x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai beachgoers to be warned of bad weather

The Dubai Municipality has created a new system designed to warn people well in advance of bad weather to help prevent drownings.

DUBAI // A system to warn beachgoers, fishermen and marine companies of bad weather up to three days in advance has been launched to reduce the number of drownings in the emirate.

The municipality yesterday launched its marine forecasting and warning system to allow beach users to check on how safe it is to swim, and as an information tool for emergency services.

“The user can check how the weather will be, the height of the waves, current intensity, tide elevation, wind speed and direction,” said Alya Alharmoudi, head of the municipality’s department for management of the coastal environment.

“Swimmers, lifeguards and police can access it and be prepared for bad weather. This is a good tool from a safety point of view.”

Thirteen people drowned last year and 15 in 2010, Dubai Police say.

The initiative, which will complement the municipality’s live warning system, will give detailed and accurate forecasts for the entire Dubai coastline of more than 70 kilometres, from Jebel Ali to Palm Deira.

That area includes 14 public beaches or coastal areas.

The municipality said the monitoring system would cover a wide area including the entire Arabian Gulf, from the north-west of Kuwait to the south-east of Oman.

Residents can log on to www.dubaicoast.ae for updates, or register to receive text messages and emails when a caution is sounded. A red flag denotes a swimming warning.

The municipality said the marine forecasting and warning system, the first of its kind in the region, can also be used to reduce damage from oil spills.

“We can do a simulation of the area that has been affected by oil spill,” Ms Alharmoudi said.

“Using the winds and current data, we can forecast and track the flotation of oil to see what is going to happen and where it will spread.”

Salem Mesmar, the municipality’s assistant director general for environment, health and safety, said this information could help police and salvage organisations to plan the best course of action.

pkannan@thenational.ae