Dubai floods hamper main airport operations as 'historic weather event' dumps heavy rains on UAE

Dubai United Arab Emirates – The desert nation of the United Arab Emirates attempted to dry out on Wednesday from the heaviest downpours ever recorded after water flooded Dubai International Airport, disrupting travel through the world's busiest airport for international travel. The state-run WAM news agency described Tuesday's rain as a “historic climate event” that surpassed “anything documented since data collection began in 1949.”

Rain began to fall late Monday, drenching sand and roads in Dubai with about 0.79 inches of rain, according to meteorological data collected at Dubai International Airport. The storms intensified around 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday and continued throughout the day, bringing more rain and hail to the stricken city.

Floods affect Dubai International Airport

By the end of Tuesday, Dubai had averaged more than 5.59 inches of rainfall over a 24-hour period. An average year sees just 3.73 inches of rain at Dubai International Airport, a hub for Emirates airline's long-haul flights.

At the airport, stagnant water fell on the runways as planes landed. Arriving flights were halted on Tuesday night, and passengers faced difficulty reaching the stations due to floodwaters that covered the surrounding roads.

Drivers drive along a flooded street after heavy rain in Dubai, early on April 17, 2024.

Giuseppe Casassi/AFP/Getty

The airport said in a Social media post series All operations were halted for approximately 25 minutes on Tuesday afternoon, and all arrivals would then be diverted “until weather conditions improve.” Late Wednesday morning, the airport and its flagship airline Emirates were still warning travelers not to come to the airport unless absolutely necessary, saying all check-in procedures for the flight were still suspended.

“Flights are still delayed and diverted. Please check your flight status directly with your airline,” the airport said in a tweet. “We are working hard to restore operations as quickly as possible in very difficult conditions.”

A couple, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity in a country with strict laws criminalizing critical expression, described the situation at the airport as “absolute carnage.”

“You can't get a taxi. There are people sleeping at the metro station. There are people sleeping at the airport,” the man said on Wednesday.

They ended up getting a taxi near their home about 18 miles away, but floodwaters on the road stopped them. A passerby helped them cross the highway barrier with their carry-on luggage, bottles of gin they'd picked up from a duty-free shop clinking.

Passengers wait at the connecting desk at Dubai International Airport, on April 17, 2024, amid flight delays and cancellations due to flash flooding caused by a historic rainstorm.


Paul Griffiths, the airport's chief executive, acknowledged continuing problems with flooding on Wednesday morning, saying that every place where a plane could safely stand had been taken over. Some aircraft were diverted to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai World Central, the second airport in the city-state.

“This is still a very difficult time,” Griffiths told state-owned radio station Dubai Eye. “In living memory, I don’t think anyone has ever seen conditions like these before.” “We are in uncharted territory, but I can assure everyone that we are working as hard as we can to make sure our customers and employees are taken care of.”

Did cloud seeding contribute to this?

Rain also fell in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, rain was heavy across the UAE. “Maybe that was one of the reasons.”Cloud seeding“, where small government planes pass through the clouds and burn special salt torches. These torches can increase rainfall.

Several reports quoted meteorologists at the National Center of Meteorology as saying that they made six or seven cloud seeding flights before the rains. The center did not immediately respond to questions on Wednesday, although flight tracking data analyzed by the AP showed that a plane belonging to the UAE's cloud seeding efforts flew around the country on Sunday.

The UAE, which relies heavily on energy-hungry desalination plants to provide water, Cloud seeding is taking place This is partly due to increased and limited groundwater.

Floods close schools across the UAE

Schools across the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms, had largely closed before the storm, and government employees were largely working remotely if they could. Many workers also stayed home, although some ventured out, while unlucky workers parked their cars in deeper-than-expected water covering some roads.

Cars on a flooded street during a rainstorm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 16, 2024.

Abdul Hadi Al Ramahi – Reuters

The authorities sent tanker trucks to the streets and highways to pump water. Water flowed into some homes, forcing people to save their homes.

The country's hereditary rulers did not provide any public information about damage or injuries to the nation, as some people slept in their flooded cars on Tuesday night. In Ras Al Khaimah, the far north of the country, police said a 70-year-old man died when his car was swept away by floodwaters.

The Emirate of Fujairah, located on the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates, witnessed heavy rain on Tuesday, with levels reaching 5.7 inches.

The authorities canceled schools and the government decided to work remotely again on Wednesday.

Rainfall is unusual in the UAE, an arid country on the Arabian Peninsula, but occurs periodically during the cold winter months. Many roads and other areas lack drainage due to lack of regular rainfall, causing flooding.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Oman, the sultanate on the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, at least 19 people have been killed by torrential rains in recent days, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the country's National Emergency Management Committee. This includes about 10 pupils who were swept away by a car along with an adult, prompting condolences from governors across the region.

Vehicles on a flooded street during a rainstorm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 16, 2024.

Abdul Hadi Al Ramahi – Reuters

Climate scientists have warned for years that it is human-driven Climate change Nourishes More extreme and less predictable weather Events around the world.

Parts of southern Russia and Central Asia have been facing unusually devastating amounts of rain and melting snow for days, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate to higher areas and areas. More than 60 people were killed In Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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