UAE skies set to clear after turbulent weekend of thunder, lightning and sandstorms

UAE Weather: The skies will start to clear after a turbulent weekend of rain, sandstorms and high winds, fatal car crashes and property damage.

Dubai, April 7, 2013 - The sky took on an eerie orange cast during this morning's sandstorm over JLT in Dubai, April 7, 2013. (Photo by: Sarah Dea/The National)
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DUBAI // The skies will start to clear tomorrow after a turbulent weekend of rain, sandstorms and high winds, fatal car crashes and property damage.

Two people were killed and 11 injured in traffic accidents in Dubai today and Saturday, including a child who was seriously hurt when a car crashed into his home. In Sharjah, two people were killed and four injured in crashes in low visibility over the weekend.

Thirty-six flights to Dubai International Airport were diverted because of the weather.

But the end is in sight: the low-pressure system responsible will move east tomorrow, taking the storms with it, according to the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology.

The dust that buffeted the country, lowering visibility to less than 1,000 metres in some areas, blew in on the same weather system from Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It will also begin to dissipate tomorrow.

Today, as the sun peeked through the clouds, residents and businesses took stock of the damage.

In Abu Dhabi, police received nearly 1,400 weather-related reports, including 388 reports of minor, injury-free traffic accidents on Saturday.

In Al Ain, the municipality’s emergency office received about 90 weather-related reports, mostly regarding pools of rainwater or objects being knocked over.

Sharjah Municipality formed an emergency committee to cope with rain-related problems. Municipal workers were busy today removing debris and dust that had swept across roads and buildings.

“All the drainage water pipes installed recently were working well and there were no reports of flooding on roads,” said Riyadh Abdullah Eilan, the muncipality’s acting director general.

“We are calling on residents to call our toll free number 993 for any rain-related emergencies like floods or ponds of water, collection of dust or falling of trees in their neighbourhood,” Mr Eilan said.

The most serious vehicle crashes were in Dubai. The first fatality happened overnight on Saturday, when a collision at Al Warqaa roundabout sent one vehicle off the road into the sand. An Emirati man was killed and another seriously injured. A witness told police the two vehicles were drag-racing.

At about 8am the same day, a car hit a concrete barrier on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, killing one person and seriously injuring three others.

And this morning a car crashed into a house in Al Qusais, destroying a wall and severely injuring a child asleep in the room.

In Sharjah, in low visibility caused by dust, two vehicles collided on Madam Road on Saturday evening, killing two people and severely injuring two more. In another crash, a driver hit a palm tree, injuring himself and a passenger.

Though the combination of rain and suspended dust surprised many, a meteorologist at the National Centre said it was typical weather for the “transitional period” between winter and summer.

“Maybe it didn’t happen last year, so you don’t remember it, but it happened many years before,” he said.

Not all was doom and gloom: some welcomed the storms.

“It doesn’t rain much here, so that’s what makes it more special, and you feel more happy,” said Reshma Sulthana, 19, a university student in Sharjah. “I’m from India and it usually rains a lot over there. Over there, people say ‘Oh no, it’s raining’, and over here it’s the opposite.”

Zahid Altaf, 26, an Abu Dhabi resident from Pakistan, was in awe at the yellow-tinged sky he saw while driving to Dubai today.

“This weather actually is good,” he said. “Because now the next four or five months are going to be very crazy – something similar to hell. It’s going to be very hot and humid. This weather is a good way to say goodbye to nice weather.”

Humidity is expected to increase tomorrow night, with a chance of fog on Tuesday.