones to prevent cars from driving into water ponds while in others, they shut off certain roads.

Officers could be seen working round the clock wearing raincoats and jackets ensuring a smooth flow of traffic.

10.15am: Some roads flooded

In Sharjah, some roads — particularly in the emirate's Al Nahda area — are already flooded but vehicles can still pass through.

Here are some pictures taken by KT photographer Shihab:

10.02am: Overflowing wadi

If you're living near a wadi, be mindful of warnings and guidelines issued by the authorities.

Here's a view of a valley in Al Ain:

9.54am: Dubai rain heroes on the ground

Wearing their boots and raincoats, Dubai teams are out in the field to ensure public safety — from managing traffic to handling fallen trees.

Here are photos shared by Dubai Media Office:

9.40am: Water ponds on highways

As heavy rains battered several parts of the UAE, water ponds started forming on some roads, including Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Road.

Authorities have advised drivers to be cautious on the road.

9.32am: Emirates cancels flights

Several flights were cancelled by Emirates on Thursday due to bad weather across the UAE on Thursday.

Flight movements at Dubai International Airport (DXB) have also been reduced.

Read the full report here.

9.17am: Is your area under orange alert?

The NCM updates the locations covered by its orange alert for hazardous weather:

9.12am: Spot Burj Khalifa

Here's a look near Dubai's Downtown area:

9.02am: Downpour in Palm Jumeirah

It has begun raining quite heavily around the Palm Jumeirah area.

“The winds were very strong last night and one of my neighbour’s garden table’s glass top flew off. The roads are wet but not flooded," said resident Ameena.

8.49am: Follow all guidelines

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority reiterated its warning for the public:

8.47am: Only a few cars left

An overcast sky above Dubai South brings light to moderate rain in the community. Residents remain vigilant of the unstable weather, and only a handful of cars have left the neighbourhood as of 8.45am on Thursday.

KT photo: Angel Tesorero
KT photo: Angel Tesorero

8.30am: What today's weather will look like

To give the public an overview, the NCM has shared a visual of the weather wave that will sweep across the country today. Take note of the time stamps on the right bottom corner of the video:

8.06am: If you must drive in the rain ...

KT Photo: Shihab
KT Photo: Shihab

While it is best to stay home during this time, those who really need to step out are advised to be extra careful. The Dubai Police share six safety tips for drivers:

7.55am: Howling winds wake residents up

UAE residents had an uneasy sleep as strong winds and torrential rain battered most parts of the country between 2am and 4am on Thursday.

Some trees, trash bins and billboards fell due to strong winds but there was no recorded flooding in Dubai South as at 6.30 am on Thursday.

Read the full report here.

7am: Heads up, Abu Dhabi motorists!

Speed limits have been reduced to 100kmph on major roads in the UAE Capital:

  • ⁩Maktoum Bin Rashid road (Abu Dhabi-Dubai)
  • Al Ain-Dubai Road
  • Maktoum Bin Rashid road, Abu Dhabi-Dubai (Al Mafraq - Rawdat Al Reef)
  • Abu Dhabi - Al Ain road (Al Mahawi - Al Sad)
  • Shk. Tahnoon Bin Mohammed road ( Al Saja - Masakin )
  • Abu Dhabi - Al Ain road ( Complex Bridges - Al Wathbah )
  • Shk. Zayed Bin Sultan road (Shk. Zayed Bridge - Al Bahyah )
  • Shk. Khalifa Bin Zayed road (Yas - Al Saadiyat)
  • Al Khaleej Al Arabi road (Musaffah Bridge - Abu Dhabi )
  • Shk. Khalifa Bin Zayed Intl. road, Abu Dhabi - Al Ghwaifat (Al Nof Bridge- Al Ghwaifat)

6.30am: Brace for 'hazardous weather'

The NCM raised an orange warning for nearly all areas in the country, forecasting hazardous weather events until 8pm tonight.

Here are the affected areas:

5am: Scenes at UAE landmarks, mountains

Early in the morning, Dubai's Burj Khalifa had been enveloped by thick clouds as Downtown saw rain accompanied by lightning strikes.

A similar scene unfolded in Abu Dhabi, particularly at the site of the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque:

In the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah, residents captured a waterfall gushing out:


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