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Flooding in Dubai amid atypical heavy rain is disrupting traffic on UAE roads and airport runways.

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Heavy rain lashed the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, flooding portions of main roads, leaving vehicles abandoned on Dubai’s roads and briefly halting traffic at the city-state’s sprawling international airport. Meanwhile, the death toll from heavy flooding in neighboring Oman rose to 18, with others still missing as the sultanate braced for the storm.

The rains began overnight, leaving huge ponds on normally parched streets and airport tarmacs, while strong winds helped disrupt flights at Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for travelers. international travel and headquarters of long-haul carrier Emirates. By evening, more than 4.75 inches of rain had soaked the UAE – the typical average for an entire year in the desert country – and more is expected in the coming hours.

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

Abdel Hadi Ramahi/Reuters


Police and emergency personnel drove slowly through flooded streets, their emergency lights flashing as lightning streaked across the sky, at times touching the tip of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

Schools in the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhdoms, were largely closed before the storm and government employees mostly worked remotely where possible. Many workers also stayed home, although some ventured outside, with the unfortunates stranding their vehicles in deeper-than-expected water covering some roads.

Authorities sent tanker trucks into the streets to pump out floodwaters, which poured into some homes, forcing people to grab buckets and buckets to try to bail out their homes.

Rain is unusual in the United Arab Emirates, an arid country on the Arabian Peninsula, but it occurs periodically during the cooler winter months. Many roads and other areas lack drainage due to the lack of regular rainfall, which has exacerbated flooding.

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

Abdel Hadi Ramahi/Reuters


Rain also fell in Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In neighboring Oman, a sultanate on the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, at least 18 people have been killed during heavy rains in recent days, according to a statement released Tuesday by the country’s National Emergency Management Committee. This includes around ten schoolchildren who were taken away in a vehicle with an adult on Monday.

Climatologists have been warning for years that human-caused disruptions climate change feeds more extreme and less predictable weather conditions events around the world.

Parts of southern Russia and Central Asia have also been facing unusually devastating amounts of rain and melting snow for several days, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate to higher ground and killing more than 60 people in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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