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A year’s worth of rain unleashed huge flash floods in Dubai on Tuesday, turning roads into rivers and flooding homes and businesses in the normally dry city.

Shocking video showed the tarmac of Dubai International Airport, recently voted the world’s second-busiest airport, submerged as large aircraft attempted to navigate flooding. Large aircraft moved through the flooded airport like boats, spraying water in their wake and causing waves to vibrate in the deep water.

Airport operations remained disrupted on Wednesday, with access roads obstructed by flooding and many airlines, including flag carrier Emirates, reported flight delays. Flydubai, a budget airline, cancelled all flights until 10AM local time on Wednesday.

One stranded passenger told CNN he spent the night at the airport with hundreds of others after flying in from Hong Kong late Tuesday because there were no transport options out of the terminal.


“The airport is literally filling up and there’s nowhere for anyone to go.”

Nearly 100 millimetres of rain fell in just 12 hours on Tuesday – according to weather observations at the airport. This is 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.

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

Like the rest of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has a hot and dry climate. As such, rainfall is infrequent and in many areas, there is limited infrastructure such as drainage to handle extreme events.

The rain that plunged Dubai underwater is 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.

Bloomberg also notes that the heavy rains causing widespread flooding across the desert nation stemmed partly from the UAE’s cloud seeding operations, which were started in 2002 to address water security issues.

The Gulf state’s National Center of Meteorology dispatched seeding planes from Al Ain airport on Monday and Tuesday to take advantage of convective cloud formations, according to Ahmed Habib, a specialist meteorologist.

That technique involves implanting chemicals and tiny particles – often natural salts such as potassium chloride – into the atmosphere to coax more rain from clouds.

Habib said the seeding planes have flown seven missions over the past two days, with Dubai’s media office dubbed the downpours “rains of goodness,” despite flooded houses and overflowing swimming pools.

—Source: CNN 

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