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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

UAE weather: Thunderstorms and heavy showers cause chaos

Thunderstorms and heavy rain continue to batter the UAE, with Dubai feeling the full force of persistent rain overnight and into Monday morning.

Motorists are being urged to take extra care as roads become flooded with standing water and the weather continues to cause chaos.

Standing pools of water took Sheikh Zayed Road down to three lanes close to the new Expo metro intersection near Jebel Ali, with heavy traffic building up.

Some schools asked parents to collect their children shortly after they arrived, these include:

- Winchester School, Jebel Ali

- Dubai British School

- Safa Community School

- Emirates International School (Meadows)

- Gems Modern Academy advised parents that pupils will finish at midday

Amal BelHasa, head of the education regulator KHDA, said it is up to schools if they wish to send pupils home early or close due to adverse weather this week.

“Schools in Dubai are empowered to make weather-related closure decisions, keeping in view the interests of child safety", she said.

"Any and all decisions about school closures will be informed to parents by the school."

Strong winds whipped up sandstorms on Sunday evening in many areas, followed by thunderstorms and flashes of lightning that lit up skies across the country.

Dubai has been taking some of the worst downpours. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Dubai has been taking some of the worst downpours. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Visibility reduced to less than 100 metres in places where rainstorms will be heaviest, that is, in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Umm Al Quwain.

The extreme weather has created some treacherous driving conditions with drivers warned to reduce speed and expect longer than usual travel times. Abu Dhabi fared better on Monday morning and was mostly overcast.

Traffic is particularly slow along the Sheikh Zayed Road on Monday morning, from Jebel Ali to Ghantoot, with drivers advised to seek alternative routes.

Tailbacks are also being reported on the Abu Dhabi-Shahama road near Zayed Sports City.

In Dubai, traffic is also building along the D63 near Studio City heading towards Umm Suqeim and on the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed road in the direction of Sharjah near University City.

Traffic came to a standstill on Hessa Street in the direction of Barsha and also along the E44 near Al Quoz heading towards Business Bay.

The National Centre for Meteorology has issued orange weather warnings for much of the country to prepare for hazardous conditions and red warnings advising people to be vigilant along coastal areas between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

A traffic image shows the extent of the hold-ups around Sharjah first thing on Monday morning. Google Maps
A traffic image shows the extent of the hold-ups around Sharjah first thing on Monday morning. Google Maps

Strong winds could reach speeds of 30 kilometres per hour in places.

More storms with the risk of flooding are expected in eastern areas of the country throughout Monday.

Though cloudy mostly, Monday will feel warm at 25°C for most areas, but temperatures are expected to drop further before clear weather on Wednesday, according to weather forecasts.

In the Northern Emirates, rain and flooding was reported, mostly in Fujairah, where roads quickly became waterlogged.