Oman closes schools as heavy rain causes traffic chaos and damages crops

Civil Aviation Authority says extreme weather is expected to continue for several days

Oman suspended schools on Tuesday as rains caused serious damage to businesses, vehicles and crops across the country.

The extreme rainfall was expected to continue until the weekend, the Civil Aviation Authority’s weather office said.

“Heavy rains will continue for several days and the public needs to limit their travels. Roads will be slippery and drivers must be careful while driving. Fishermen should not venture out to sea with waves expected to reach up to seven metres high,” the authority said.

It forced Oman's ministry of education to suspend classes on Tuesday.

“Schools will be suspended on Tuesday and the ministry of education is waiting for further advice from the official weather forecast to resume classes," state-owned Oman News Agency reported.

Videos on social media showed cars trapped in shopping malls surrounded by water. Traffic slowed as drivers carefully navigated flooded roads.

State-owned Oman Television showed clips of water gushing in and out of underpasses and waterlogged bridges and intersections. Some drivers were forced to return home because they could not reach their places of work.

“I reached half way to my office and thought it was better to make the next U-turn and go back home. The roads are full of water, dangerous and unpredictable,” Khamis Al Waili, 37, who works for the National Bank of Oman, told The National.

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Traders were forced to pull down shutters as water threatened to flood their shops.

“I thought it was OK to open my business this morning. I stayed open for only 20 minutes and the rain started again very heavily," said Yahya Al Farsi, a clothing shop-owner in Muttrah, a seafront town in Muscat.

"Water from the streets started moving into my shop. Before long, the floor was covered by water and I had to go back home."

Farmers are counting the cost too after strong winds and rain ruined crops.

“The rain was heavy last night. I went out to inspect my vegetables this morning and at least 25 per cent of them are floating in the water and heading to the wadi. Some of my trees have been uprooted by the wind too,” Tarek Al Subhi, a farmer at Al Hamra in the Dakhliya region, told The National.

Flooding in Oman, triggered by heavy rain that began on New Year’s Eve, killed six people and left several towns cut off.

The last floods in Oman were in October, when Cyclone Shaheen devastated the country and killed 11 people. Most of the damage was in the Batnah region.

Updated: January 5th 2022, 7:34 AM