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No cloud seeding operations were conducted during Tuesday’s extreme weather: NCM

No cloud seeding operations were conducted during Tuesday’s extreme weather: NCM
18 Apr 2024 08:07

ALLAN JACOB (ABU DHABI)

The UAE is a pioneer in cloud seeding to induce rainfall, but the winds and thunderstorms that affected the country on Tuesday were not the result of these operations, weather officials told Aletihad on Wednesday.

The National Center of Meteorology (NCM) said the record-breaking rains, the heaviest in the country in 75 years, were caused by a natural weather phenomenon that stretched from Oman, which also experienced a storm last week.

“No, NCM didn’t conduct any seeding operations during this event,” said Adel Kamal, an NCM official, who added that the centre does not conduct cloud-seeding operations during “extreme weather events”.

This clarification by the NCM has quelled speculation on social media that the rainfall was made worse or triggered by cloud seeding operations.

Kamal explained that one of the basic principles of cloud seeding is that clouds are targeted in their early stages before it rains.

“If you have a severe thunderstorm situation then it is too late to conduct any seeding operation moreover,” he said.

The NCM official added that the centre takes the safety of its people, pilots and aircraft very seriously.

The centre is a leader in “precipitation enhancement” science, and part of its research involves taking measurements and cloud samples to better understand the dynamics and micro-physical processes that happens in clouds.

The NCM, on Monday, first released an orange weather alert, which was raised to red on Tuesday afternoon when rains and winds lashed the country. It lowered the alert later in the evening as the storm passed.

Based on the NCM forecast, schools and government staff moved online, working and learning remotely during the adverse weather conditions.

Early on Wednesday morning, NCM said the highest rainfall of around 254mm was recorded in Khatm Al Shiklah, Al Ain.

Normal life across the emirates was affected during the worst spell of rains and winds that struck in three waves. Water-logged roads, along with flight delays and cancellations, were reported from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and other major cities.

Dubai Metro operations were also impacted, as police and emergency services personnel worked tirelessly through the night to assist motorists on the roads to reach their homes after their vehicles broke down in the rising waters.

The UAE launched its cloud seeding and rain enhancement programme in the 1990s.

In the early 2000s, it partnered with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Colorado, USA, along with the Witwatersrand University in South Africa and the US Space Agency, NASA.

The country now has 60 weather stations, with six aircraft for cloud seeding operations that are mostly conducted in mountainous areas in the Northeast. These operations are often conducted during the summer season when cumulus clouds tend to gather over the region. Only natural salts and no harmful chemicals are used for these operations, according to the NCM.

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