x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

High winds cause havoc along UAE coast

Hotel beach areas flood and tourist operators left idle, but malls get Shopping Festival bonus. Wind gusts reaching up to 65 kph hit the coast yesterday leaving beach goers and coastal areas 'ankle deep' in water.

Strong winds whipped up the waves at the Emirates Palace marina yesterday. Kristina Armstrong
Strong winds whipped up the waves at the Emirates Palace marina yesterday. Kristina Armstrong

High tides and winds of up to 65kph played havoc along the UAE coast yesterday, with more forecast for today and tomorrow.

Winds of 76kph were recorded out at sea with waves reaching 4.5 metres, sending water and debris 50 metres up the tourist beach in Dubai.

Hotel workers at Jumeirah Beach Residence were left to clean up after the strong north-westerly gusts.

"We had the water come in more than 30 metres on to our area of the beach from about 9am in the morning," said Nikita Pavlovskiy, duty manager at the Ritz Carlton Dubai.

"We have an area a bit away from the hotel where we have beach chairs and the water came up to that section."

Mr Pavlovskiy said the water in that area was ankle-deep.

Large pools of standing water next to the Le Meridien Hotel in Dubai also kept tourists and guests away.

"We haven't had any customers today because of all this water on the beach," said a tour guide who runs a camel-ride business along the beach. "It's normally very busy but today because of the flooding no one is coming here."

The capital experienced winds of up to 43kph, the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology said.

Samuel Wondewosen, at the Hilton Abu Dhabi, said staff brought the hotel's furniture in from the beach the night before.

Staff at Emirates Palace hotel did the same for their guests' safety after seeing the weather forecast on Thursday night.

Forecasters said the strong winds would continue today, decreasing slightly tomorrow before dying down on Monday.

Temperatures ranged between 19 and 22 degrees inland.

In the mountains, the highest temperatures recorded were between 10 and 15 degrees.

The windy conditions brought heavy rain in the Northern Emirates, with 7.4 millimetres recorded in Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah, while 2.4mm fell in Umm Al Quwain.

"There was significant cloud over the Northern Emirates and precipitation from morning in some areas were recorded," the weather bureau said.

Malls taking part in the Dubai Shopping Festival were the big winners, with residents and tourists reluctant to stay outside.

The conditions come after a week in which the worst storms in a decade left swathes of Palestine and Jordan under snow and parts of Lebanon blacked out.

Freezing temperatures and floods across the region claimed at least 11 lives since Sunday.

Yesterday there were noticeably fewer people on Dubai’s beaches as most spent time in the cafes and restaurants along The Walk.

Russian tourists Dmitri and Svetlana Kuznetsova were planning to spend the day on the beach before meeting friends later in the afternoon but decided against it once they saw the debris.

“We didn’t see the flooding in the morning but you can see bits of wood and other debris and thought it would be better to go to the cafes here and the mall,” Mr Kuznetsova said.

A dead sea turtle was among the debris washed up at JBR, Mr Pavlovskiy said.

“It must have got caught in the tide and the high winds, but I believe it washed back out again when the tide went out.”

nhanif@thenational.ae

eharnan@thenational.a