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Dubai flooding hobbles main airport’s operations as “historic climate occasion” brings torrential rains to UAE

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — The desert nation of the United Arab Emirates tried to dry out Wednesday from the heaviest rain ever recorded there after a deluge flooded out Dubai Worldwide Airport, disrupting journey by the world’s busiest airfield for worldwide journey. The state-run WAM information company referred to as the rain Tuesday “a historic climate occasion” that surpassed “something documented because the begin of information assortment in 1949.” 

The rains started late Monday, soaking the sands and roadways of Dubai with some 0.79 inches of rain, in keeping with meteorological information collected at Dubai Worldwide Airport. The storms intensified round 9 a.m. native time Tuesday and continued all through the day, dumping extra rain and hail onto the overwhelmed metropolis.

Flooding impacts Dubai Worldwide Airport

By the tip of Tuesday, greater than 5.59 inches of rainfall had soaked Dubai over 24 hours. A median yr sees simply 3.73 inches of rain fall at Dubai Worldwide Airport, a hub for the long-haul service Emirates.

On the airport, standing water lapped on taxiways as plane landed. Arrivals have been halted Tuesday evening and passengers struggled to succeed in terminals by the floodwater overlaying surrounding roads.

Motorisits drive alongside a flooded road following heavy rains in Dubai, early on April 17, 2024.


The airport stated in a sequence of social media posts that every one operations have been halted for about 25 minutes on Tuesday afternoon and that every one arrivals could be diverted after that “till the climate circumstances enhance.” Late Wednesday morning, the airport and the flagship service Emirates have been nonetheless warning vacationers to not come to the airport until completely vital, saying all flight check-in was nonetheless suspended.

“Flights proceed to be delayed and diverted. Please examine your flight standing straight together with your airline,” the airport stated in a tweet. “We’re working arduous to get better operations as shortly as attainable in very difficult circumstances.” 

One couple, who spoke to The Related Press on situation of anonymity in a rustic with strict legal guidelines that criminalize crucial speech, referred to as the scenario on the airport “absolute carnage.”

“You can not get a taxi. There’s folks sleeping within the Metro station. There’s folks sleeping within the airport,” the person stated Wednesday.

They ended up getting a taxi to close their dwelling some 18 miles away, however floodwater on the street stopped them. A bystander helped them over a freeway barrier with their carry-on baggage, the bottles of gin they picked up from a duty-free retailer clinking away.

Passengers wait at a flight connection desk at Dubai Worldwide Airport, April 17, 2024, amid flight delays and cancelations brought on by flash flooding introduced by a historic rain storm.


Paul Griffiths, the airport’s CEO, acknowledged continued points with flooding Wednesday morning, saying each place an plane might be safely parked was taken. Some plane had been diverted to Al Maktoum Worldwide Airport at Dubai World Central, the city-state’s second airfield.

“It stays an extremely difficult time. In dwelling reminiscence, I do not suppose anybody has ever seen circumstances prefer it,” Griffiths advised the state-owned discuss radio station Dubai Eye. “We’re in uncharted territory, however I can guarantee everybody we’re working as arduous as we probably can to verify our prospects and workers are sorted.”

Did “cloud-seeding” contribute?

Rain additionally fell in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, the rains have been acute throughout the UAE. One purpose might have been “cloud seeding,” through which small planes flown by the federal government undergo clouds burning particular salt flares. These flares can enhance precipitation.

A number of studies quoted meteorologists on the Nationwide Middle for Meteorology as saying they flew six or seven cloud-seeding flights earlier than the rains. The middle didn’t instantly reply to questions Wednesday, although flight-tracking information analyzed by the AP confirmed one plane affiliated with the UAE’s cloud-seeding efforts flew across the nation Sunday.

The UAE, which depends closely on energy-hungry desalination vegetation to supply water, conducts cloud seeding partially to extend its dwindling, restricted groundwater.

Flooding closes colleges throughout UAE

Faculties throughout the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms, largely shut forward of the storm and authorities staff have been largely working remotely if they may. Many employees stayed dwelling as nicely, although some ventured out, with the unlucky ones stalling out their automobiles in deeper-than-expected water overlaying some roads.

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

Abdel Hadi Ramahi/REUTERS

Authorities despatched tanker vehicles out into the streets and highways to pump away the water. Water poured into some houses, forcing folks to bail out their homes.

The nation’s hereditary rulers provided no total harm or harm info for the nation, as some folks slept of their flooded automobiles Tuesday evening. In Ras al-Khaimah, the nation’s northernmost emirate, police stated a 70-year-old man died when his automobile was swept away by floodwater.

Fujairah, an emirate on the UAE’s japanese coast, noticed the heaviest rainfall Tuesday with 5.7 inches falling there.

Authorities canceled college and the federal government instituted distant work once more for Wednesday.

Rain is uncommon within the UAE, an arid, Arabian Peninsula nation, however happens periodically through the cooler winter months. Many roads and different areas lack drainage given the dearth of normal rainfall, inflicting flooding.

In the meantime in neighboring Oman, a sultanate that rests on the japanese fringe of the Arabian Peninsula, no less than 19 folks have been killed in heavy rains in latest days, in keeping with a press release Wednesday from the nation’s Nationwide Committee for Emergency Administration. That features some 10 schoolchildren swept away in a automobile with an grownup, prompting condolences from rulers throughout the area.

Heavy rains over Dubai
Automobiles are seen on a flooded road throughout a rainstorm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 16, 2024.

Abdel Hadi Ramahi/REUTERS

Climatologists have warned for years that human-driven local weather change is fueling extra excessive and fewer predictable climate occasions throughout the globe.

Components of southern Russia and Central Asia have additionally been dealing for days with unusually damaging quantities of rainfall and snowmelt, forcing tens of hundreds of individuals to evacuate to increased floor and killing greater than 60 folks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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