Thursday, March 10, 2016

Severe storms batter Gulf states

The Gulf States of the Middle East have been hit by violent storms bringing damaging winds and causing widespread flooding.

The hail and thunder stretched from Qatar to the Gulf of Oman and led to adverse driving conditions with localised flooding in places.

The unsettled weather began with a scattering of showers in the region over the weekend but the storms gradually intensified. By Wednesday, the rain became heavier and steadier leading to flash floods which caused major disruption on the roads and at the airports.

In Dubai alone, police registered 250 road accidents by midday according to local media. Schools and businesses were closed across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the situation quickly worsened.

The UAE is ranked amongst the world's driest countries. However, flights were suspended at Dubai International Airport which had over a month's worth of rain. The March average is 10mm. Here, we recorded 14mm of rain in less than a day.

The rain was heavier still at Maktoum International Airport, 37km to the southwest in Jebel Ali. The 24 hours leading up to 06:00 GMT saw 38mm of rain.

Abu Dhabi's stock market was forced to suspend trading and cancel all morning deals after many traders were unable to reach the bourse.

The downpours were accompanied by some strong and gusty winds. There was some structural damage to roofs and power lines. The highest gust recorded was 126 kilometres per hour.

Eastern Oman is perhaps best suited to the heavier rain. Bahla, which is on higher ground, had 78mm of rain on Wednesday. This did inevitably cause some flooding.

The weather is now clearing the Arabian Peninsula. It is expected to brighten up over the next few days as the thundery showers drift east across southern Iran into Pakistan.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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