Record Rains Wash Off Dubai's Glitz

Flights were delayed or cancelled as several thoroughfares were flooded

Record Rains Wash Off Dubai's Glitz

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has to seed clouds for rains to address its water shortage, got more than what it bargained for after it was hit with record post-Eidul Fitr dust and rain storms. It received rains over several hours, which it normally gets over two years.

UAE authorities said that it received around 254 millimetres of rain on Tuesday. It caused a deluge on its massive thoroughfares, claiming at least one life when a 70-year-old man was swept away in his car in Rais Al Kaimah. 

Life in Dubai's trade and financial hub and Abu Dhabi's capital all but came to a standstill due to the floods, which swept away cars, turned roads into rivers, drowned basements, and glitzy malls.

Dubai, which fields hundreds of flights daily, saw delayed or cancelled arrivals and departures, with many flights diverted from the Gulf state.

Emirates Airline, the flag bearer for the Emirate of Dubai, cancelled all check-ins on Wednesday as its staff and passengers struggled to arrive and leave after access roads were flooded. Services of Dubai's rail-based metro were also suspended after sections were flooded.

First, the long queue of taxis that dot the airport disappeared due to the heavy rain. When a few taxis did reappear, there were few areas where they could ferry passengers due to flooded roads.

Offices and schools were either closed or switched to work-from-home patterns during the pandemic era as commuting was neither possible nor advised by the government.

Climatologists say the current storms and increasing intensity of rains, heat and cold (during winters) in the UAE and wider Gulf region are growing due to warming oceans with the compounded effect of cloud seeding in countries like the UAE, which uses it to help temper the extreme climate and to boost freshwater reserves—the UAE plans 300 cloud seeding missions in 2024 alone.

But they cause stormy and unpredictable weather, such as a hailstorm in the desert region of UAE.

Warming oceans and seas result in water evaporating faster, injecting more water vapour into the atmosphere that can condense into intense rain storms, like the one in the UAE. Weather phenomena such as El Nino also reinforce warming and wetter weather.