Debate Arises on Cloud Seeding in UAE Floods

April 18, 2024
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An SUV splashes through standing water on a road with the Burj Al Arab luxury hotel seen in the background in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Photo/Jon Gambrell)

As desert nation of UAE grapples with unprecedented rainfall, causing flooding that wreaks havoc on highways and Dubai’s airport, speculation regarding the potential role of cloud seeding abound. On Wednesday, efforts to recover commenced after the heaviest rain ever recorded inundated Dubai International Airport, disrupting flights at the world’s busiest airfield for international travel. According to the state-run WAM news agency, Tuesday’s rainfall marked “a historic weather event,” surpassing any records since data collection began in 1949. The downpour, also affecting Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, was particularly acute across the UAE.

Speculation arose regarding the possibility of cloud seeding contributing to the deluge, but meteorologists dismissed this notion, asserting that the storm systems responsible for the rain were forecasted well in advance. While cloud-seeding flights were conducted before the rains, experts emphasized that the flooding was primarily due to an unusually strong low-pressure system.

The flooding wreaked havoc, leaving stranded passengers and overwhelmed infrastructure in its wake. Dubai International Airport, acknowledging the severity of the situation, faced significant transportation challenges, with flights disrupted and crews unable to access the airfield.

Vehicles drive through heavy rain on the Sheikh Zayed Road highway in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. Heavy rains lashed the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, flooding out portions of major highways and leaving vehicles abandoned on roadways across Dubai. Meanwhile, the death toll in separate heavy flooding in neighboring Oman rose to 18 with others still missing as the sultanate prepared for the storm. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
Vehicles drive through heavy rain on the Sheikh Zayed Road highway in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

The aftermath of the storm saw widespread disruptions, with schools closed, government employees working remotely, and residents contending with flooded roads and homes. Tragically, fatalities were reported, including one in Ras al-Khaimah due to floodwaters.

As the UAE grapples with the aftermath of the deluge, neighboring Oman also faces devastation from heavy rains, with at least 19 reported fatalities.

The unprecedented rainfall underscores the vulnerability of the region to extreme weather events, highlighting the urgent need for adaptation and resilience measures in the face of climate change.