Dubai flights canceled, schools and offices shut as rain pelts UAE just weeks after deadly floods

Emirates was forced to cancel and delay several flights in and out of Dubai, the second-busiest international airport in the world, while people and students were instructed to work and study from home, as heavy rains returned to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.

The storm comes just two weeks after record-setting rainfall triggered damaging floods in several parts of the country and neighboring Oman, which killed at least four people in the UAE and ground the bustling city of Dubai to a halt.

The floods also killed at least 19 others in Oman, including 10 children whose school bus was swept away in the deluge.

A driver navigates a flooded road following a rainstorm in Dubai on May 2, 2024. REUTERS/Rula Rouhana - Rula Rouhana/Reuters
A driver navigates a flooded road following a rainstorm in Dubai on May 2, 2024. REUTERS/Rula Rouhana - Rula Rouhana/Reuters

Video images from the coastal UAE city of Ras Al-Khaimah, shared with CNN, showed palm trees bending in strong winds on Thursday as heavy rains lashed roads and lightning illuminated the sky.

The rainfall was not as heavy as the event two weeks ago, but Dubai experienced 20 millimeters in 12 hours, more than twice what it usually receives over the months of April and May combined. Abu Dhabi saw 34 mm in 24 hours, more than four times what it would usually see over April and May.

Residents appeared better prepared this time. A CNN journalist in Dubai saw workmen opening drains on the streets a day ahead of the rainfall and emergency notifications were sent widely to mobile phones in the city, warning them to stay home where possible.

Authorities ordered remote working and studying in affected areas on Thursday and Friday. Roads to valley areas prone to flooding were closed off, while people were asked to stay away from mountainous, desert and sea areas.

Scientists linked the record rainfall that hit the UAE and Oman two weeks ago to climate change. A team of 21 scientists and researchers, under the World Weather Attribution initiative, found that climate change was making extreme rainfall events in the two countries — which typically fall during El Niño years — between 10 and 40% more intense than they would have been without global warming.

Over a period of less than 24 hours during that event, the UAE experienced its heaviest rainfall in since records began 75 years ago. Dubai experienced the equivalent of more than a year and a half’s worth of rain in that time.

CNN’s Brandon Miller contributed to this report.

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