Chaos in Dubai as UAE records heaviest rainfall in 75 years | CNN (2024)

Chaos in Dubai as UAE records heaviest rainfall in 75 years | CNN (1)

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Dubai flooded with year's worth of rain in just 12 hours

01:24 - Source: CNN

Dubai, UAE CNN

Chaos ensued in the United Arab Emirates after the country witnessed the heaviest rainfall in 75 years, with some areas recording more than 250 mm (around 10 inches) of precipitation in fewer than 24 hours, the state’s media office said in a statement Wednesday.

The rainfall, which flooded streets, uprooted palm trees and shattered building facades, has never been seen in the Middle Eastern nation since records began in 1949. In the popular tourist destination Dubai, flights were canceled, traffic came to a halt and schools closed.

One-hundred millimeters (nearly 4 inches) of rain fell over the course of just 12 hours on Tuesday, according to weather observations at the airport – around what Dubai usually records in an entire year, according to United Nations data.

The rain fell so heavily and so quickly that some motorists were forced to abandon their vehicles as the floodwater rose and roads turned into rivers.

Extreme rainfall events like this are becoming more common as the atmosphere warms due to human-driven climate change. A warmer atmosphere is able tosoak up more moisturelike a towel and then ring it out in the form of flooding rainfall.

The weather conditions were associated with a larger storm system traversing the Arabian Peninsula and moving across the Gulf of Oman. This same system is also bringing unusually wet weather to nearby Oman and southeastern Iran.

In Oman, at least 18 were killed in flash floods triggered by heavy rain, the country’s National Committee for Emergency Management said. Casualties included schoolchildren, according to Oman’s state news agency.

Chaos in Dubai as UAE records heaviest rainfall in 75 years | CNN (2)

Cars are stuck on a flooded road after a rainstorm hit Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.

A 70-year-old man died after flooding swept away his vehicle in the UAE’s Ras Al-Khaimah, a police statement said on Tuesday.

The rainfall continued to shift east Wednesday, impacting parts of southern Iran and Pakistan, areas that see little rainfall this time of year. Iran’s southernmost city of Chabahar, in the Sistan and Baluchestan province, recorded 130 mm of rain.

People attempting to travel by road into the center of Dubai on Wednesday were trapped on the city’s highway.

“The scary part is that there was nowhere you can go,” said Sofie, a Dubai resident who declined to provide a last name. Sofie ended up stranded outside her home for nearly 12 hours, some of which were spent sleeping in her car as surrounding roads remained submerged.

Some taxi drivers refused to take the commuters any further due to the blocked roads, rendering them stuck on the main artery in Dubai.

Commuters were seen walking across the road through giant puddles, trying to find alternative methods of transportation. Some of those stuck had travelled from abroad to Dubai to attend the World Blockchain Summit, a crypto conference scheduled for early next week.

Airport operations disrupted

Shocking video showed the tarmac of Dubai International Airport – recently crowned thesecond-busiest airport in the world– underwater asmassive aircraft attempt to navigate floodwaters. Large jets looked more like boats moving through the flooded airport as water sprayed in their wake and waves rippled through the deep water.

Disruption to airport operations continued into Wednesday, after the storm had cleared, with access roads blocked by flooding and multiple airlines including flag carrier Emirates reporting flight delays. Budget airline Flydubai canceled all flights until 10 a.m. local time Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, Dubai International advised people to “NOT to come to the airport, unless absolutely necessary,” saying flights continue to be delayed and diverted.

Emirates suspended check-in for passengers departing Dubai from 8 a.m. local time on Wednesday until midnight on Thursday due to “operational challengers caused by bad weather and road conditions.”

Chaos in Dubai as UAE records heaviest rainfall in 75 years | CNN (3)

Passengers queue at a flight connection desk at the Dubai International Airport in Dubai on Wednesday.

Some 134 million passengers flew through the UAE’s airports last year, including 87 million traveling through Dubai International Airport alone. The UAE is home to approximately 10 million people. The UAE is a hub for five airlines.

Video shared on social media showed furniture flying off balconies. In the Dubai Marina, a manmade canal lined with skyscrapers and retail outlets, furniture from nearby restaurants could be seen washed away by strong currents.

Images published in local media showed traffic gridlocked on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road, a 16-lane thoroughfare. Luxury cars were seen almost entirely submerged in the Business Bay district that is home to apartment buildings, offices and retail outlets. A Dubai Metro station was flooded with commuters having to wade through ankle-deep water.

Chaos in Dubai as UAE records heaviest rainfall in 75 years | CNN (4)

People wade through a submerged street under a bridge after heavy rain in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.

Delivery services stopped functioning and many Dubai residents were unable to leave their homes due to waterlogged streets, which cars and pedestrians couldn’t access. Some residents were seen rowing canoes outside their homes, and one viral video on social media showed residents wake boarding on a flooded street in a residential area.

Other videos from social media showed water rushing through a major shopping mall and inundating the ground floor of homes.

Madiha Khawaja, a tourist visiting from London with her husband and two children, aged two and four, said she felt “helpless” trying to calm her children amid the chaos.

The rain had disrupted building lifts, including in some of Dubai’s tallest skyscrapers. Khawaja said she spent 45 minutes taking the stairs to her 27th floor apartment in the heart of Dubai to find rest and shelter for her toddlers.

The journey was “grueling,” she said, adding that “upon reaching our apartment with hungry and tired kids, we were met with dry taps, no drinking water, no telephone service, no WiFi connection.”

“The kids were hungry, and I as a mother was getting very anxious and upset,” she told CNN.

An official at the UAE’s National Center of Meteorology was cited by local newspaper The National as saying that the rain was not caused by cloud seeding, putting to rest rumors that the chaos was man-made. CNN has reached out to the center for comment.

The practice is meant to enhance rainfall in arid or semi-arid regions and entails the “seeding” of existing clouds with substances that eventually help the clouds induce rain. The UAE has been cloud-seeding since the 1990s and has been doing it regularly over the past few years.

Like the rest of the Persian Gulf region, Dubai has a hot and dry climate. As such, rainfall is infrequent, and the city’s infrastructure often fails to handle extreme weather events.

CNN’s Abbas Al Lawati, Teele Rebane, Kathleen Magramo, Mostafa Salem, Sophie Tanno and team Eleni Giokos contributed reporting.

Chaos in Dubai as UAE records heaviest rainfall in 75 years | CNN (2024)


Chaos in Dubai as UAE records heaviest rainfall in 75 years | CNN? ›

The United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is part, saw the heaviest rainfall in at least 75 years, with more than a year's worth of precipitation in 24 hours. Life for many in the glitzy tourism and financial hub came to a near halt.

What is the highest rainfall recorded in UAE? ›

The centre said that so far, the highest rainfall was recorded in the "Khatm Al Shakla" area in Al Ain, reaching 254 mm in less than 24 hrs. It is noteworthy that the NCM's Shuwaib station had recorded 287.6 mm on 2016/3/9.

Why is it raining so much in Dubai? ›

Scientists and weather forecasters attribute the storm to a large amount of moisture rising from warming seas to the atmosphere, before falling as rain over to the Arabian Peninsula. El Niño, the climate phenomenon that makes seas warmer and alters weather patterns globally, may have affected the storm.

How long did it rain in Dubai? ›

By the end of Tuesday, more than 142 millimeters (5.59 inches) of rainfall had soaked Dubai over 24 hours.

What is the highest recorded weather in Dubai? ›

Temperatures regularly rise above 38 °C (100 °F) during this period and fall to around 26 °C (79 °F) overnight. The highest temperature recorded in Dubai is 49.0 °C (120 °F), reached in July 2023.

What is the highest rainfall recorded in the world? ›

Mawsynram, a village in the Indian state of Meghalaya, which receives an average annual rainfall of 11,871 mm (467.4 in). Mawsynram holds the Guinness World Record for the highest annual rainfall ever recorded in a calendar year (26,471 mm or 1,042.2 in in 1985).

Why is there no humidity in Dubai? ›

Dubai is humid because its near to Sea and dry because of very little rain and desert near to it making it unique in world. Its not as humid as far eastern countries because they have more rain and forests.

Did cloud seeding cause the flooding in Dubai? ›

Speculation was rife on social media, linking cloud seeding, which involves the manipulation of existing clouds to induce rain, to the unprecedented precipitation. But experts say the record rainfall was likely caused by climate change.

Is Dubai cloud seeding? ›

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The National Center of Meteorology, a government taskforce responsible for cloud seeding missions in the United Arab Emirates, denied reports that it carried out the weather modification technique in the run-up to heavy storms across the country, therefore exacerbating flooding in places ...

Why is water yellow in Dubai? ›

Rust, sediment, and other contaminants can accumulate inside the tank over time, leading to brown, yellow, or green water. In some cases, the discoloration may be due to the pipes rather than the tank itself. However, it's always best to have a professional assess the situation to determine the source of the problem.

Where did Dubai get all the water? ›

In Dubai, the Jebel Ali Power and Desalination Complex — the largest facility of its kind in the world — pipes water from the sea, sending it through a series of treatment phases, then to the city as drinkable water.

Why is Dubai so rich? ›

The UAE is the third-richest country in the world, below Luxembourg at number two and Qatar at number one, with a GDP per capita of $57,744. The bulk of its money comes from the production of goods and provision of services related to petroleum, petrochemicals, aluminium and cement.

Has it ever snowed in Dubai? ›

While it's extremely rare, Dubai experienced a brief snowfall on February 3, 2004. However, the snow didn't accumulate on the ground, and it melted quickly. Snowfall is an extremely uncommon occurrence in the desert climate of Dubai.

Does it rain heavy in Dubai? ›

Heavy rain there is rare, but not unheard-of.

On average, the Arabian Peninsula receives a scant few inches of rain a year, although scientists have found that a sizable chunk of that precipitation falls in infrequent but severe bursts, not as periodic showers.

How did Dubai make it rain? ›

United Arab Emirates authorities will often even try to make it rain—as they did earlier this week when the National Center of Meteorology dispatched planes to inject chemicals into the clouds to try to coax some showering.

What is the rainfall rate in UAE? ›

The country averages between 140 – 200 mm of rainfall per year, with some mountainous areas experiencing up to 350 mm/year. The UAE is also prone to occasional, violent dust storms, locally known as shamal winds.

Does it rain often in UAE? ›

Heavy rains are unusual in the UAE, which is an arid, Arabian Peninsula country. However, they occasionally occur in the region during cooler winter months.

Which area has the highest rainfall? ›

Mawsynram in Meghalaya receives the worlds highest rainfall. Earlier, Cherrapunji used to receive the highest rainfall in the world but now Mawsynram receives it.

What place has the highest rainfall? ›

Mawsynram, India

Located in Meghalaya's East Khasi Hills district, Mawsynram is celebrated as the wettest place on Earth, receiving so much rain that its average annual rainfall reaches a staggering 11,871 millimeters.


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