x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

No respite as more rain forecast across the UAE

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Rain again hit the UAE yesterday with the heaviest falls in Abu Dhabi, above. The wet weather is set to last until at least Thursday and experts say that the duration of the poor conditions is unusual. Ravindranath K / The National
Rain again hit the UAE yesterday with the heaviest falls in Abu Dhabi, above. The wet weather is set to last until at least Thursday and experts say that the duration of the poor conditions is unusual. Ravindranath K / The National

Showers in April are not unusual as the weather is changing from winter to summer, said a scientist with the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS).

But it is unusual for the unstable weather conditions to last so long, he added, with some clouds and rain expected until at least Thursday.

Scattered rain is expected today, while tomorrow, south-easterly winds saturated with moisture from the Arabian Sea, will possibly mean more frequent and heavier rainfall.

As has been the case over the past week, most of the rainfall is expected to be over Abu Dhabi emirate.

"The situation is normal, but the duration and the frequency [of the rainy spell] is not," said the centre's scientist, who declined to be named.

The changes started on April 21 and intensified over the weekend, reaching a peak on Saturday.

The highest rainfall recorded in the past week was 126.4 millimetres on Wednesday in Al Quaa in the Eastern part of Abu Dhabi, near Al Ain. Over the past week, 43.6mm was recorded in Hameem and 41.8mm in Sweihan, an area with many farms.

Yesterday, Bida Said in Abu Dhabi recorded 22.5mm of rain.

The amounts are higher than average. Between 2003 and 2010, the average rainfall in April in Abu Dhabi was 11.4mm, while in the UAE it was 8.16mm.

The record for rainfall in Abu Dhabi was set in 2003, with 189.8mm falling in Razeen.

Ahmed Al Sajwani, UAE representative of ArabiaWeather.com, a private company that provides weather products and services for the Arab world, said the weather conditions are " unusual but not unheard of".

"What meteorologists know about the UAE is that rainfall varies significantly from one year to another," he said.

Mr Al Sajwani said that since 2009, March and April have been wetter than usual, but that the UAE is far less affected by unstable weather than Oman and Saudi Arabia, where extensive flooding has occurred.

In addition, the NCMS has been seeding clouds since April 21 to enhance rainfall. However, cloud seeding cannot explain the weather entirely.

"We are only enhancing the rainfall," said the scientist.

Although no flooding is expected, 40 water tankers are on standby in Dubai ready to respond.

Tariq Ahmad Al Shamsi, head of the drainage network section at Dubai Municipality, said they had informed the department's employees to be ready to switch to round-the-clock shifts if weather conditions get any worse.

"We have been in contact with the Met office and, in anticipation of the rain, we lowered the water levels on all the pump stations in the storm water network," said Mr Al Shamsi.

"But because this rainfall has been slow and intermittent, there really has been very little rise in the water levels in the network, everything has been running smoothly."

Mr Al Shamsi also said they had not received any calls about large water puddles.

"Almost every time we have rain, our department gets called to send out our tankers to clear large accumulations of water. This time we have not received any calls."

Most of the city is now connected to the storm drain network which prevents water from accumulating, he said.

The department will remain on high alert until the end of the week.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Police have called on the public to take the necessary safety measures as unsettled weather continues. Patrols are being intensified across the emirate as a precautionary action.

On Saturday, Dubai Police central operations room received 4,000 phone calls in a 24-hour period beginning at 6am and logged 687 road accidents due to rainfall and unstable weather, said Brig Omar Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi.

In Sharjah, one Emirati youth died and two others were injured in a road accident on Saturday evening. The dead youth was identified as Mohammed HH, 17. The injured were Yousef MH, 17, and Yousef MT, 20.

Maj Khaled Al Kayi, director of awareness and media at Sharjah Traffic Police said that speeding and bad weather were among the causes of the accident.

Workers have started to clean up the roads and buildings in Sharjah affected by weekend rains, said Yousef Abdullah, director of the solid waste department at the municipality.

He said that after the main roads have fully been cleared of puddles, workers would move on to internal roads. "We urge all residents with rain-related problems to call the municipality hotline and give their address so that our workers can come and clean up," he said.

vtodorova@thenational.ae

malkhan@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Yasin Kakande