x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE weather: Heavy to moderate rains across emirates

Heavy to moderate rains hit the country this morning and temperatures have decreased to as low as 10.7ºC, forecasters say.

Flooding at Al Estiqlal Street in Sharjah.  Victor Besa for The National
Flooding at Al Estiqlal Street in Sharjah. Victor Besa for The National
ABU DHABI // Torrential rain and 70kph winds brought traffic chaos, flight delays, flooding and at least one death.
The dead man was a young Emirati driver in his twenties. Police in Fujairah said he lost control of his car and crashed while speeding on a wet road.
“Police forces with an ambulance rushed to the site and found the driver dead,” said Brig Gen Mohammed Al Tunaiji, deputy commander of Fujairah Police.
He urged people to drive cautiously and stay away from dams, wadis and swamps that were susceptible to flash flooding.
In Dubai there were more than 500 road accidents, despite police warnings to motorists to drive carefully.
Lt Col Khazraj Al Khazraji, deputy director of the police control room, said that between 6am and midday, the department took 2,503 calls about weather-related incidents.
“We recorded 515 minor to moderate accidents, but there were no fatalities,” he said.
“Motorists must abide by the traffic laws, especially when there is rain, fog and winds that may carry sand and dust that affect visibility.
“Accidents during such conditions can be extremely dangerous if people are driving recklessly or speeding.”
Lt Col Al Khazraji urged motorists to make sure their windows were clean and that their brake lights were working. They should drive slowly, avoid tailgating and stay in their lanes, and should not turn on their hazard lights unless there is an emergency.
“All motorists should be ready and give enough reaction time to break in case a vehicle in front of them stops suddenly. More reaction time is needed in such weather conditions.”
The weather forced Emirates airline and flydubai to delay, divert or cancel some flights.
“We are continuing to monitor the weather conditions,” a flydubai spokesman said.
In Abu Dhabi there were numerous small crashes and one multi-vehicle accident at 8.20am on the E22 Al Ain to Abu Dhabi Road at Mahwi, which was cleared.
Sharjah Municipality deployed emergency teams to deal with the deluge.
More than 170 water pumps and 70 tankers were sent to known flooding hotspots, said Riyad Ailan, director of the municipality. “Emergency teams have been working around the clock in residential areas to tackle the downpour and flooding on the streets.”
Pumping water from major roads around Sharjah Airport Road and the Emirates E611 highway was the top priority.
Police said there were no major road accidents. Traffic patrols were increased and police used their emergency lights to warn motorists to reduce their speeds.
Abdullah bin Darwish, acting director of Sharjah Traffic Police, said: “Motorists should leave safe distances between vehicles and keep their focus on the road to avoid accidents and loss of life.”
In Al Ain, the Emergency and Crisis Committee mobilised its workers to deal with flooding, trees falling on roads and displaced roadwork barriers.
Saeed Al Kaabi, head of the committee, said there had been no reports of emergencies.
He warned against visiting valleys or mountain areas in case of landslides and flooding.
Winds up to 70kph were recorded, resulting in waves as high as 4.3 metres at sea, said the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology.
The weather bureau advised swimmers and sailors to stay on dry land.
“All the fishermen went fishing during the early hours, but after 11am the coastguards didn’t allow them due to the weather conditions and the heavy rainfall,” said Salem Obaid, manager of the Fujairah Fishermen’s Association.
Rashid Al Muhairi, an Emirati from Ajman and a fisherman for 35 years, said: “We knew three days ago that there would be and thunderstorms. All the fishermen are aware of the danger and difficulty of this weather.”
The weather bureau said the wet weather was likely to continue in northern areas on Monday.
newsdesk@thenational.ae