Record Rainfall in Dubai: A Crisis of Climate and Infrastructure

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Climate Crisis, Environmental News

Home » Environmental News » Record Rainfall in Dubai: A Crisis of Climate and Infrastructure

In an unprecedented weather event, Dubai, known for its arid climate, was overwhelmed by the heaviest rainfall in its history on April 16, 2024. The city, accustomed to scorching temperatures, received over 142 millimetres of rain in just 24 hours—surpassing its average annual rainfall. This record rainfall in Dubai has led to extensive flooding across the city, severely disrupting operations at Dubai International Airport which is a crucial global hub.

The National Center of Meteorology issued weather warnings, including orange alerts, indicating a serious risk due to the unstable weather conditions. The flooding has affected roads, trapped cars in standing water, and disrupted both local traffic and flights in the region. In just a few hours, Dubai received more rain than it usually gets in over a year.

Dubai Floods Due To Record Rainfall

The deluge commenced late on Monday, with meteorological data from Dubai International Airport recording around 20mm (0.79 inches) of rain. However, the intensity escalated sharply by April 16, with over 142mm (5.59 inches) of rainfall accumulating. This has surpassed the average annual precipitation of 94.7mm (3.73 inches).

Dubai Floods

The disaster highlights the stark realities of climate change, showcasing how even the most well-prepared cities can be vulnerable to extreme weather events. As Dubai and other parts of the UAE, which hosted last year’s COP28 UN climate conference, reel from the impacts, the floods in neighbouring Oman and Bahrain underscore the growing climate challenges in the region.

The impact of the heavy rain was felt beyond the UAE, with Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Oman also experiencing rainfall. Oman, in particular, suffered significant casualties, with reports of at least 18 fatalities, including school children swept away in floodwaters. This event underscores the urgent need for enhanced climate resilience strategies as such extreme weather events become increasingly frequent and severe.

Also Read: China To Experience Extreme Weather Events In 2024

What Caused The Extreme Weather Conditions In The UAE?

The unprecedented rainfall in Dubai and Oman, which resulted in severe flooding and casualties, was influenced by a larger storm system moving across the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf of Oman. This event has been linked to unusual weather patterns in nearby regions, including southeastern Iran. Experts like Friederike Otto attribute this extreme weather to human-induced climate change, noting that such intense rainfall events are exacerbated by global warming.

Additionally, the UAE’s use of cloud seeding, a technique initiated in 2002 to enhance rainfall through the dispersal of substances like potassium chloride into clouds, also played a role. According to meteorologist Ahmed Habib, multiple cloud seeding operations were conducted in the days leading up to the floods.

Neighbouring nations and international partners have extended their condolences and support to affected communities. The focus now remains on recovery and addressing the immediate and long-term implications of the Dubai floods.

This record rainfall in Dubai is a reminder for us of the pressing global climate crisis and the imperative for robust infrastructure and preparedness in the face of nature’s unpredictability.

Also Read: Climate Leadership Is Pushing Towards Catastrophe, Says Former Climate Chief

Impact On Airport Operations And The City

Record rainfall in Dubai caused significant disruptions across the city, including at Dubai International Airport—one of the world’s busiest hubs. The airport had to temporarily suspend arrivals due to flooded runways and access roads, affecting dozens of flights with destinations across India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom.

Operations were partially maintained with departure flights running, albeit with numerous delays and cancellations. Flydubai, among other airlines, suspended its flights until the following morning, as reported by the UAE state news agency WAM.

Passengers encountered chaos as floodwater covered surrounding roads, making access to the airport terminals difficult. Emirates, the prominent long-haul carrier based in Dubai, suspended check-in services for Dubai International Airport. It happened due to operational difficulties caused by the relentless rain.

The severe weather also impacted city infrastructure; notable flooding at flagship shopping centres like Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates and waterlogged Dubai Metro stations disrupted daily life and raised safety concerns. Emergency services and police navigated through flooded streets, with some vehicles becoming stranded.

This rare weather event has highlighted the vulnerability of even the most modern cities to extreme weather conditions, emphasizing the need for enhanced preparedness and resilience strategies to handle such unexpected crises.

The UAE government took precautionary measures, with schools closed ahead of the storm and many government employees working remotely. Despite efforts to pump away water using tanker trucks, numerous homes were flooded. This has necessitated evacuation and cleanup operations.

Also Read: Cold Weather Climate Change Patterns Over The Years



  • Sarah Tancredi

    Sarah Tancredi is an experienced journalist and news reporter specializing in environmental and climate crisis issues. With a deep passion for the planet and a commitment to raising awareness about pressing environmental challenges, Sarah has dedicated her career to informing the public and promoting sustainable solutions. She strives to inspire individuals, communities, and policymakers to take action to safeguard our planet for future generations.


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