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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Is UAE's winter weather done and dusted?

Winter feels as though it's over as temperatures rise and fog gives way to sandy haze

Winds could whip up blowing dust clouds on Thursday across the UAE.
Winds could whip up blowing dust clouds on Thursday across the UAE.

Winter came to an abrupt end on Tuesday night as temperatures rose and Wednesday saw weeks of fog give way to the arrival of dust and haze.

After a long, cold winter and despite predictions that the cooler weather was here to stay this week, the jackets and hoodies came off as temperatures hit highs of 34°C.

The heavy, intermittent fog that caused low visibility and dangerous driving conditions over the last few months lifted, making way for strong winds to stir up dust and sand causing low visibility and dangerous driving conditions.

Drivers were, once again, warned by police to take extra care on the roads, watch out for sand build-up and not to use their mobile phones or take pictures.

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People with respiratory conditions were also urged to take extra precautions.

The National Centre of Meteorology said that winds across the country reached speeds of 45 kph and warned that strong winds could cause rough seas in the Arabian Gulf and the Oman sea. Waves of upto seven feet were expected offshore.

“The unstable weather is caused by low pressure that pushed strong south-easterly winds across the country,” said Abul Aziz Al Jabri, a forecaster at the NCM.

In a stark reminder of the importance of driving safely in reduced visibility, the haze comes after a spate of accidents caused by the fog.

Last Thursday, more than 500 traffic accidents were reported in Dubai – Dubai police received 564 accident reports and 3,564 emergency calls.

On the same day, nine people were injured in an accident involving 28 vehicles. The accident happened on Emirates Road as heavy fog reduced visibility to less than 50 metres in areas across the country.

Two days previously, 44 vehicles collided in heavy fog outside Abu Dhabi city on the new E311 road –which is named Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road on the Dubai section and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Road in the Abu Dhabi stretch – and some 22 people were injured in the crash, which was videoed by a member of the public and distributed through social media.

A lorry driver whose vehicle was captured ploughing into a line of traffic following the pile-up was later arrested on suspicion of endangering motorists' lives.

Abu Dhabi Police said the man drove recklessly, ignored severe weather conditions and caused a major accident.

Brigadier Ali Al Dhaheri, director general of Central Operations, said the driver put lives at risk.

Flights were not affected by Wednesday's weather conditions, a duty officer at Abu Dhabi Airport told The National.

Humidity was expected to increase over night and into the early hours of Thursday over some internal and coastal areas. Forecasters said the strong winds were likely to move towards the south of Saudi Arabia.