UAE weather: Heavy rain and thunder hit Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Some flights cancelled and intercity bus services suspended following morning downpours

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Abu Dhabi and Dubai were hit by heavy rain, thunder and lightning on Thursday.

Residents were woken up by rumbles of thunder as cracks of lightning lit up the skies from about 1.30am.

The weather had calmed significantly by about 5am, before another bout of intense rain began shortly before 8am.

Further rain was recorded in the Northern Emirates in the morning.

The National Centre of Meteorology issued an orange alert – warning of hazardous weather events – for large parts of the country until 8pm on Thursday.

The centre had earlier advised that the unstable weather would be less severe than the storms which battered the Emirates on April 16.

Trees upended

But the persistent rain caused flooding on roads in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with trees upended by high winds, and flights and public transport services disrupted.

Dubai International Airport said 13 flights were cancelled and five diverted before normal service resumed later on Thursday evening.

Passengers were advised to use the Dubai Metro to reach the airport because of traffic jams.

“If you're flying from Dubai International Airport today, please allow extra time to get to the airport as there's some congestion on the roads,” Dubai Airports wrote on X.

“Use the Dubai Metro to get to Terminals 1 and 3, where possible.”

Emirates Airline said on Thursday that six flights – between Dubai and Istanbul, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Cairo, Amman and Singapore – had been cancelled due to the bad weather.

“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience. Affected customers will be reaccommodated,” Emirates said in a travel update on its website.

Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority said intercity bus services had been temporarily suspended.

The authority said a number of ferry routes were also suspended on Thursday.

These included services to and from the Dubai Water Canal to Al Ghubaiba, Dubai Water Canal to Bluewaters and Al Ghubaiba to Sharjah Aquarium.

Dubai Municipality announced beaches, public parks and open markets would be closed on Thursday.

Police in Abu Dhabi and Dubai urged motorists to exercise caution if they had to drive.

Abu Dhabi Police reduced speed limits to 100kph on some routes – including sections of the Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Road – during the morning commute as a safety precaution.

The force said normal speed limits had been restored on external roads, in a social media message posted shortly before 1pm.

Safety alert after landslide

Ras Al Khaimah Police urged drivers to take care on Emirates Road, towards the Al Shuhada Road exit, following a landslide.

The police said they were closely monitoring the situation and advised motorists to stay alert and follow traffic guidance to ensure their safety and those of others.

Maj Gen Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, commander-in-chief of Sharjah Police, said in a local radio interview on Thursday afternoon that traffic was flowing smoothly in the emirate and no road closures were in place.

He said authorities were working to prevent further flooding in the emirate.

Ready for the rain

Last month the country experienced record rainfall that flooded roads and homes and caused widespread disruption to public transport and airport travel.

The recent hazardous weather prompted authorities to ensure plans were in place to deal with the stormy conditions.

The clean-up operation is well under way on main roads and communities in Dubai, including the deployment of tankers to drain floodwater from streets.

Dubai Police had sent out a mobile phone alert on Wednesday evening, urging the public to be vigilant and stay safe.

The notice advised people to “avoid beaches, refrain from sailing, stay clear of valleys and areas prone to flash floods”.

The UAE had already called for remote work and distance learning to be implemented on Thursday and Friday as the country prepared for heavy rain and thunder.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority on Wednesday issued the guidance for all schools and universities and the public and private sector.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation advised private sector companies to apply flexible and remote work patterns on Thursday.

Distance learning had already been announced for all private schools in Dubai and Sharjah on Thursday and Friday.

Officials announced that all government schools in the UAE would similarly introduce remote learning on both days.

However, key exams at some schools were still going ahead in-person, The National learnt.

Updated: May 08, 2024, 11:45 AM