Strong winds and dust clouds cause problems on the roads and flooding
ABU DHABI // Sand and dust clouds affecting visibility have led meteorologists to issue a weather alert, while flooding in Fujairah forced authorities to move 60 families from their homes.
Motorists have been warned to drive cautiously and fishermen have been told to avoid going to sea.
In Fujairah, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, ordered a search-and-rescue unit to the emirate as floods hit several residential areas damaging properties, with the 60 affected families provided with temporary accommodation.
The increasing dust is caused by strong winds blowing from the north of the Arabian Gulf. The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology said on Sunday that conditions would persist until Monday.
“It started on Saturday night and we call it wind-suspension dust, which is blowing from the north and east of Saudi Arabia,” a spokesman at the centre said.
“There will be more wind on Monday, which will cause rising sand and blowing dust.”
Strong winds of 55kph cut visibility to 1,500 metres on Sunday, with visibility in some areas on Saturday reported to be as low as 500 metres.
“There is even less visibility out in the sea because there is more dust than on land,” he said.
The strong winds created rough seas on Sunday, with waves in the Arabian Gulf and the Sea of Oman surging up to three metres.
“We advise against fishermen going out to sea,” the spokesman said.
Although no more rain is forecast, winds are expected until Monday evening, making way for fog on Tuesday morning.
Unstable weather conditions hit over the weekend, with thunderstorms, clouds, heavy rain and cooler temperatures.
“It’s not unusual,” the spokesman said. “It has happened before where we have witnessed many cases such as this one.”
The maximum accumulated rainfall was 34.6mm, in Sweihan, while some areas of the country experienced hail showers.
He said temperatures were expected to drop a little on Monday.
“This will happen in some parts of the country that have been affected by dust,” he said.
“The temperature will drop by 1°C or 2°C and it will start to increase again on Tuesday.”
The centre warned drivers to take precautionary measures in the event of poor visibility.
Poor weather conditions also hit Fujairah at the weekend. Sheikh Saif ordered the rescue unit to the emirate after heavy rainfall.
About 60 families in Khor Fakkan had to leave their homes and were sent to hotels and apartments.
The Department of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture in Sharjah and the Khor Fakkan Municipality provided the alternative temporary housing, according to Salem Mohammed Al Naqbi, the department’s head.
Water levels rose in residential areas and some public and private properties were damaged by floods.
Lt Col Mohammed Al Ansari, the head of the search-and-rescue team, said a 110-member squad, 15 mobile operation rooms and 15 tonnes of special search-and-rescue equipment were sent to Fujairah.
The team will remain in the emirate until the weather improves, he said.
The Security Media Department at Sheikh Saif’s office warned against trips into the desert without checking on the weather first, especially in the eastern and southern areas.
The department also advised residents against crossing valleys and to avoid using radio or mobile phones in uncovered areas during thunderstorms.
Updated: March 16, 2014 04:00 AM