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Dubai airport operations ramp up as flooding from heaviest rains ever recorded in the UAE continues on roads

Dubai airport operations ramp up as flooding from heaviest rains ever recorded in the UAE continues on roads


Dubai, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates struggled on Thursday for him recover from the heaviest rainfall on record to ever hit the desert nation as its main airport worked to restore normal operations, even as floodwaters still covered parts of highways and major roads.

Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest for international travel, allowed global carriers on Thursday morning to fly back into Terminal 1 at the airport. Later on Thursday, the facility said in a message posted on social media that its Terminal 3 was also reopening for flight control, but it warned passengers to come only if their pending departure was confirmed due to “a large volume of guests in control – in the area.”

“Flights continue to be delayed and cancelled, so we urge you to come to Terminal 1 only if you have a confirmed reservation,” the airport said in series of tweets.

People queue at a flight connection desk after a rainstorm hit Dubai, causing delays at Dubai International Airport
People wait at a flight connection desk after a rainstorm hit Dubai, causing severe disruption at Dubai International Airport, in the United Arab Emirates, April 17, 2024.

Ruhana Ruhana/REUTERS

Long-haul carrier Emirates, whose operations have been disrupted since the storm on Tuesday, had barred travelers flying from the United Arab Emirates from checking into their flights as they tried to evacuate connecting passengers. Pilots and flight crews had struggled to reach the airport given the water on the road. But on Thursday, they lifted that order to allow customers into the airport.

Others who arrived at the airport described waiting for hours to collect their luggage, while some simply gave up to head home or to whatever hotel they had.

The United Arab Emirates, a hereditarily ruled autocratic nation on the Arabian Peninsula, typically sees little rainfall in its arid desert climate. However, forecasters of the massive storm had warned for days that it would hit the country's seven sheikhdoms. By late Tuesday, more than 5.59 inches of rain had drenched Dubai over 24 hours. An average year sees 3.73 inches of rain at Dubai International Airport. Other areas of the country saw even more rainfall.

Here's why less than half a foot of unexpected rain in Dubai had such a big impact


The UAE's drainage systems were quickly overwhelmed, flooding neighborhoods, business districts and even parts of the 12-lane Sheikh Zayed Road that runs through Dubai.

State news agency WAM called the rain “a historic weather event” that exceeded “anything documented since data collection began in 1949”.

In a message to the nation late Wednesday, Emirati leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi, said authorities would “work quickly to study the state of infrastructure across the UAE and limit damage caused”.

On Thursday, people waded through oil-soaked waters to reach previously abandoned cars, checking to see if their engines were still running. Vacuum tanker trucks also started reaching some areas outside of Dubai city center for the first time. Schools remain closed until next week.

Rain of the Arabian Peninsula
A man walks through floodwaters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 17, 2024.

Jon Gambrell/AP

Authorities have not released any general information on damage or injuries from the flooding, which killed at least one person.

“Crises reveal the strength of countries and societies,” wrote the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in X. “The natural climate crisis we experienced showed the care, awareness, cohesion and great love for every corner of the country by all citizens and its inhabitants”.

The floods fueled speculation that the UAE is aggressive cloud seeding campaign — flying small planes through chemical-dispersing clouds intending to rain — may have contributed to the flood. But experts said the storm systems that caused the rain had been predicted much earlier and that cloud seeding alone would not have caused such flooding.

Jeff Masters, a meteorologist for Yale Climate Connections, said the flooding in Dubai was caused by an extremely strong low-pressure system that spawned multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms.

Climatologists have warned for years that this is human-driven climate change is feeding more extreme and less predictable weather events around the globe.

Protecting the planet: The impact of climate change on severe weather


Parts of southern Russia and central Asia have also faced extremely damaging amounts of rainfall and snowmelt for days, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate to higher ground and killing more than 120 people in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Dubai hosted the United Nations COP28 climate talks just last year.

Abu Dhabi's state-linked newspaper The National, in an editorial on Thursday, described the heavy rains as a warning to countries in the wider Persian Gulf region to “climate-proof their future”.

“The scale of this task is more daunting than it seems at first glance, because such changes involve changing the urban environment of a region that, for as long as it has been inhabited, has experienced little except heat and sand,” he writes. newspaper. .




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