Dubai: What meteorologists say about the causes of the "bad weather of the century"

What meteorologists say about the causes of the 'storm of the century' and the cloud seeding theory


Last June, the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, approved a $21,8 billion fund to expand and redesign the drainage system. In January, a new flood management agency was established in the city. The rain, the heaviest in 75 years, which turned the city of Dubai into a vast lagoon, overtook the plans.


Now, as the waters recede, they are revealing the extent of the devastation from the historic storm that killed 19 in neighboring Oman and at least one in Dubai. It's not just the images of chaos at Dubai airport - which is also the busiest on the planet - with travelers crammed onto the floors to sleep. Not even the ultra-luxurious supercars that were buried under tons of water. They are roads whose pavements gave way from the passage of water (even the famous 12-lane Sheikh Zayed Boulevard was flooded, causing a traffic jam of hours in its "dry" parts), houses that were flooded and are no longer habitable. Even in the skyscrapers, the residents were forced to climb dozens of floors with the stairs - as the elevators in the basements were flooded - to find that their apartment had no water supply, electricity, telephone, Internet connection. And while in some neighborhoods they moved with inflatables or even surfboards, a part of the city's Metro was also damaged.

Local authorities do not yet have information available on the total amount of damage caused. After all, tankers are still pumping the water and mud from the most affected areas.

More, after all, the debate in Dubai is whether the "bombardment" of the clouds with salt, a technique called "cloud seeding", is responsible for the historic storm. In the United Arab Emirates, this technique has been used since the 90s to deal with anomia as in many cases they can cause precipitation. In this particular case, however, in response to rumors that a Dubai National Meteorological Center aircraft that flew on Sunday caused the disaster, meteorologists at the center are denying any connection. And they say it would be impossible to cause such a deluge.


What scientists are saying is that the increasingly hot temperatures of Dubai and, of course, the wider region, have contributed to the historic bad weather and will do so more often in the future. As they explain, warm air can hold more moisture (about 7% for each additional degree Celsius) which can increase the intensity of precipitation.

In the case of Dubai, the problem is not only the inadequate drainage system – as several streets do not even have drains and rainwater ends up in the houses, or stagnates in them. It is also the fact that the city of Dubai has few green spaces to absorb some of the moisture. Experts say the city must adapt to the new conditions and adapt its infrastructure to protect it from the new reality that climate change brings: In addition to long periods of drought and heat – something normal for the desert in which is built - to be ready for heavy rains, capable of causing flooding phenomena. Because this was the "bad weather of the century", the worst that Dubai has seen since 1949, when weather records are kept, but probably not the last of this intensity that it will experience in the coming years...