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Heaviest Rainfall Ever in UAE 04/18 07:21

   

   DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- The United Arab Emirates struggled 
Thursday to recover from the heaviest recorded rainfall ever to hit the desert 
nation, as its main airport worked to restore normal operations even as 
floodwater still covered portions of major highways and roads.

   Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest for international travel, 
allowed global carriers on Thursday morning to again fly into Terminal 1 at the 
airfield.

   "Flights continue to be delayed and disrupted, so we urge you to only come 
to Terminal 1 if you have a confirmed booking," the airport said on the social 
platform X.

   The long-haul carrier Emirates, whose operations had been struggling since 
the storm Tuesday, had stopped travelers flying out of the UAE from checking 
into their flights as they tried to move out connecting passengers. Pilots and 
flight crews had been struggling to reach the airport given the water on 
roadways. But on Thursday, they lifted that order to allow customers into the 
airport.

   Others who arrived at the airport described hourslong waits to get their 
baggage, with some just giving up to head home or to whatever hotel would have 
them.

   The UAE, a hereditarily ruled, autocratic nation on the Arabian Peninsula, 
typically sees little rainfall in its arid desert climate. However, a massive 
storm forecasters had been warning about for days blew through the country's 
seven sheikhdoms.

   By the end of Tuesday, more than 142 millimeters (5.59 inches) of rainfall 
had soaked Dubai over 24 hours. An average year sees 94.7 millimeters (3.73 
inches) of rain at Dubai International Airport. Other areas of the country saw 
even more precipitation.

   The UAE's drainage systems quickly became overwhelmed, flooding out 
neighborhoods, business districts and even portions of the 12-lane Sheikh Zayed 
Road highway running through Dubai.

   The state-run WAM news agency called the rain "a historic weather event" 
that surpassed "anything documented since the start of data collection in 1949."

   In a message to the nation late Wednesday, Emirati leader Sheikh Mohammed 
bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, said authorities would "quickly 
work on studying the condition of infrastructure throughout the UAE and to 
limit the damage caused."

   On Thursday, people waded through oil-slicked floodwater to reach cars 
earlier abandoned, checking to see if their engines still ran. Tanker trucks 
with vacuums began reaching some areas outside of Dubai's downtown core for the 
first time as well. Schools remain closed until next week.

   Authorities have offered no overall damage or injury information from the 
floods, which killed at least one person.

   "Crises reveal the strength of countries and societies," Dubai's ruler, 
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, wrote on X. "The natural climate crisis 
that we experienced showed the great care, awareness, cohesion and love for 
every corner of the country from all its citizens and residents."

   The flooding sparked speculation that the UAE's aggressive campaign of cloud 
seeding -- flying small planes through clouds dispersing chemicals aimed at 
getting rain to fall -- may have contributed to the deluge. But experts said 
the storm systems that produced the rain were forecast well in advance and that 
cloud seeding alone would not have caused such flooding.

   Jeff Masters, a meteorologist for Yale Climate Connections, said the 
flooding in Dubai was caused by an unusually strong low pressure system that 
drove many rounds of heavy thunderstorms.

   Scientists also say climate change is responsible for more intense and more 
frequent extreme storms, droughts, floods and wildfires around the world. Dubai 
hosted the United Nations' COP28 climate talks just last year.

   Abu Dhabi's state-linked newspaper The National in an editorial Thursday 
described the heavy rains as a warning to countries in the wider Persian Gulf 
region to "climate-proof their futures."

   "The scale of this task is more daunting that it appears even at first 
glance, because such changes involve changing the urban environment of a region 
that for as long as it has been inhabited, has experienced little but heat and 
sand," the newspaper said.

 
 
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