Cloud bursts, thunderstorm disrupt life in eastern cities

Chaotic traffic in front of the International Indian School in Dammam following the rain Sunday morning.

Saudi Gazette

— The Eastern Province experienced the worst kind of cloud burst in the wee hours of Sunday accompanied by heavy thunderstorm. Heavy showers continued until noon disrupting normal life in the region and causing several accidents and water logging not only in low lying areas but elsewhere as well.

The heavy rain caused immense confusion and hardship to students of several national and international schools. Surprisingly the Civil Defense has been issuing regular warnings but it appears that despite early morning rain the schools took the warning lightly and decided to carry on with classes. But by 11 a.m. when the school managements saw the intensity of rain and heavy deluge along with thunderstorm, most of them declared it a rainy day and sent text messages to parents to pick up their children. Those using school transport were ferried to their homes.

Traffic around most of the schools was chaotic with visibly frustrated parents held up in the traffic for several hours.

King Fahd Road leading to the King Fahd International Airport and connecting Dammam with Al-Khobar was the worst affected road with more than 2 km of traffic hold-up.

Traffic police had a tough time in clearing the roads. The weather department said it was the highest recorded rainfall in recent times.

Since last evening clouds had been building over the skies of the region. The General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection along with the Civil Defense has been warning of heavy rainfall in several parts of the Kingdom including the Eastern Province.

A few minutes before the morning prayers, the skies broke open accompanied by heavy thunder that reverberated the cities of Dammam, Al-Khobar, Jubail, Qatif, Sihat and Al-Ahsa.

Normal life was disrupted as the rain continued to the office timings as well as school schedules. There were no flight cancellations though some domestic flights were reported “delayed” and a few airlines made minor adjustments in their departure schedules as the runway was flooded. However, the runway was cleared for takeoff in a matter of minutes.

Attendance at offices were extremely low as most of the office goers have to take half day off to pick up their children from school.

Dammam Industrial City II witnessed serious water logging at several entry points to the complex. Pumps were seen draining clogged water.

The weather department has predicted more rains in coming days. There are chances of shower with thunder in the late hours of Sunday.

Winter is expected to arrive early in the region and mercury is expected to touch a record low.

Business in Dammam, Al-Khobar, Jubail and Ahsa went slow as people decided to stay home. Most of the shopping malls, restaurants and fast food joints wore a deserted look.

There was a little decline in the number of shoppers in prominent shopping malls in Dammam, Al-Khobar, Jubail and Qatif as many people preferred to remain indoors.

There were no reports of any major accident. But the Civil Defense and the Traffic Department reported a few minor cases due to lightning and some vehicle damages.

As the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection predicted more rains in the coming days with chances of heavy thunderstorms, the municipal authorities say they are in full preparedness to face any untoward situation.