Heavy rains cause chaos in central, eastern regions

RIYADH/DAMMAM: Continuous downpour from the early hours of the morning on Tuesday in the central and the eastern regions caused traffic snarls but no serious accidents.Mohammad Al-Qahtani, an official from the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment Protection (PME) in Dammam, said that the rains would continue over the next 24 hours. “These rains are good for the region,” he said. “They are a welcome relief, especially since they have come at almost the end of the winter season.”Another PME official from Riyadh described weather conditions as “unstable” due to low pressure in the Eastern Mediterranean.He said winds were blowing at 15 to 38 km per hour from the northwest toward the west in the Red Sea, while in the Arabian Gulf they have been blowing northeasterly at 10 to 30 km per hour.”Rainy clouds with thunder will continue over the Asir and Jazan highlands through the Eastern province, passing through central part of the Kingdom,” he said, indicating that there is a chance of fog in these regions.

The northern border area, including Arar, Rafha, Hafr Al-Batain and Algiosamah in the northeast, would also experience heavy rains with thunder, he added.An official from the Riyadh Traffic Department said there were no major accidents reported due to Tuesday’s rains.”Our officials took positions in all strategic places to warn motorists to slow down because of the weather,” he said.”Since the PME has warned us of further rains, we will be ready,” he stressed. The Saher traffic system also contributed a great deal to reducing traffic accidents, he added.Officials from the Saudi Red Crescent (SRC) were on high alert on the highway to help anyone affected by road accidents.The government schools were not affected by rains since most of the students remained at home preparing for their semester examinations. However, an official from the Ministry of Education’s foreign education department instructed all international schools in the capital to exercise discretion and consider closing down temporarily based on the weather.In the Eastern Province, it rained throughout the day sending the Mercury below 10 degrees Celsius. The sun remained hidden behind dark clouds throughout the day.Motorists had their hazard lights on and traffic on the Dammam-Alkhobar Highway moved at a snail’s pace during the morning rush hours. At many mosques in the region, Maghreb and Isha prayers were combined in view of the extremely cold weather.

The International Indian School in Riyadh requested its students from grades one to eight not to attend school on Wednesday. Others including Al-Huda, Yasmin, Yara and Al-Alia international schools, will be closed on Wednesday.International Bangladesh School principal Mohammed Shaheed Mohammed Hussein said that he requested all his students to remain at home if the weather was going to be bad on Wednesday.The traffic congestion in the city due to rains caused much inconvenience to motorists.Electrician Abdul Gafoor said it took him two hours to reach the city center from the second industrial area, a journey which otherwise would have taken only 20 minutes.Teacher Azra Hilmy said that her journey from her school in Olaya to her home in Malaz took more than one hour instead of the regular 10 minutes.“The rains have brought pleasant tidings for the spring,” an official from the Wildlife Conservation and Development ( NCWCD) told Arab News.Welcoming the rains, he said the heavy downpour is ideal for plants. “The rains will make a conducive environment for wildlife and plants. We can also expect a higher percentage during the next breeding season in the spring. The wetness will freshen the vegetation and grasslands in the Central province.”

He added that the people would see the blossoming of desert flowers and plants getting a new fillip after the rains. Following the rains, he warned city dwellers who go to the green areas in the suburbs on picnics not to spoil the plants and the green grass along the water courses as these places form ideal habitats for local and migratory birds.On a directive from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, rain prayers were conducted Monday morning throughout the Kingdom in line with the Prophet’s traditions to perform “istisqa” prayers in case of drought or delay in rainfall.“Istisqa” prayers were also performed at universities and schools in various provinces of the Kingdom.Istisqa prayer at the Grand Mosque was attended by Undersecretary of Makkah Province Abdulaziz Al-Khudhairi.The prayer was led by Sheikh Osama bin Abdullah Khayyat, who urged Muslims to adhere to the Holy Qur’an and Prophet’s Sunnah, calling on them to pray to Allah for forgiveness, repentance and the rainfall.In Madinah, Undersecretary of the province Suleiman Al-Juraish attended the prayer at the Prophet’s Mosque.The prayer was led by Sheikh Salah Al-Budair. He called on Muslims in his sermon to repent their misdeeds and to beseech Allah for rainfall – Arabnews