Saudi floods, Qatar squashes tsunami talk after 'tornado' video

Severe weather has affected life in most GCC countries

It is weather the Middle East is not used to – at least not at this time of the year and not with such intensity.

From Saudi Arabia to Kuwait and Qatar, heavy rain has caught residents unawares.

Click to see gallery of Rain in Saudi: Snapshot of life

However, given the global nature of natural disasters currently – Typhoon Haiyan the latest trigger – social media networks have been buzzing with all sorts of crazy weather videos and rumours.

From a tornado-like water spout off Qatar, to rods of fierce lightning in Saudi, netizens will awake this morning to find the word ‘tsunami’ and ‘Gulf’ in the same sentence.

While weather bureaux across the Middle East have not lent such drastic weather any credence yet, the fact is, lives have been lost and warnings have been issued.

Saudi Arabia

Rare heavy downpours triggered flash floods in the Saudi capital on Sunday forcing schools and universities to close and prompting calls by the authorities for citizens to remain indoors.

At least three people were reported missing, the state news agency SPA said quoting civil defence spokesman Colonel Abdullah Al Harithi.

He added that authorities assisted dozens of people trapped by the floods, a rare phenomenon to hit the capital of the desert kingdom.

Heavy rains, accompanied by thunderstorms, have lashed Riyadh since late Saturday triggering flash floods in several districts and cutting off power in the city's north, according to residents.

Harithi urged Riyadh citizens, estimated at more than five million people, to stay away from rivers, valleys and flooded tunnels while the education ministry ordered schools and university closed Sunday.

Saudi Arabia, like other desert countries, rarely sees heavy rainfall and religious leaders often organise prayers for rain.



Famous Saudi tower hit by lightning

Lightning struck one of Saudi Arabia’s most famous high-rise towers during bad weather conditions that hit the Gulf Kingdom this week.

A brief YouTube film published on local news websites showed the Kingdom Tower in the capital Riyadh was illuminated briefly as it was struck by the thunderbolt.

Newspapers said the bolt caused no damage as the Tower is equipped with anti-lightning systems. 

Qatar

A rare water-tornado appears to have struck offshore areas in the Gulf state of Qatar but there were no reports of any damage or casualties.

A 7-second YouTube film, which could not be verified, showed the hurricane out at sea in the Ras Laffan area between Qatar and Iran.

Ras Laffan houses the world’s largest gas reservoir, the North Field, which contains nearly 25 trillion cubic metres of non-associated natural gas.

The Meteorology Department in Qatar has moved quickly to squash any rumpurs of flooding and storms.

The Peninsula newspaper quoted a met official as squashing rumours on social networking sites about a circular attributed to US Navy in Bahrain, about heavy flooding and a possible tsunami in the region.

“Anyone who wants to get the weather forecast for Qatar should look at the official information that is provided by the Meteorology Department at qweather.gov.qa,” he was quoted as saying.
 


Kuwait

Media reports from Kuwait quoted a meteorologist at the Public Authority of Civil Aviation as saying instability in weather conditions is epected to continue for a few days.

Rains lashed the country over the weekend and wind speeds were close to 100km per hour, reducing visibility.

For latest reports on rain in the UAE click here

 

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