x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE weather: Traffic chaos as strong winds and rain lash the Emirates

Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai shut schools due to the weather with Dubai Airshow and Global Village also both closing. Meanwhile drivers urged to take care amid a slew of accidents.

Heavy rains flood a section of the E11 near Al Ruwais forcing traffic to be diverted. Sammy Dallal / The National
Heavy rains flood a section of the E11 near Al Ruwais forcing traffic to be diverted. Sammy Dallal / The National

Heavy downpours caused several accidents in Abu Dhabi and Dubai bringing traffic to a standstill in some areas.

On the road towards Abu Dhabi, a six-car pileup beside Al Rahba Hospital forced several cars to swerve to avoid further crashes.

Motorists were reported to have waited in their cars for emergency services.

It was the second such pileup on the road caused by heavy rainfall, which also flooded three lanes near Abu Dhabi’s Midfield Terminal project .

Abu Dhabi Police warned motorists to be careful as rain and strong winds swept the country.

Floodwaters caused by heavy rain on Wednesday claimed the life of Hassan Rashid Al Shalmala after his vehicle was swept away in a storm surge in Ras Al Khaimah.

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the Minister of Interior, ordered preparations to be made for rain to continue until tomorrow, according to the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority.

Under the directions of Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the National Security Adviser, the country is fully prepared on every level and only minor injuries have been reported.

In Dubai, a 4x4 smashed through the central reservation on Jumeirah Beach Road at Jumeirah Beach Park causing a major traffic jam during the morning peak hour.

Another accident involving a Mercedes-Benz halted traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road at Jebel Ali towards Dubai. All lanes had to be closed so emergency workers could clear debris strewn across the roads.

A separate accident was also reported between Al Manara intersection and the World Trade Centre roundabout in Dubai.

Traffic slowed to a crawl across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with slow traffic reported at Al Wasl Road in Dubai.

Similarly, vehicles heading towards Abu Dhabi on Salam Street moved slowly because of reduced visibility.

Google weather forecast lightning for Abu Dhabi and Dubai as the skies darkened and the rain fell, with the cities getting a taste of what the Northern Emirates had endured earlier in the week.

Dubai Police reported the weather’s effect on traffic as early as 7.22am when they tweeted: “An accident has been reported on Sheikh Zayed Road from Al Safa Bridge towards Jebel Ali. There is congestion, please drive carefully.”

Road users echoed the stay safe message by taking to social media.

“I hope everyone is driving safely in the UAE. Crazy storm this morning,” tweeted Razan Sam, while Saeed posted: “Everyone, drivers, pupils all be safe and very careful.”

In Abu Dhabi there were reports of lights being out at the Electra Street and Airport Road junction, while trees had come down by Khaleej Al Arabi road.

St Andrew’s Anglican Church cancelled its services for Friday after the rain damaged the church building.

The weather also hit Dubai attractions with Global Village closing its doors for the day because of the high chance of a thunderstorm.

The Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services has developed a contingency plan in case of disruptive weather.

The plan will swing into action in the event of sandstorms, thunderstorms with hail and heavy rain, expected to take place in the next 48 hours, according to weather forecasts.

Jumaa Al Balushi, the head of the Crises and Disasters Taskforce at Dubai Ambulance, said that ambulance squads and emergency medical technicians were on maximum alert.

Emergency teams were also on call in case of medical alerts and rescue requests from Dubai Police. They are prepared to be deployed in the northern Emirates or any remote areas, as well as the major centres.

Dr Ali Hasan, the head of the emergency department at Al Noor Hospital, on Abu Dhabi’s Airport Road, said a few emergency patients were treated this morning after falling over in the slippery conditions.

They had “moderate” trauma injuries, said Dr Hasan. He urged people to take care in slippery conditions.

newsdesk@thenational.ae