Flash floods disrupt daily life in Saudi Arabia: Schools shut down, roads submerged

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Flash floods sweep through Saudi Arabia: Schools shut down, residents grapple with submerged streets.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, May 1: Saudi Arabian authorities took action on Wednesday in response to flash floods that inundated roads, leading to the closure of schools in several regions. The desert Gulf experienced yet another disruption to daily life due to heavy rains.

Footage from AFPTV depicted cars partially submerged in water as they struggled to navigate through flooded streets in the central region of Qassim, one of the areas hardest hit overnight.

Mohammed, a resident of Buraidah, the capital of Qassim, described the relentless downpour that lasted for seven hours, beginning in the afternoon and continuing until near midnight. He recounted how water levels rose to over 10 centimeters (four inches) in front of his residence, making it impossible to venture out onto the streets amidst the intense thunder and lightning.

The National Meteorological Center issued red alerts for Qassim and other regions, including the eastern province on the Gulf, the capital Riyadh, and the Medina province bordering the Red Sea. The alerts warned of heavy rain accompanied by strong winds, reduced visibility, hail, torrential downpours, and thunderstorms.

As a precautionary measure, schools in the Eastern Province and Riyadh suspended in-person classes and shifted to online learning. In Medina, educational authorities shared images of maintenance workers repairing electrical and air-conditioning units while also draining standing water from school premises.

While some standing water was observed on Riyadh’s roads, traffic disruptions were minimal. However, rainstorms and flooding are not uncommon in Saudi Arabia, particularly during the winter months, and larger cities often face challenges with drainage systems.

Jeddah, a port city on the Red Sea coast, has grappled with infrastructure issues for years, leading to annual flooding incidents. In 2009, floods claimed the lives of 123 people in the city, with additional casualties occurring in subsequent years.

The recent heavy rainfall in Saudi Arabia follows intense rains that struck the region in mid-April, resulting in the loss of 21 lives in Oman. A group of expert scientists attributed the severity of these rains to global warming caused by fossil fuel emissions, underscoring the urgent need for climate action.

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