x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE needs to look at low rainfall

Lack of consistent rainfall a concern, scientist says, and while it is too early to talk of patterns, the situation should be studied carefully.

Those feeling heartened by the cloud cover and light rains in some parts of the country yesterday should not get too excited, weather experts warn.

They say the UAE may be facing a dry year, even by its standards, although there is still hope.

The lack of consistent rainfalls over this winter is something that needs to be carefully studied, one scientist says.

"Our stations recorded 0.2 millimetres of rain at Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah," said the scientist at the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology in Abu Dhabi.

"We still have a chance this could continue."

So far this year the most rain recorded in a single day was in Jebel Jais, with 13.2 millimetres falling on January 20.

In December 2009, meteorologists recorded more than 60 millimetres of rain in Al Foa, a suburb of Al Ain. And on January 22 last year, 41 millimetres of rain were recorded in the western part of the UAE.

Staff from the Ministry of the Environment and Water were in the north-east of the country yesterday measuring the levels of dams near the Hajar mountains as a precaution after rainfall in the area.

The clouds and scant rain recorded in the northern and north-eastern parts of the country yesterday were caused by cold, upper-air masses forming from between three and five kilometres above the ground.

But despite yesterday's sprinkling this winter has been mostly dry, the scientist said.

"Unfortunately, there has been less rain this year but this does not mean the chance of rain will stop," he said.

"The winter season will be followed by the first transition period, which starts on March 22. During this period, clouds develop and there is still a chance of rain."

Whether the lack of consistent rain is part of a pattern is too early to say, said the scientist.

"This needs real study," he said. "It is not a concern for the UAE only. Neighbouring countries such as Oman have been experiencing it."

The UAE has also experienced more rough seas and lower mean temperatures this winter, said the scientist.

The stormy seas are caused by strong north-westerly winds. On Saturday night and Sunday morning, winds reached 80 kph in some locations.

Yesterday, the high winds led to waves of up to three metres in areas off western Abu Dhabi.

The scientist warned fishermen to stay out away from the sea today and check the weather forecast tomorrow.

"[Stormy seas] have been more frequent than usual," he said.

This year has also been colder than usual, he said, with the mean temperature for January and February below the average.

On January 22, there was a small amount of snow over Jebel Jais and several instances of frost.

Today, temperatures are expected to be a maximum of 20°C in the coastal areas and not more than 23°C in the interior of the country.

This is down 10°C from Saturday, when a maximum of 31.5°C was recorded.

vtodorova@thenational.ae