x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Al Ain hit by wind and rain

Erin Conroy and Essam Al Ghalib

Al Ain was battered with heavy rain and powerful winds yesterday that residents said caused flooding, knocked down trees and street signs and forced people to take cover from flying debris.

Wind speeds climbed to nearly 40km per hour and caused the air to cloud with dust, and the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology is warning that today's winds are expected to reach 32km per hour in the eastern region and could stir up another sand storm.

Trees were blown down around the Markhaniya district and the roundabouts while streets near Al Jimi Mall became flooded, said Sultan Al Balooshi, 25, an Emirati student. He said that he had not seen a storm with such ferocity in some time, and that there were very few people on the streets when the storm was blowing just before 5pm.

"The city was hit quite hard," he said. "I haven't seen a storm like this here in a very long time."

Geraldine Kershaw, a unit head at UAE University, said the storm seemed to have started very suddenly. "The air looked like lentil soup, and somehow fine sand penetrated into our flat even though the windows and door were all shut," she said. "The car-port was vibrating as the wind got under it. When the rain started a few minutes later it was very violent, our yard soon had deep puddles and the wind blew several large plant pots over."

Sherwin Borromeo, 27, a Tawam Hospital nurse from the Philippines, said she was at home when the wind picked up.

"The balcony door started banging back and forth so I ran out to get my clothes off the line before they blew away," she said.