Dense fog and travel disruption set to continue until Thursday

Etihad says it anticipates some delays over the next few days and urged travellers to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 25 DECEMBER 2017. Christmas morning weather STANDALONE. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: None. Section: National.
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People have been warned to prepare for even more delays as fog is set to persist across the UAE.

Heavy fog has blanketed parts of the country since Friday, disrupting flights, stranding passengers and causing traffic problems over the busy holiday period.

But no respite is forecast until at least Thursday.

Dense fog could hit Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the central and northern areas of the country, the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) said on Monday.

“In a few hours it will become hazy and there is a chance that fog will develop from 10pm,” said Abed Damaj, a forecaster with the NCM.

"Conditions are perfect for fog at the moment."

Etihad Airways on Monday said it “anticipates some flight delays and cancellations” in the next few days due to the forecast.

“As a consequence, some return flights into Abu Dhabi are also expected to face disruption," it said.

Etihad reported no major delays on Monday despite the bad weather overnight, but it advised customers travelling over the next few days to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport.

On Sunday, dozens of flights were delayed and diverted at Dubai airport because poor visibility had restricted capacity. Both Fly Dubai and Emirates had to cancel or divert flights.

By Monday, an airport spokesman said the situation was much improved, with three inbound flights that were diverted late on Sunday arriving at Dubai early on Monday morning.

“Operations at Dubai International are in recovery mode after weather conditions improved in the early hours of today [Monday],” a spokesman said.

“Dubai Airports is working with airlines and other stakeholders to ensure the comfort of our customers and regrets any inconvenience caused to the affected passengers.”

The adverse conditions have also caused havoc on the country’s roads. One person died and six others were injured between December 21 and 24, the Ministry of Interior said. It added that the accidents were caused by reckless driving.

Dubai Police said they received 1,521 calls on Sunday morning due to the weather conditions.

Police across the country have been urging motorists to slow down, use dipped headlights, keep a safe distance from other cars and drive slowly. They also warned drivers not to use hazard lights during foggy conditions.

The fog is being caused by very humid air over the water, which is then pushed inland by a mild sea breeze. Compounding this is the existence of a weather “inversion”, meaning temperatures increase with height and the humidity cannot escape into the atmosphere. The long, cool nights are also a factor.

“You have 12 or 13 hours of night so this is a very good period for cooling as fog needs humidity and then cooling of the air to form," said Mr Damaj.

He added that the conditions were normal for this time of year.

Etihad Airways, meanwhile, said it was continuing to monitor the adverse weather conditions in Abu Dhabi and had prepared contingency plans in the event of further disruption.

“Etihad Airways regrets any inconvenience caused that is beyond our control, and thanks guests for their understanding during this holiday period,” it said.

“The safety of our guests and crew remains our utmost priority.”


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