Thunderstorm, heavy rain batter Eastern Province


Saudi Gazette

A thunderstorm accompanied by heavy rain once again hit the Eastern Province cities of Dammam, Al-Khobar, Dhahran, Qatif, Ahsa and Jubail disrupting day-to-day life and causing floods in several low-lying areas.

The rain and strong wind coincided with the end of classes at all schools causing utter confusion and chaos. Schoolchildren, drenched in rain, braved strong winds while waiting for their parents, who could have been held up in traffic jams caused by the rain, to pick them up.

Inclement weather continued in the Eastern Province since Friday when very light drizzle hit some parts of the region. Saturday saw overcast skies in the morning and later witnessed the first downpour of the season.

Weathermen admitted that it was bit unusual to rain around this time of the year. The weather department had predicted more rain on Sunday but it was a comparatively dry and sunny day, barring some very light drizzle in some areas.

Incidentally there was no warning of a thunderstorm for Monday from the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection though they have made forecasts for inclement weather in coming days. The schools in the Kingdom normally follow warnings of the authority and suspend classes.

As rain had disrupted normal life on Saturday, the municipal authorities have taken preventive measures to stop flooding, particularly in low-lying areas. Though many areas, particularly Dammam Industrial City II, Thuqba, Anood, Subaikha, Mazrouiya witnessed flooding for quite some time but water pumps installed at all vulnerable spots flushed out the floodwater.

The Dammam airport reported normal operations, barring a few time adjustments at the peak of the storm.

Similarly, Saudi Railways delayed the departure of its train to Riyadh by a few minutes to ensure clear tracks.

The city transport system faced quite a chaos and free-for-all near several schools’ entry points as rain coincided with the school timing. There were several car hits near Dammam-Khobar Highway, Jubail Highway and even within city limits. It was a tough time for the insurance service Najm to handle so many minor hits at different spots. The Traffic Department however succeeded in clearing all jams within minutes.

Although exact rainfall figure was not available the weather department›s observatory at King Fahd International Airport said it was quite heavy. At the peak of the storm, the wind speed was recorded at more than 60 kmph. Visibility was reduced to one kilometer during the storm. Commenting on the present weather situation, the authority said more rains are expected to lash the province and adjoining areas. Despite heavy rains there was no relief from humid conditions to the residents, though maximum temperature came down to 27 degrees Celsius.

The market is expected to witness a slowdown as the inclement weather will force residents to remain indoors.

The rain has stopped completely but heavy, dark clouds have turned day into night in the region. The coast guards have asked people to stay away from deep waters. They are continuously patrolling all the vantage points at Dammam and Al-Khobar seaside.