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Flooding in Dubai and atypical heavy rains are causing traffic disruptions on UAE roads and runways

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Heavy rains hit the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, flooding parts of major highways, leaving vehicles on roads across Dubai and briefly bringing traffic to a complete standstill at the city-state’s massive international airport. Meanwhile, the death toll from isolated severe floods in neighboring Oman rose to 18, with more still missing as the sultanate braced for the storm.

The rains began overnight, leaving huge ponds on normally dry roads and airport tarmacs, while whipping winds contributed to flight disruptions at Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest international airport and home to long-haul airline Emirates. The airport said in one Series of social media posts that all operations were suspended for approximately 25 minutes on Tuesday afternoon and that all arrivals thereafter would be redirected “until weather conditions improve.”

By evening, more than 4.75 inches of rain had drenched the United Arab Emirates – the typical average for a full year in the desert state – and more rain is expected in the coming hours.

Heavy rains over Dubai
Cars are seen on a flooded street during a rainstorm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 16, 2024.

Abdel Hadi Ramahi/REUTERS

Police and rescue workers drove slowly through the flooded streets, their emergency lights flashing as lightning flashed across the sky, occasionally touching the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

Schools in the United Arab Emirates, a conglomerate of seven sheikhdoms, were largely closed before the storm and government employees mostly worked remotely where possible. Many workers also stayed home, but some ventured out, and the unfortunate left their vehicles in deeper-than-expected water that covered some streets.

Authorities sent tankers onto the streets to pump out flood water that poured over some homes, forcing people to grab buckets and buckets to try to save their homes.

Rain is unusual in the United Arab Emirates, an arid country on the Arabian Peninsula, but occurs regularly during the cooler winter months. Many roads and other areas are not drained due to lack of regular rainfall, which has exacerbated flooding.

Heavy rains over Dubai
Vehicles are seen on a flooded street during a rainstorm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 16, 2024.

Abdel Hadi Ramahi/REUTERS

Rain also fell in Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In neighboring Oman, a sultanate on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, at least 18 people have died in heavy rains in recent days, according to a statement from the country’s National Emergency Management Committee on Tuesday. These include around ten schoolchildren who were washed away in a vehicle with an adult on Monday.

Climatologists have been warning for years that climate change is caused by humans Climate change drives more extreme and less predictable weather Events around the world.

Parts of southern Russia and Central Asia have also been struggling with unusually devastating amounts of rain and melting snow for days, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate to higher altitudes more than 60 people killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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