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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

'El Nino to blame' as more storms threaten Gulf

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia expected to be receive worst of rain and wind over the weekend

A Kuwaiti man walks in flooded street next to damaged vehicles following heavy rain in Fahaheel in Kuwait. AFP / Yasser Al-Zayyat
A Kuwaiti man walks in flooded street next to damaged vehicles following heavy rain in Fahaheel in Kuwait. AFP / Yasser Al-Zayyat

Kuwait and other parts of the GCC will continue to experience rain and thunderstorms that bring a risk of widespread flooding, from the western coast of Saudi Arabia to Kuwait.

Thunder clouds will bring moderate to heavy rains over Kuwait on Thursday night, according to Dhrar Al Ali, an official at the country's meteorological department.

He forecast heavy winds on Saturday, but said the rain should subside over the weekend.

The hardest-hit areas in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia could receive as much as 130mm of rain in any given 24-hour period over the weekend, creating a risk of flash floods in many areas, Mr Al Ali said.

Although storms are common across the peninsula at this time of year, the severity of the recent bad weather is a result of the recent emergence of El Nino in the Pacific Ocean, according to the Royal Meteorological Society.

Such weather could become common in the future.

“This could be due to a number of reasons, including climate change. Climate change has always been expected to increase the severity of extreme weather events — making heatwaves more intense and making torrential rain even heavier,” a member of the society said.

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Read more:

Jeddah storm warning as deadly floods sweep across Saudi Arabia

Etihad and Emirates cancel flights between Kuwait due to bad weather

Deadly flash floods stir up storm in Kuwait's cabinet

Lack of planning puts Jordan at greater risk from flooding

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The rains in Kuwait over the past week were the worst since 1934, when more than 300mm fell in less than an hour and a half.

The current storm system is expected to create winds of up to 45kph in parts of the GCC, raising the risk of structures collapsing. The storm is expected to remain in northern Saudi Arabia and threatens areas north of Riyadh as well as Jeddah.

“This magnitude of rainfall can quickly cause flash flooding capable of washing away cars and damaging homes and businesses,” Eric Leister, a senior meteorologist at Accuweather, said in a report.