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01 December 2011

Extreme Weather in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, 30 November, 2011 at 04:04 (04:04 AM) UTC.

Image: Google Maps

A sustained daylong downpour in Riyadh on Tuesday accompanied by hailstorm and winds of up to 45 kilometers per hour caused flooding and severe traffic jams across the capital city. Schools were closed and a number of businesses were affected after moderate-to-heavy rains brought the Saudi capital to a standstill. People were shivering with cold as the mercury dipped down to 9 degrees Celsius Tuesday afternoon. "The temperature can go down further to 5 degrees Celsius later Tuesday night," warned Mansour Almazroui, director of the Center of Excellence for Climate Change Research at King Abdulaziz University, while predicting clear skies on Wednesday. Almazroui said Riyadh would gradually become sunny again, while the Kingdom's southeast regions will possibly experience rainfall in days to come. "It will also be a very cold winter in Saudi Arabia," he said. However, the rain in Riyadh did not disrupt or delay flights in Riyadh or any other regional airports in the province despite harsh weather conditions, Khalid Al-Khaibari, a spokesman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation, told Arab News on Tuesday night. Airport officials at Riyadh's King Khaled International Airport said several passengers missed their flights because of road conditions.

Some major traffic accidents were also reported from various parts of the city and its suburbs. "Two persons were admitted to a local hospital near Al-Kharj after a pick-up rammed into a truck because of poor visibility early today," said Shahid Karim, a driver. There was no immediate report of any deaths because of the accidents. The city recorded freezing temperatures, forcing a large number of people to remain indoors the whole day. Meteorological officials in the Kingdom gave early warnings that more rains and storms could be coming on Tuesday. Authorities also announced a state of emergency, and told residents not to use their vehicles unless essential. At least 55 schools were closed in Riyadh alone after the principals of these schools sent SMS messages to the parents late Monday night asking them not to send their children. Residents posted dramatic pictures and video of accidents, traffic jams and flooding online. Authorities said dozens of teams of municipal employees had been assigned to pump water from Riyadh's flooded streets if the rain continued on Tuesday night. Authorities have warned motorists to exercise extreme care when negotiating waterlogged roads. In the Eastern Province, it rained, but not heavily, throughout the day. The sun remained hidden behind dark clouds. The mercury dipped below 10 degrees Celsius in the evening. Government and private schools remained closed but for commercial establishments it was business as usual. Because of low visibility and overcast conditions, motorists had their hazard lights on and traffic on the Dammam-Alkhobar Highway moved at a snail’s pace throughout the day on Tuesday. According to a Presidency of Meteorology and Environment report, the rain was medium to heavy in Riyadh province, Qassim and the Eastern Province. Weather is expected to be clear with sunny skies on Wednesday.