Authorities draw up emergency response plans for heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast till Monday
Residents feed seagulls at Al Khan beach in Sharjah, during the breezy weather. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News
Dubai: The UAE is stepping up emergency response plans and resources in the wake of a weather alert warning of cooler, wet conditions that could pose a risk to those caught out in rolling thunderstorms and rain.
Government, police and emergency agencies said they are preparing for potential flooding from a storm system forecast to pass through the UAE this weekend.
Rashid Suwaidan Al Katbi, chairman of the Emergency and Crisis Committee, held a meeting with municipal officials and representatives of relevant authorities on Wednesday to set up a storm response plan.
The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) said the system is expected will bring convective clouds, unstable weather, scattered rain and thunderstorms possibly by late Friday or early Saturday. Temperatures are also expected to drop by several degrees.
A low pressure, mixing with cool air swooping down from the north, will affect the northern parts of the country, especially mountainous areas where rainfall runoff has historically deluged valleys below.
A national weather forecaster told Gulf News on Thursday that residents should be prepared and aware of their surroundings amid reduced visibility making driving difficult in some harder-hit areas.
“Just to be safe, people should stay away from the valleys, don’t use their phones during thunderstorms and be aware of falling trees. There will be blowing sand as well,” said the forecaster.
Dubai Police urged motorists on Thursday to keep a safe distance between cars when driving in rainy weather and low visibility.
“Motorists should always keep a safe distance between cars and adjust their speed to the weather conditions. Allow extra time for your journey and check your planned route. It’s also advisable to slow down as rain makes roads slippery,” said Brigadier Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, director of the Traffic Department in Dubai Police.
He urged drivers to use the Dubai Police smart app to report minor accidents.
Brig Al Mazroui warned drivers against performing any stunts during unstable weather noting that cameras and police officers will be watching.
Abu Dhabi Police said on Thursday they have geared up operations rooms including Al Ain and Al Gharbia to better handle any emergencies.
Brigadier Khalifa Mohammad Al Khaili, director of traffic patrol of Abu Dhabi Police, asked drivers to follow traffic rules, drive slow, avoid tailgating, leave sufficient distance between vehicles and avoid sudden turns.
In case of vehicle breakdown and accidents, he asked motorists to park their vehicles in a safe area and do not block vehicular movement because leaving damaged vehicles on the road poses big dangers to other motorists.
Organisers of The Weekends at the Oasis Programme in Al Ain said they have postponed their activities until later this month.
Sharjah authorities warned people to stay away from mountains, valleys and pools of water that may form in heavy rainfall.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sami Al Naqbi, director-general of Sharjah Civil Defence, told Gulf News that they have chalked out a master plan with the police and municipality and they are ready for any emergency cases.
“Our personnel and equipment are ready for any emergency case,” he said, adding residents should stay home and check weather updates throughout the weekend.
Thabit Al Turaifi, director-general of Sharjah Municipality, said that all sections of the municipality have worked together to develop an integrated plan to deal with water logging and ensuring smooth traffic flow during the rain.
“The municipality is making great efforts to achieve the highest level of safety and comfort to the public as well as maintaining the aesthetic image of the emirate. It has recently cleaned the openings of rainwater drainage throughout the city. It has also completed the necessary maintenance of equipment to deal with water accumulation.”
Police in Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah said they will intensify patrolling during the expected weekend rain.
Friday: Heavy cloud cover will increase with scattered rains possibly later in the day.
Saturday: Thunderstorms and heavy rain will intensify reducing visibility.
Sunday: Heavy rain is expected to continue in some areas of the UAE.
Monday: The system is expected to move out of the country.
Source: National Centre of Meteorology (NCM)