UAE weather: Dust storm sweeps through country as heavy rains fall in five emirates

Flights have been diverted; motorist warnings have been issued



Pphoto by Neeraj Murali
Pphoto by Neeraj Murali
by

Sahim Salim

Published: Sun 14 Aug 2022, 7:12 PM

Last updated: Sun 14 Aug 2022, 10:23 PM

A dust storm swept through the UAE on Sunday, even as heavy rains fell in five emirates. While health authorities asked residents to mask up to stay safe from the dust, the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) issued code-red flood alerts in some areas.

The police urged motorists to drive cautiously amid the unstable weather conditions the day witnessed.

Flights diverted

Multiple flights were diverted as dusty conditions impacted visibility. According to the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), visibility dropped to less than 500 metres over the Abu Dhabi and Dubai international airports.

Operations at Dubai International (DXB) were disrupted due to the poor weather, with 10 inbound flights diverted to Dubai World Central (DWC) and “other neighbouring airports”.

“Dubai Airports is working closely with airlines and all our service partners to minimise the impact of the disruption and restore normal operations at the earliest. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused,” the airport operator said.

Flydubai said the weather conditions caused some delays to a “number of our inbound and outbound flights”.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation and apologise for the inconvenience the adverse weather conditions may have caused our passengers,” said a flydubai spokesperson.

Motorists drive cautiously

The Abu Dhabi and Dubai skylines were blanketed by a grayish haze throughout Sunday. Prominent landmarks like the Burj Khalifa and Ain Dubai remained hidden as visibility dropped.

“First, I thought it was fog as there was some weather alert for rain, but then I stepped outdoors and found the dust cloud,” said Abu Dhabi resident Mohamed Jaksa.

A Dubai resident said she drove cautiously as the visibility was poor. “I was on a flyover in Al Quoz and could barely see the traffic light some 500 metres ahead. I drove very slowly,” she said.

Heavy rains prompt flood warning

Meanwhile, heavy rains fell in five emirates on the day.

The NCM confirmed heavy rains in four emirates: Abu Dhabi’s Al Ain; Sharjah’s Wadi Al Helo; Fujairah’s Esfai and Masafi; and Ras Al Khaimah’s Shawkah, Wadi Al Ujaili and Al Layat. Weather-related social media handle Storm Centre also reported rains in Dubai’s Hatta.

Videos shared by the NCM showed heavy flow of water in Wadi Al Helo and Masafi.

The official weather bulletin predicts dusty conditions and rains over the next four days.

The NCM asked residents to take “utmost care” and “avoid valleys, landslides, and flooded areas”.

Fully prepared

Since last week, authorities in the country had been preparing for unstable weather conditions caused by a “low-pressure system from the east”.

The Emirates Health Services (EHS) urged residents in the country’s east to avoid “dangerous areas” like valleys as they are prone to flash floods during heavy rains.

Staff and personnel at hospitals and primary healthcare centres in the Eastern region are prepared to “deal with the expected weather changes across Fujairah, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah”.

The EHS called on all Eastern region residents to directly communicate through channels provided by the relevant authorities “in case of dangerous situations that require intervention”.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) said last week that it would issue warnings before and during the unstable weather. “We will announce adequate measures taken by the competent authorities, in addition to activating the early warning system by local police to guide the public and provide them necessary information to be followed,” the NCEMA said.

The Ministry of Interior said it is “fully prepared to deal with any emergency situation”.

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