NewsStorm Dumps Record Rain Across The UAE And Floods Dubai Airport

Storm Dumps Record Rain Across The UAE And Floods Dubai Airport

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The desert nation of the United Arab Emirates attempted to dry out Wednesday from the heaviest rain ever recorded there after a deluge flooded out Dubai International Airport, disrupting travel through the world’s busiest airfield for international travel.

The state-run WAM news agency called the rain Tuesday “a historic weather event” that surpassed “anything documented since the start of data collection in 1949.” That’s before the discovery of crude oil in this energy-rich nation then part of a British protectorate known as the Trucial States.

Rain also fell in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, the rains were acute across the UAE. One reason may have been “cloud seeding,” in which small planes flown by the government go through clouds burning special salt flares. Those flares can increase precipitation.

Several reports quoted meteorologists at the National Center for Meteorology as saying they flew six or seven cloud-seeding flights before the rains. The center did not immediately respond to questions Wednesday, though flight-tracking data analyzed by The Associated Press showed one aircraft affiliated with the UAE’s cloud-seeding efforts flew around the country Sunday.

The UAE, which heavily relies on energy-hungry desalination plants to provide water, conducts cloud seeding in part to increase its dwindling, limited groundwater.

People look out at floodwater covering a major road in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on April 17, 2024.People look out at floodwater covering a major road in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on April 17, 2024.

Jon Gambrell via Associated Press

The rains began late Monday, soaking the sands and roadways of Dubai with some 20 millimeters (0.79 inches) of rain, according to meteorological data collected at Dubai International Airport. The storms intensified around 9 a.m. local Tuesday and continued throughout the day, dumping more rain and hail onto the overwhelmed city.

By the end of Tuesday, more than 142 millimeters (5.59 inches) of rainfall had soaked Dubai over 24 hours. An average year sees 94.7 millimeters (3.73 inches) of rain at Dubai International Airport, a hub for the long-haul carrier Emirates.

At the airport, standing water lapped on taxiways as aircraft landed. Arrivals were halted Tuesday night, and passengers struggled to reach terminals through the floodwater covering surrounding roads.

One couple, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to speak freely in a country with strict laws that criminalize critical speech, called the situation at the airport “absolute carnage.”

“You cannot get a taxi. There’s people sleeping in the Metro station. There’s people sleeping in the airport,” the man said Wednesday.

They ended up getting a taxi to near their home some 30 kilometers (18 miles) away, but floodwater on the road stopped them. A bystander helped them over a highway barrier with their carry-on luggage, the bottles of gin they picked up from duty-free clinking away.

Dubai International Airport acknowledged Wednesday morning that the flooding had left “limited transportation options” and affected flights as aircraft crews couldn’t reach the airfield.

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