x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Weather disrupts holiday plans

Heavy rain brings disruption to areas across the UAE with Abu Dhabi and Dubai hit by heavy thunder showers.

ABU DHABI // Heavy thunderstorms disrupted holiday activities across the country today, including the Grand Racing weekend at Dubai Autodrome, and forced people indoors. The second day of the Grand Racing weekend was cancelled for safety reasons after sections of the circuit were flooded and grit was left on the track. Minor flooding also made access to the autodrome virtually impossible. Organisers said those with tickets could use them next year or apply for a refund. The rain also forced the England cricket team to cancel their morning training session at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in the capital. Persistent rain flooded two southbound lanes of Sheikh Zayed Road at the Bur Dubai junction. The water, almost half a metre deep in places, made it impossible for most cars to use the junction. Roundabouts on the major roads of Dubai Media City were submerged but the streets around the Radisson Hotel were worst affected, with the Dubai Islamic Bank branch encircled by water. The rain also flooded parts of the parking lots at the Mall of the Emirates. Hamdan Hamdani, part a film crew forced to shoot a commercial in a car park because of the floods, said surface water made driving in the area dangerous. "While the roads are still passable, the conditions can lead to brake failures, particularly with all the sand and grit making traction difficult," Mr Hamdani said. "I drove this morning on the Emirates Road and the nearside lane was flooded, causing heavy traffic. Drivers should leave greater distances in traffic but because the conditions are unusual, many drivers are unaware of the dangers of driving fast and too close to the car in front." Some drivers switched on their hazard lights during the showers, causing drivers behind them to brake heavily, with the risk of skidding. Despite water on many roads in the capital, police said there were only minor accidents, although traffic was heavy as people flocked to malls to shop for Eid al Adha. Forecasters at the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) said more showers were expected tomorrow but no rain was expected during Eid holiday, which starts on Monday. Sufian Farrah, the NCMS's senior forecaster, said the sky would be partly cloudy on Monday. Dr S K Gupta, a forecaster at Dubai Meteorological Office at Dubai International Airport, said 2mm of rain was measured in Abu Dhabi today, 0.6mm in Dubai, 0.2mm in Sharjah and 0.3mm in Fujairah. There was not enough rain to register in Ras al Khaimah. He said that the roads flooded because the drainage system was not designed for heavy rain.

*The National