Dust storm sparks traffic chaos

Motorists were urged to be cautious on the roads due to reduced visibility as winds of up to 50 kph whipped up dust into the air.

Pedestrians brave the dust near Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi. Christopher Pike / The National
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ABU DHABI // A sandstorm brought traffic to a standstill in some areas of the country on Sunday, as motorists reported chaos on the road in the limited visibility.

With winds of up to 50kph whipping up the sand and dust into the air, motorists were urged to be cautious. Major traffic jams were reported along Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road during peak afternoon traffic hours.

“The south-easterly to southerly flow accelerated today, blowing dust and sand, reducing horizontal visibility,” said the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) duty forecaster.

“Convective clouds started to develop in the eastern region at 2pm ...and extended towards the area between Jebel Ali and Dubai. These were associated with different intensities of rain.”

The Ministry of Interior took to Twitter to advise drivers of “light to medium rain on different parts in Al Ain. Motorists are urged to drive cautiously”.

Dubai Police warned motorists via Twitter about an accident on Al Khail Road under the Meydan Bridge towards Jebel Ali, and asked them to take an alternative route.

Heavy rain was reported over the town of Al Showaib to the north-east of Al Ain, and in some parts of the main road between Al Ain and Dubai and surrounding parts of Al Ain, the forecaster at NCMS said.

At about 3pm, heavy rain lashed Zakher, near Al Ain, knocking down trees in some areas.

The NCMS warning to motorists also extended to mariners with the rough sea conditions.

“Motorists are advised to take the necessary precautions due to poor visibility,” the forecaster said. “The sea is rough so seafarers are also cautioned about heading out to the Arabian Gulf and Arabian Sea.”

Abu Dhabi Police issued a warning on Twitter at 4pm: “Reduced visibility due to dust in different areas in #AbuDhabi and highways. Motorists are urged to drive with caution.”

An hour later, Abu Dhabi Police tweeted: “Medium to heavy rain on different parts in #AbuDhabi. Motorists are urged to drive cautiously.”

It also shared a photo of a sandstorm in one area of Abu Dhabi.

Residents also tweeted photos of a sandstorm on Sheikh Zayed Road and rain in some parts of Dubai.

Sunday’s temperature in Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah reached 47°C, while there were highs of 47°C in Al Ain, 46°C in Dubai, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain, 48°C in Sharjah and 37°C in Fujairah.

On Saturday, the mercury hit 48.6°C in the western part of the country near the UAE-Saudi border.

The relative humidity on Sunday reached a high of 80 per cent in Abu Dhabi and Fujairah, 70 per cent in Dubai, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain and RAK, and 65 per cent in Ajman.

The weather for the next 48 hours will be hazy and partly cloudy to cloudy, especially over the eastern areas. There is a chance of some towering clouds over the eastern areas by afternoon.

Moderate to fresh winds are expected, which will cause blowing dust and sand and reduced visibility over inland areas.

Wind speed is expected to gradually decrease by tomorrow night.

South-easterly to north-easterly winds will reach speeds of 18kph to 38kph generally, reaching 57kph over the coast.

The sea will be moderate to rough in the Arabian Gulf and Oman Sea, and will become moderate in general by Tuesday night. Relative humidity will increase early in the morning over some areas, especially over the internal areas, the NCMS forecast said.