DUBAI // Three people died and there were more than 600 car crashes yesterday on the blackest day on the nation's roads.
The three victims, two men from Pakistan and one from Bangaldesh, were killed when a speeding 4x4 driven by a 22-year-old man veered off the road and hit their saloon car, which was stationary on the hard shoulder.
The accident happened on Emirates Road near Al Waraqa interchange in Dubai at about 2.45pm.
It was one of 330 crashes in Dubai and 300 in Abu Dhabi amid continuous light drizzle during the day, with hazardous pools of water forming on the roads.
The temperature plunged to 16°C degrees and there are forecasts of further drops to 7°C in mountain areas and 9°C in the interior.
There was widespread fog and some landmark buildings, including the Emirates Towers, were only partially visible as late as 9.30 yesterday morning.
At about 6.45am an accident on Al Khaleej Road towards Al Shandigha caused a large tailback, as did another on Sheikh Zayed Road. "We urge motorists to be careful when driving in changing weather conditions," said Brigadier Omar Al Shamsi, director of the Dubai Police command and control room.
Brig Hussein Al Harethi, head of Abu Dhabi Traffic and Patrols Directorate, said that out of the 306 accidents only two resulted in minor injuries.
"These were minor accidents in the city, Al Rahba and Al Shahama," he said. "The crashes were mostly due to tailgating."
There were serious traffic jams in Sharjah, though a police spokesman for the emirate said only a few accidents were reported. The emirate escaped the worst of yesterday morning's showers with most roads drying out in a few hours.
A number of people took to Twitter to post rain and fog pictures and comment on the havoc the unusual weather conditions had caused in their areas.
The Roads and Transport Authority used its electronic boards across Dubai's roads to urge motorists to drive carefully and watch out for water.
Lt Col Shuaib Kajol, director of the traffic department in Ajman, said only a few accidents were reported, and the number was nothing out of the ordinary.
The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology said a low-pressure area that approached on Sunday had caused weather instability and towering clouds.
Rain fell on most parts of the country with the highest rainfall of 25 millimetres recorded over Jebal Jais in the late afternoon.
Many fishermen stayed on land because of warnings of rough seas. Tides reached three metres with wind speeds of 60kph in the morning and 48kph in the afternoon. The centre said winds were expected to be moderate today. Despite this, some fishermen said they would not venture out until the weekend.
"We haven't gone to sea in four days," said Sarvanan, an expatriate fisherman from Jumeirah 3. "The winds are too strong and the waves are extremely high. There is no guarantee for our lives at this time. Our boat cannot withstand the waves.
"Also, there are not too many fish to catch because of the bad conditions. We have been told the weather will be back to normal only after December 21. Even if fishermen do go, they don't go too far but stay close to shore."
The Dubai fishermen's cooperative manager, Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, said: "Because of the rains, fishermen aren't going much to sea now. We are getting more fish from Oman at the fish market now."
But another expatriate fisherman said he and his colleagues continued to fish despite the weather. "We went on Sunday evening and returned at 2am," said Balaswamy, also from Jumeirah 3.
"There is a lot of wind but we have to go when the boat owner requires us. We will go again tonight. Of course, it is scary to go to sea at this time but we have to go as this is our job."
However, the rain was good news for farmers. "It is now the growing season so any rain is good. It helps our fruits to grow," said Khalid Habib, who owns two farms in Dubai and Fujairah.
He said more was always welcome. "It is still small quantities, and the earth has been very dry due to little rainfall in the previous years."
Forecasters said the weather would be mainly sunny today as clouds ease gradually. "The chances of rain are very weak tomorrow," said the meteorology centre spokesperson, although increased humidity is also expected.
* Additional reporting by Ramona Ruiz and Yasin Kakande
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