Giant hailstones fall on the UAE as unstable weather continues

Freezing shower piled up balls of ice in Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain on Sunday morning

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Winter may technically be over, but the arrival of spring brought something rarely seen in the UAE – hailstones.

The heavy shower of freezing rain fell on Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain yesterday morning as unstable weather – which yesterday brought sandstorms – continues to disrupt life in the UAE.

The National Centre of Meteorology posted videos featuring piles of freezing rain at the side of the road and people picking up and inspecting handfuls of hailstones in Fujairah.

Hailstones may be unusual for the UAE, which rarely experiences temperatures low enough to produce snow and freezing rain, but they are not unheard of during stormy weather, which occurred in Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah.

Hail occurs when strong currents of rising air, otherwise known as updrafts, carry droplets of water up high enough to freeze, as the higher you go, the colder it gets. And the stronger an updraft, the larger a hailstone can grow.

Updrafts can be caused by the sun heating the ground, which causes the surrounding air to rise, creating the perfect conditions for hail, even in the hot UAE desert.

This type of phenomenon occurs most often during early summer, according to forecasters. This is because the surface temperatures are high enough to create instability associated with strong thunderstorms, but the upper atmosphere remains cooler.

The UAE winter was noticeably colder this year, with temperatures falling as low as 8°C some nights, due to cold weather in the Mediterranean.

But last week, forecasters warned of a sudden change of seasons accompanied by a significant rise in temperatures.

Temperatures will rise towards Wednesday, with stronger winds that are expected to bring dust and sandstorms, rain and the possibility of thunder, said forecasters.

The weather will remain dusty and cloudy on Sunday with scattered rain, especially in the north and east. Winds will be moderate to strong at times over the sea, bringing dust and sand which will affect visibility. The sea will be rough to very rough and temperatures will reach 35°C inland and 33°C on the coast.