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Dubai Records Unprecedented Rainfall, Causing Disruptions and Fatalities

Dubai faces unprecedented disruption with record rainfall since 1949, causing flight diversions, floods, and a fatality.

By Mackenzie Crow

4/17, 02:19 EDT

Key Takeaway

  • Dubai experiences record rainfall since 1949, causing widespread disruptions including power outages, flooding, and a fatality in the UAE.
  • Dubai International Airport faces significant delays and cancellations, impacting global travel.
  • Government employs cloud seeding to enhance rainfall amidst environmental concerns; advises work from home and school closures.

Record Rainfall Disrupts Dubai

Dubai and the broader United Arab Emirates (UAE) have experienced unprecedented rainfall, the heaviest since records began in 1949, according to Dubai’s media office. This extreme weather event has caused significant disruptions across the city, including power outages in some buildings, homes, and underground car parks being flooded, and widespread flooding persisting a day after the rainfall. The National newspaper reported one fatality due to flash floods in the north of the country, while neighboring Oman has seen at least 18 deaths related to the heavy rains, as per AP's report citing the country’s National Committee for Emergency Management.

Airport and Transportation Chaos

Dubai International Airport, one of the world's busiest hubs, faced "significant disruption," with most arrivals and departures either canceled or delayed as of Wednesday morning. The airport announced on the social media platform X that it was working with partners to restore normal operations and minimize inconvenience. The Roads and Transport Authority advised motorists on alternative routes due to expected delays and road closures, highlighting the extensive impact on the city's transportation network.

Cloud Seeding and Environmental Factors

Ahmed Habib, a specialist meteorologist, attributed part of the heavy rains to cloud seeding operations, a practice the UAE began in 2002 to enhance water security. The National Center of Meteorology dispatched at least seven seeding planes to take advantage of convective cloud formations, using natural salts to encourage more rainfall. Despite the flooding, Dubai’s media office referred to the downpours as “rains of goodness,” in light of global warming threats and the potential for increased heat-related deaths in the UAE.

Community and Government Response

In response to the adverse weather, the Dubai government directed its employees to work from home on Wednesday and urged private employers to do the same. Schools across the UAE were instructed to remain closed, with pupils continuing their studies through online classes, a measure reminiscent of the Covid-19 pandemic's height. Social media users shared videos and updates on the aftermath, including cars being swept away and infrastructure damage. The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority emphasized the importance of staying indoors and adhering to safety guidelines.