Oman: torrential rain floods wadis, six people killed

    08 Jan 2022

    Severe weather fronts have hit the Gulf region over the new year. Flooding in Oman, triggered by heavy rainfall that began on New Year’s Eve, has killed six people and left several towns completely cut off, The National News reports.

    Oman TV reported on January 1 that a man was found dead in his vehicle after he tried to cross a wadi in Samail province.

    Another victim “was drowned in a wadi in Liwa,” the report said.

    The towns of Liwa, Sohar, Samail, Sur, and Wahibah were cut off when the country received more than 72 millimeters of rainfall.

    For many in Oman, New Year plans were a washout.

    Oman to allocate $500m to repair damage caused by Cyclone Shaheen

    “We were planning a party on the beach on New Year’s Eve. We already pitched a large tent right on the sands, but rains spoiled everything last night. Not much of a New Year in Muscat this time around,” Khalaf Al Saeedi, 33, a resident of Seeb, told The National.

    The New Year coincided with the weekend in Oman, and many people had planned to spend the day outdoors.

    Shamsa Al Saleh, 23, said she had to cancel an all-girls trip with her friends.

    “Roads are closed towards Wahiba Sands in Sharqiyah because of the rains. We were planning to have lunch there today,” she said.

     

    Wadi flood danger

    Oman Television showed vehicles floating down streets in the raging torrents of flooded wadis as owners desperately tried to tow them out.

    Salam Al Wahaibi, 27, who was in Sur in the eastern region on Friday, said the heavy rainfall caught people by surprise.

    “Many of us have been caught in areas around the wadis. We were trying to camp in one of those places, thinking the rain would not be heavy. I saw at least six cars floating in the water, and owners could not do anything but shout,” he said.

    The Batinah region, which was devastated by Cyclone Shaheen in October, escaped with no “significant” damage to homes, Oman Television said, although trade and traffic were disrupted.

    “I will not be able to open my restaurant for few more days until the water that flooded the road has been cleared,” Ali Al Shamsi, a restaurant owner in the town of Liwa, told The National.

    Parents expressed caution, saying that they may not send their children to school on Sunday, the first day of the week.

    “I will not drive my two children to school tomorrow in case the rains get worse. I will wait and see until Monday,” Fareed Al Abri, 44, who lives in Muscat, told The National.

    The meteorological office said moderate to heavy rains would continue until January 5 and warned the public to avoid wadis and low-lying areas.

    ***

    “It is amazing. The waterfalls are fantastic to watch. It is mesmerizing to the eyes and the splashing of the water from the rocks is very pleasing. We have been driving for over 90 minutes from Muscat to Misfat Al Abriyeen and it is worth it,” Taha Al-Shidi, 37, a mechanical engineer, told The National.

    But other visitors from Muscat who ventured farther afield said their path through mountain roads to get a better view of the water below proved treacherous.

    “What a view we have of the valleys full of water below us,” said Ibrahim Al Raisi, 67, a retired civil servant. “We are at Jabal Shams but the drive up here was not easy. The waterfalls are all around us. It is also almost freezing here since the temperature is about 12 degrees now.”

    Jabal Shams at 3,009 meters is the highest peak in the Gulf region. It is located in the western Hajar mountains, about 250 kilometres from Muscat.

    Those who live there marvelled at the land transformation as the rain kept pouring down in much of the country.

     “Everything is coming back to life,” said Rashid Al Toki, 44, a resident of Liwa in the Batnah region. “The valleys have now been transformed to water parks. It is greening up and we even see wild animals like wild goats, red foxes and rabbits coming to drink. The herdsmen are bringing their goats and sheep to water.”

    Rains that started on December 31, 2021, have so far killed six people, who drowned in overflowing wadis as some towns were cut off by flooding.

    The meteorological office said moderate to heavy rains would continue until January 5 and warned the public to avoid wadis and low-lying areas.

    Farmers in one of the driest areas of the country are happy to see their aflaaj overflowing with water again.

    “My farm is in Ibri, close to Rub Al Khali [the Empty Quarter desert]. This area does not rain much. We struggle to get our aflaaj filled up and we get water tankers to irrigate our farms in the driest spells of the year. But this time, the aflaaj are overflowing and we are building water holes as reserves,” Hafidh Al Siyabi, 47, a farmer in Ibri, told The National.

    Oman was devastated by Cyclone Shaheen in October, when 11 people died. Most of the damage then was in the Batnah region.

    The memories of Shaheen still linger for Omanis who suffered damage to their properties.

    “At least this time round the rains bring something positive and not as destructive like it was during Shaheen. Dry areas are filled up, stunning waterfalls, farmers are happy and visitors find beautiful spots to camp,” said Ghalib Al Hadhrami, 51, a resident of Musannah in the Batnah region, whose house was destroyed by Cyclone Shaheen.

     

    Oman closes schools as heavy rain causes traffic chaos and damages crops

    Oman suspended schools on Tuesday as rains caused serious damage to businesses, vehicles and crops across the country.

    The extreme rainfall was expected to continue until the weekend, the Civil Aviation Authority’s weather office said.

    “Heavy rains will continue for several days and the public needs to limit their travels. Roads will be slippery and drivers must be careful while driving. Fishermen should not venture out to sea with waves expected to reach up to seven meters high,” the authority said.

    It forced Oman’s ministry of education to suspend classes on Tuesday.

    “Schools will be suspended on Tuesday and the ministry of education is waiting for further advice from the official weather forecast to resume classes,” state-owned Oman News Agency reported.

    Videos on social media showed cars trapped in shopping malls surrounded by water. Traffic slowed as drivers carefully navigated flooded roads.

    State-owned Oman Television showed clips of water gushing in and out of underpasses and waterlogged bridges and intersections. Some drivers were forced to return home because they could not reach their places of work.

    “I reached halfway to my office and thought it was better to make the next U-turn and go back home. The roads are full of water, dangerous and unpredictable,” Khamis Al Waili, 37, who works for the National Bank of Oman, told The National.

     

    Heavy rain revives Oman’s Oases

    Traders were forced to pull down shutters as water threatened to flood their shops.

    “I thought it was OK to open my business this morning. I stayed open for only 20 minutes and the rain started again very heavily,” said Yahya Al Farsi, a clothing shop-owner in Muttrah, a seafront town in Muscat.

    “Water from the streets started moving into my shop. Before long, the floor was covered by water and I had to go back home.”

    Farmers are counting the cost too after strong winds and rain ruined crops.

    “The rain was heavy last night. I went out to inspect my vegetables this morning and at least 25% of them are floating in the water and heading to the wadi. Some of my trees have been uprooted by the wind too,” Tarek Al Subhi, a farmer at Al Hamra in the Dakhliya region, told The National.

    Flooding in Oman, triggered by heavy rain that began on New Year’s Eve, killed six people and left several towns cut off.

    The last floods in Oman were in October, when Cyclone Shaheen devastated the country and killed 11 people. Most of the damage was in the Batnah region.

     

    Heavy rain in Oman brings stunning waterfalls to life

    There are some good news about the situation too. Inclement weather creates ‘mesmerizing’ natural features that are attracting tourists from across the country.

    Torrential rains that battered Oman are bringing waterfalls back to the country, turning parched valleys into flowing water parks.

    Rain that reached 120 millimeters in some areas is creating waterfalls that are pulling in domestic tourists. The wet weather is a boon for some farmers whose irrigation systems are benefiting.

    Some visitors have driven for more than an hour and a half to reach the “mesmerizing” waterfalls, which they say made the long drive worth it.

     

    Opinion: here comes the rain in Oman: why we love it

    A country with hills and vales with lots of greenery, rain is a beautiful experience in Oman, if you are ready to enjoy the beauty, believes Reena Rahman. She wrote an article for The Arabian Stories.

    ***

    When I woke up this morning, it was raining cats and dogs. I could see the waterlogged roads, parked cars in floodwaters, vicinities without sign of life. Rain is nothing unusual for Oman, which has witnessed climatic extremity on more than one occasion in recent times.

    Yes, rain has often played spoilsports in the country too. This time also, it is the same, affecting the flow of life in the gush of rain fury. Transportation affected, public movement affected. The authorities have even temporarily suspended the Covid-19 vaccination service in old Muscat airport in Seeb due to heavy rainfall, though. Educational institutions have been closed and examinations canceled due to the heavy rain.

    Owing to the topography of the place, many localities in Oman get cut off and people prefer to remain indoors. You can see water gushing from hillsides to the roads thus marooning many places. But this is an excellent occasion for the adventure lovers to chase the rain, be with it and live in it, of course with due care.

    A country with hills and vales with lots of greenery, rain is a beautiful experience in Oman, if you are ready to enjoy the beauty. There are places where you can safely enjoy rain.

    While watching the rain outdoors, I am reminded of a book, ‘Chasing The Monsoon: A Modern Pilgrimage Through India’, by Alexander Frater, and the documentary film based on his experience aired by the BBC.

    It was probably for the first time that such a great idea of enjoying the rain was introduced, as he travelled in the late 1980s from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala to Bombay, and then crossing to Delhi and Calcutta, to finish in Cherrapunji.

    His mission was to follow the onset of the monsoon up the western coast of India, thus revealing the beauty of rain and introduce the overwhelming weather season to the word thus presenting its cultural diversity as well.

    In this travelogue of amazing character, Frater sometimes stayed behind it and sometimes in front of it, thus presenting a breathtaking picture of the extraordinary phenomenon called rain.If you are a traveler at heart, and loves a vacation that is unconventional, Alexander Frater’s narrative would tempt and provoke you for sure.

     And, though not as big as India, Oman has such a great experience in stock during the rains, if you are ready to explore it, adhering to the rules of the country and with all precautionary measures.

    If the sun-soaked beaches can tempt you, if the hailstorm and snowfall in the hills can lure you, the rain too has its magic spell once you are ready to enjoy it in all its wilderness in a country that has a magical touch to its climate.

    Come, let’s celebrate rain!

     

    Muscat Municipality begins clean-up after heavy rain

    After heavy rainfall that lashes the governorate on Tuesday, Muscat Municipality started a huge clean-up operation.

    Muscat Municipality have begun a huge clean-up operation following heavy rainfall across the governorate on Tuesday.

    In a statement issued, the Municipality said it is making great efforts to deal with the effects of the weather by cleaning the dusty roads and disposing of waste, and opening the paths for the accumulated water to flow.

    “Muscat Municipality is making great efforts to treat the damage, open the affected roads, remove sand and waste, clean sites, suck up water bodies, spray insecticides, and move fallen trees in many parts of the city,” Municipality said in the statement.

    ***

    The world is changing, and the cataclysms that happened around the globe in summer, 2021, were the evidence of this change. But humanity still has a chance to influence the situation and return the climate to the state of the pre-industrial period. Floods in Europe in 2021 will lead to desertification by 2070? Let’s find the answers here.

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