Storms dumped record rainfall in the United Arab Emirates • Earth.com

Storms dumped record rainfall in the United Arab Emirates

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the United Arab Emirates, where a slow-moving storm system dumped more than a year’s worth of rainfall in just a few hours. 

“The UAE’s National Center for Meteorology reported that eastern parts of the country measured up to 250 millimeters (10 inches) of rain in less than 24 hours. UAE, known for its dry desert climate, receives only about 140 to 200 millimeters (5.5 to 8 inches) of rainfall per year,” said NASA.

“Dubai International Airport recorded 119 millimeters on April 16, which is 1.5 times its typical annual rainfall. The deluge temporarily halted flights at the airport, which is among the world’s busiest for international travel.”

Heaviest rainfall on record in the United Arab Emirates 

Authorities noted that this was the heaviest rainfall on record in the United Arab Emirates. The news agency WAM called it a historic weather event that surpassed “anything documented since the start of data collection in 1949.” 

“Heavy rain triggered flash flooding across eastern parts of the country, inundating roads and disrupting transportation,” said NASA. “The system first hit Oman on April 14 and continued to batter the UAE through most of the day on April 16.” 

At least 18 people were killed in the heavy rains in Oman, including ten children that were swept away in a vehicle with one adult, according to a statement from the country’s National Committee for Emergency Management. 

Strong low-pressure system

Michael Mann, a climate scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, noted that three low-pressure systems formed a train of storms slowly moving along the jet stream – the river of air that moves weather systems – toward the Persian Gulf. 

“The strong low-pressure system delivered multiple rounds of high winds and heavy rain to the northern and eastern parts of the country,” said NASA. “Some areas remained flooded on April 19, when Landsat 9 passed over the region for the first time since the storms.” 

Climate experts attribute such extreme weather events to global warming. According to a report from Reuters, researchers anticipate that climate change will lead to hotter temperatures, increased humidity, and a greater risk of flooding in parts of the Gulf region. “Countries like the UAE where there is a lack of drainage infrastructure to cope with heavy rains can suffer the most,” the report stated. 

More about the United Arab Emirates 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates located on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders Oman and Saudi Arabia, and has maritime borders with Iran and Qatar in the Persian Gulf. Established as a federation in 1971, the UAE has rapidly developed into one of the most modern and wealthy nations in the world, largely thanks to its vast oil and natural gas reserves.

Abu Dhabi serves as the capital and is the largest emirate, both in terms of land area and economy, largely because it holds the majority of the UAE’s oil reserves. Dubai is the most populous city and is renowned globally for its spectacular skyscrapers, including the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, as well as its bustling ports, and vibrant tourism and shopping sectors.

The UAE has a diverse and multicultural society with a significant expatriate population, drawn by business opportunities and the tax-free living in many sectors. The official language is Arabic, though English is widely spoken, especially in business and educational settings.

Politically, the UAE is a federal absolute monarchy. It is governed by a Supreme Council of Rulers made up of the seven emirs, who appoint the prime minister and the cabinet. The country has made significant strides in terms of infrastructure and healthcare, and it continues to invest heavily in various sectors including renewable energy, education, and technology.

Culturally, the UAE balances its rapid modernization with a strong commitment to traditional Arab culture. The heritage of the desert Bedouin lifestyle is celebrated with falconry, camel racing, and traditional dance remaining integral to its cultural festivities. The nation is also a major hub for international arts and sports events, enhancing its global profile and cultural footprint.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

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