x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Motorists warned over sandstorm hazards

Police urge caution for drivers as storms reduce visibility on roads across the country.

The wind created a dusty commute for motorists on the Sheikh Zayed Road this morning.
The wind created a dusty commute for motorists on the Sheikh Zayed Road this morning.

SHARJAH // Police are urging motorists to take extra care as sandstorms reduce visibility on roads across the country.

On the commuter route from Dubai to Abu Dhabi this morning, cars slowed to 80kph. Strong winds buffeted vehicles, tore fronds from palm tress, and blew sand over the carriageway, causing a slipping hazard. Visibility in places was as low as 50 metres.

A traffic officer said the conditions had caused a number of accidents on Sharjah to Dubai commuter routes.

"We cannot yet give figures as it is still morning and people are still going to work but there is almost a minor accident on every road in the emirate connecting to other emirates or places of work," said the officer. "We caution motorists to be patient and careful as their visibility is already down."

In Kalba, Sharjah, sea levels have risen dangerously, flooding many of the roads closest to the coast.

"The Kalba corniche itself is fully flooded with water," said Saeed Mohammed, a resident. "One can think it rained heavily but not a single drop came from heaven - all the water is coming from the sea."

The sandstorms have been brought by southern winds, according to an official from the Sharjah Airport Meteorological Center. "The winds are also expected to reduce the temperature levels across the country though humidity is likely to rise in some areas on Sunday night."

He advised fishermen and beach goers to avoid the sea until the weather stabilises.

For some, the inclement weather may have been more welcome. Students at the JSS International school in Al Barsha were given a holiday due to the sandstorm. The Indian school, which has 1,200 students, said it took the decision as a precautionary measure. "The school is located in an open place and we don't want our students to suffer because of the bad weather. The visibility was very low in the morning and we declared a holiday," said a staff member.

The school's other branch, near Al Safa park is functioning normally.

ykakande@thenational.ae