Record-Breaking Rainfall Causes Havoc in United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates grappled with the aftermath of record-breaking rainfall on Wednesday, as the desert nation sought to recover from severe flooding that disrupted operations at Dubai International Airport, one of the world’s busiest international air hubs.

According to the state-run WAM news agency, Tuesday’s rain was described as a “historic weather event” that exceeded any previously documented rainfall since data collection began in 1949, predating the discovery of crude oil in the region when it was known as the Trucial States under British protection.

While rainfall was also reported in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, the UAE experienced particularly intense downpours. One contributing factor may have been cloud seeding, a process involving government-operated aircraft dispersing special salt flares into clouds to stimulate precipitation.

Numerous reports cited meteorologists from the National Center for Meteorology who indicated that they conducted six or seven cloud-seeding flights before the heavy rains occurred. However, the center did not immediately address inquiries on Wednesday. Flight-tracking data analyzed by The Associated Press revealed that an aircraft linked to the UAE’s cloud-seeding operations was observed flying over the country on Sunday.

The UAE, which heavily relies on energy-intensive desalination plants for water supply, conducts cloud seeding to augment its depleted groundwater resources.

The heavy rainfall began late Monday, saturating the sands and roadways of Dubai with approximately 20 millimeters (0.79 inches) of rain, based on meteorological data from Dubai International Airport. The storms intensified around 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday and persisted throughout the day, bringing more rain and hail to the overwhelmed city.

By the end of Tuesday, Dubai had received over 142 millimeters (5.59 inches) of rainfall within 24 hours. In an average year, Dubai International Airport records about 94.7 millimeters (3.73 inches) of rainfall. Dubai is a major hub for Emirates, a long-haul carrier.

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