I knew before relocating to the Sultanate of Oman that this is one of the hottest, driest places on Earth. I’d spent a few years in the Australian outback, and wasn’t concerned about extreme heat. I hadn’t anticipated accompanying extremes of humidity though, or that the “real feel” (adjusted) temperatures would reach 60°C (140°F). How can it get so humid in a desert city that gets around 100mm (4 inches) of annual rainfall?
I was surprised to discover that many Muscat schools and colleges close when it rains, much like the rare snow-day reprieves I loved so much as a kid. As a Gulf newcomer I didn’t understand why every minor rain event dominates the headlines, or why my 18-year-old students rush to the window at the first hint of a shower, every bit as excitable as 8-year-old me on an Australian snow-day.
Then I found out just what half an inch of rain can do.
Yesterday was hot and sunny in Muscat, like most days since the last ice age. I went out for a drive, took a swim at a nice little beach and met a couple of friends at the beach bar.
After lunch the pressure dropped and the wind picked up… it started to rain. Not a torrential downpour (which would be catastrophic) but a light steady rain for less than an hour. Driving home I used my windscreen wipers only sporadically, but I did come across this…
Suburbs were flooded and roads were closed. Trees were down. There was a partial roof collapse at Muscat Grand Mall. Whenever it rains for more than a couple of minutes, people tragically die, swept away in the flash floods that fill the wadis in just seconds. It seems almost impossible that a desert city on the Arabian Peninsular can in just moments be transformed into scenes like this…
If you happen to be a fan of rugged natural beauty, Muscat is a spectacular sight. Surrounded by a breathtaking rocky mountainscape, it is very fortunate that such little rain falls… a city couldn’t exist here otherwise. A few millimeters of rainwater transforms into a cascading torrent, exploding down these barren slopes with nowhere to go except into the city.
And then, almost as quickly as it arrived, the water is mysteriously and unapologetically gone… businesses and individuals start counting their losses and the cleaning up begins again.
The losses sustained after each rain are almost incomprehensible. After Friday’s weather, a Times of Oman article reported that 70 lives are lost each year on average in Oman, and the annual financial cost exceeds 1.2 billion OMR (over US $3bn). This means that every inch of rain that falls on Muscat does approximately 800 million dollars in damages.
…and here’s a bit of fun footage from the Times of Oman showing the results of Friday’s rain, and some local nuts who might not completely appreciate the power of water…
That was the very first time I had experienced during my stayed the heavily rains with strongest winds that caused many cars to rumble..
For the past 8 years of my stay, this is the first time that I saw Al khuwair area being flooded. For the past years of year, the flooding usually happen in Ruwi, Darsait, Qurum and Hamriya
Nice summary. I’m sending it to U.S. relatives who have no clue…
because of bad planing. .
I hope no one got hurt or lost their lives… they should plan of making flood control ditches…
o m g… so sad…
but sohar not comes rain..
Vert sad that todays rigth because that tme you cant Say thé road going sohar
Correction on dates.. the Mcdonalds and car racks were taken from the Hurrican Gonu in July 2007 if memory serves right.. the following Storm was Phet.. in 2010
Thanks for this
I was glad when i read this post. The perspective intrigued me so i thought i would just update on the dates. Thank you for the post i found it quite informative.
Rey Pocais, as far as i know 5 people died in this flood, mainly from the area “Al Hoqain”
Peace be upon them…
Ooohhhhhh so sad
Olmost dont have drainase
So get the drainage sorted out; at least on the most susceptible roads. The main SQ Road at Khuwair springs to mind!
I thought improvement in drainage done ..remember gonu ?
Oh so sad
DRAINAGE PLAN THE ANSWER
A littlebet rain damage a lot…
those are the causes….now they need action and improvement….
thats y i dont want to go out when the rain is coming… im leaving in khuwair…
Yes because need drainage lol so sad
Thanks all, but that is not true. Yes we face big problems as Oman is a mountain country and their many valleys, but infrastructure improvement have taken place in the last 8 years. Please see or go around if you’re in Oman before you say
Absolutely right sir I m with you..people who are criticizing oman should first go to their own countries and then talk.oman is million times better infrastructure than other countries.I salute to all authorities who are working for oman.May oman live long
Yes I’m agree sir because I was here at 2009 till now alhamdulilah oman have big improvement and peacefull country I’m happy to be here..
Since 1995 i was here n oman..people here always smile at u..they r not proud
Drainage system have improved a lot after ‘Gonu’ if u will drive from Ruwi to seeb you can see the difference but may be few other areas have to be addressed too
May be in future the metrology, the weather predicting department should notify the municipality about rain expected days in advance so that they can arrange to clean and keep the drainage system to free flow
Wap great loss
As does the Omanization of things like civil engineering.
Sml rain only but all damage…
Sometimes i wonder if the topography was totally ignored especially while giving out new permits for development !
Chance to swim for those who doesn’t used to take a shower. Peace
billion dollar ???.
Lynda Silk – you might find this an interesting read!
Needs more improvement on the drainage.
Still, they do not work on developing a drainage system … that would be probably cheaper, efficient and necessary
How’s the life at Salalah. Lesser than the MSL sea level. ..
Should plan how to construck a good drainege becoz if theres no drainage that is the cause of flood
Oman is very rich country you can make it a good drainage
Sajid ali you’ve love so much your country and I salute you for that….