Abu Dhabi- Schools were ordered shut, flights suspended and the stock market was closed down in the UAE as rare heavy rain hit the desert Gulf state.
“Unstable” weather conditions are expected to continue until Thursday evening, forecasters say, predicting thunderstorms and rainfall as authorities warn residents to avoid flood-prone areas.
Rainfall of different intensities is expected in many areas, and could lead to flooding in valleys near the highlands in the country’s eastern and northern regions, the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology said.
The amount of clouds is expected to increase and thunder is predicted, particularly in the north and east. Cloud cover is expected to decrease on Thursday night and Friday morning, with a chance of foggy weather, especially in interior areas, the center added.
It added that the wind would be moderate to brisk, and the Arab Gulf and the Arabian Sea would be sometimes rough.
The center revealed that the highest rain recorded in Al Shuaib area reached 240 cubic millimeters, and the highest wind speed recorded at Bateen Airport until 11am on Wednesday reached 126 km per hour.
Public and private schools in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi will remain closed again on Thursday due to the weather, the Director-General of Abu Dhabi Education Council, Dr Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi announced.
The storm, which contained strong winds, frequent lightning and even some hail, caused all flights to be suspended Wednesday at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Wind gusts reached hurricane strength, 120 kilometers per hour, at nearby Al Bateen Executive Airport, where the Abu Dhabi Air Expo was taking place. It had to be evacuated after reports that tents had been blown down.
In addition to travel chaos, schools and businesses were closed, and many were to be closed again Thursday as weather conditions were expected to remain unsettled.
Several events were cancelled or suspended for the day, including Abu Dhabi Expo 2016 and Dubai Canvas festival activities.
Abu Dhabi’s stock market said it suspended trading and cancelled all morning deals after many traders could not reach the bourse.