The UAE carried out 27 cloud-seeding missions within five days, resulting in increased rainfall in the country last week.

According to authorities from the country's meteorological department, the recorded rainfall from last week is equivalent to the rain received by the UAE three decades ago.

The country was flooded last week after sudden clouds poured heavily, with employees being asked to work from home and schools switching to remote learning.

In an interview with Khaleej Times, a senior official emphasised the crucial role of cloud seeding in enhancing rainfall, despite an initial dry winter spell.

Dr Ahmed Habib a climate expert from the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) said, “We conducted 27 cloud seeding operations between February 11 to 15, targeting clouds with favourable conditions, characterised by strong updrafts and high humidity. These missions aimed to enhance rainfall in the country.”

“The eastern part of the country received 317mm of rainfall in 1988," he said, adding that this year, the Umm Al Ghaf station recorded a maximum of 224.1mm of rainfall.

The nation's efforts in cloud seeding result in a yearly minimum increase of 15 percent in rainfall. This leads to generating a usable water supply ranging from 84 to 419 million cubic meters through these seeding operations.

Dry winter

It’s worth noting, that a few months ago in December 2023, the UAE experienced lower amounts of rainfall, making it a drier winter compared to previous years during the same month.

Although the country had encountered precipitation, it was not as intense as the heavy rains witnessed in previous years. Officials from NCM had then highlighted that last December, the average rainfall had been less than in preceding years due to the system pressure influencing both surface and upper layers throughout the country.

Natural causes for rainfall

Explaining the natural causes apart from cloud-seeding operations that led to the recent heavy downpour, Habib elaborated that in the previous week, the region experienced the influence of a low-pressure system originating from the Arabian Sea.

He said, “This was accompanied by a humid air mass affecting the surface layer. Additionally, there was an extension of low pressure originating from the Middle East, moving from the Northwest, and associated with a cold air mass in the upper layer.”

This resulted in the development of convective clouds above the UAE, persisting for a span of two to three days. “The phenomenon initiated in the western part of the country and progressed gradually eastward. Given the presence of mountainous terrain in the east, more convective clouds formed, leading to substantial rainfall in that region. While the entire country felt the impact, the eastern region, including Fujairah, Kalba, and Al Ain areas, was particularly affected. Additionally, these areas encountered hailstorms Even Abu Dhabi experienced intense rainfall and thunderstorms,” added Habib.

Quick variations in weather

Shedding light on the weather patterns and temperature variations in the UAE during February and March, he said, “This type of weather is typical in this season. We are still in the winter season that lasts till March 21, with chances of rain again, after which the spring (season) commences. Before rainfall, there is usually a warm air mass that builds up. Recently the maximum temperature recorded was at 35 or 36 degrees Celsius.”

He pointed out that since Sunday, the region has particularly been influenced by a northwesterly wind originating from the north of Saudi Arabia. “This has been bringing in a cold air mass from the northwest. Consequently, there has been a decrease in temperature, ranging from seven to ten degrees in the western part and two to three degrees overall. However, such temperature fluctuations are normal during this period, characterised by alternating hot and cold waves.”

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