x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Caution on roads as rain, wind and dust storms hit the UAE

Motorists told to slow down as scattered rains and winds returned this morning to plague commuters across the UAE with weather experts warning about slick roadways and rough seas.

Construction workers seek shelter from the rain under a bus in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The Nationa
Construction workers seek shelter from the rain under a bus in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The Nationa

ABU DHABI // Motorists have been warned to be careful for the next few days as rain, fog and wind were expected to continue.

The poor conditions would last until Wednesday, the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology said in its three-day forecast.

It urged people to stay on land as seas would continue to be rough.

And the predictions were accurate in Abu Dhabi at least this morning as the rain came down during the morning commute. While there had been few reports of rain yet in Dubai, its police still warned drivers to “reduce speed during heavy rain to avoid sudden sliding”.

That was echoed by the National Centre for Meteorology Studies which continued to urge drivers to drive with care. As skies began to clear in Dubai, rain was still beating down in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi with driving conditions hazardous.

Adel Kamal from the weather centre said: “We continue to urge people to be cautious when driving over this period of time.”

Light to moderate rains were scattered across the country yesterday, in areas of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain.

Clouds covered the country as winds whipped up dust storms in Abu Dhabi and knocked down signs and banners along the Corniche.

A low-pressure front from the south-west coupled with a high-pressure front from the west caused the conditions, the weather bureau said.

It said waves as high as 2.7 metres were recorded in the Arabian Gulf, while visibility in Jebel Ali, Dubai, dropped to 1.5 kilometres.

More clouds were expected in scattered areas on Tuesday, particularly along the coasts and in the north of the UAE, with further sandstorms and dust reducing visibility. Rough seas were expected to continue throughout the day.

On Wednesday, the centre forecast cloudy to partly cloudy weather with a chance of rain, especially in the north and east.

Clouds would decrease gradually throughout the day, especially in the west, with the rough seas starting to calm by evening.

While Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports reported no weather-related delays, wet roads in Dubai may have played a part in a car overturing on Sheikh Zayed Road on Monday morning.

Police said no one was injured in the accident at 11.45am near the Dubai Internet City junction, although it caused traffic delays.

The Roads and Transport Authority advised motorists to take precautions while driving in the rain.

“Slowness and making a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you protects drivers from consecutive colliding with moving or stopped vehicles,” the authority posted on Twitter.

In Sharjah, authorities met to discuss emergency readiness for the rain, said Hassan Al Taffaq, assistant director general of agriculture and cultivation at Sharjah Municipality. A committee was monitoring flooding in the emirate.

Police in Sharjah urged drivers to slow down and follow traffic-safety rules.

“Our warnings go to mostly the big trucks and small vehicles on highways not to pass in dangerous ways or change lanes abruptly, and ensure that they all leave enough space between the vehicles,” said Col Sultan Al Khayal.

Social-media users seemed divided on the weather. Some posted “beautiful” photos of the clouds and rain, while others called it depressing.

Among the optimists was Abhishek Suraj, an accountant from India who lives in Abu Dhabi and who posted on Twitter that he hoped rain would fall in the capital.

“It’s nice to have some rain in Abu Dhabi, especially at this time of the year,” Mr Suraj said. “It reminds me of my hometown and how it feels to be there.”

There have been spells of unsettled weather in the past few months, with rain falling in November and last month.

Scientists at New York University Abu Dhabi said the November rains were the worst in 10 years.