x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Dense blanket of fog descends on country

Poor visibility delays flights as shamal winds move in bringing dense fog to most parts of the country.

Morning fog burns off during the early afternoon atmosphere near Electra St in Abu Dhabi, Dec 31 2008.
Morning fog burns off during the early afternoon atmosphere near Electra St in Abu Dhabi, Dec 31 2008.

Flights were diverted and delayed yesterday as thick fog reduced visibility to 50 metres in some parts of the country. More fog was expected to envelop the country this morning and shamal winds were expected to arrive tonight, stirring dust. The shamal will come down the Arabian Gulf from the north-west but a spokeswoman for Dubai Met office said it is still too early to predict its strength and effects.

"The shamal will be a fresh to strong north-westerly wind with a small possibility of a sandstorm. It is too difficult to predict just yet but it will pick up sand from the side of roads making it quite dusty." Temperatures will drop as the winds pick up and the shamal is expected to last for three to four days. Yesterday's fog formed at 10pm on Tuesday and covered the entire country by early morning. Dubai International Airport recorded fog below 1,000 metres by 6.30am. A spokeswoman for Emirates Airline said a number of departures were delayed because of the fog, but none for more than hour. All arriving flights landed on schedule. Five flights to Abu Dhabi International Airport were diverted.

The Etihad Airways planes arriving from Cairo, Calicut, Kerala and Kochi were diverted to Al Ain International Airport while a plane arriving from Beirut was sent to Doha. All the planes had been expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi by midday. The A320 medium-range aeroplanes need clear visibility to a height of 175 metres to land, a spokesman for Etihad said. An Etihad plane from Muscat, due to leave for Abu Dhabi at 11am, was delayed by the fog. Etihad's long-haul flights were not affected.

Police in Abu Dhabi said there had been no serious accidents on the roads yesterday. From Dec 15 to Monday there were a number of accidents because of fog, resulting in two deaths and 13 injuries. Police had handed out 615 fines to motorists on external roads for violations during the period, including 159 for motorists driving without their lights on at night or in fog, 400 for drivers failing to obey traffic signs and 87 to drivers who had failed to comply with a police officer's instructions.

Major Ahmed Abdullah al Shamsi, head of the traffic and patrols section in Al Gharbia, said police had increased patrols on the E11 motorway linking the UAE to Saudi Arabia during foggy conditions. Lorries had been made to pull over to the side of the motorway overnight on Tuesday during heavy fog, he said. mchung@thenational.ae eharnan@thenational.ae * with additional reporting by Salem Hafez