Dubai Deluge: Desert City Grinds to a Halt as Heavy Rainfall Submerges Streets and Airport, Climate Change and Cloud Seeding Blamed

The rain began late Monday, initially soaking the sands and roadways with approximately 20 millimetres (0.79 inches) of rainfall. The intensity of the downpour escalated throughout Tuesday, with more than 142 millimetres (5.59 inches) drenching Dubai by the end of the day.

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Heavy rainfall on Tuesday brought the desert city of Dubai to a standstill, flooding portions of its major highways and even impacting operations at the international airport. Visuals shared on social media depicted planes navigating through flooded tarmacs, highlighting the severity of the situation.

Operations at the Dubai airport were temporarily suspended for 25 minutes in the afternoon due to the deluge before gradually resuming. According to the Associated Press, meteorological data collected at Dubai International Airport revealed that the city received a staggering amount of rainfall equivalent to a year and a half’s worth within just 24 hours.

The rain began late Monday, initially soaking the sands and roadways with approximately 20 millimetres (0.79 inches) of rainfall. The intensity of the downpour escalated throughout Tuesday, with more than 142 millimetres (5.59 inches) drenching Dubai by the end of the day. This deluge far exceeds the average yearly rainfall of 94.7 millimetres (3.73 inches) recorded at Dubai International Airport.

In anticipation of the heavy rains, the UAE government issued warnings advising residents to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary. Subsequently, it announced remote working until Wednesday for all federal employees to ensure their safety.

The unusual weather phenomenon that plunged Dubai into chaos is attributed to a larger storm system traversing the Arabian Peninsula and moving across the Gulf of Oman, as reported by CNN. This same system has also caused unusually wet weather in nearby Oman and southeastern Iran, resulting in tragic fatalities due to flooding.

Friederike Otto, a prominent figure in assessing the impact of climate change on extreme weather events, highlighted the role of global warming in exacerbating the rainfall. Otto, from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, emphasized that human-induced climate change likely intensified the severity of the rainfall.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that the heavy rains in Dubai were partly influenced by cloud seeding efforts. The UAE has been conducting cloud seeding operations since 2002 to address water security concerns. This technique involves introducing chemicals and tiny particles, such as natural salts, into the atmosphere to stimulate rain formation.

Ahmed Habib, a specialist meteorologist, revealed that seeding planes had conducted seven missions over the past two days. “For any cloud that’s suitable over the UAE, you make the operation,” he explained, shedding light on the proactive measures taken to mitigate the impact of the extreme weather conditions in the region.

As Dubai grapples with the aftermath of the unprecedented rainfall, the convergence of natural weather patterns and human interventions underscores the complexities of managing climatic challenges in an urban landscape.

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