Record Rainfall in Dubai Causes Mayhem and Massive Disruption

Record Rainfall in Dubai Causes Mayhem and Massive Disruption

by Kiril Krastanoff

The bustling metropolis of Dubai was built on the sands of the Arabian Desert, but last week, the city witnessed a record-breaking rainfall and flash flood that had not been seen in 75 years. 

This unprecedented desert downpour–a welcome sight in a region where the locals pray for precipitation and water is scarce and as valuable as oil–was more of a curse than a blessing. 

The waters rose in an instant. The rising tides of flood water surged through the streets, inside buildings, and across airport runways, shutting down one of the world’s busiest and most vital aviation hubs. The storm and rising waters left a wake of destruction and death. Several people were killed when they were trapped inside their vehicles. Massive chaos ensued. 

The Dubai storm is a stark reminder of the power of nature and the importance of being prepared for unforeseen circumstances–especially those delivered by Mother Nature. 

Floods, like the one that unfolded in Dubai, can strike anywhere and with little warning. They can cause catastrophic damage. A well-defined disaster plan–for a flood, an earthquake, or any other natural disaster–is essential for protecting your family and property from the elements and the collateral damage that will follow.  At MIRA Safety, we prioritize empowering our customers with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate emergencies and emerge safe and sound. 


Table of Contents

  • 01

    Were There Warning Signs? - How An Unprecedented Downpour in Dubai Occured

  • 02

    How Long Did The Storm Last

  • 03

    Flash Floods and Transportation Chaos

  • 04

    Property Damage and Infrastructure Issues

  • 05

    Cloud Seeding - Are We Playing With Concepts We Can't Fully Grasp?

  • 06

    Cleaning Up and Assessing the Damage

  • 07

    Mitigating Flood Risk in the U.S. - Rising Concerns Over Recent Storms

  • 08

    Texas Flood Control And Flood Zone Map

  • 09

    How Can You Become Better Prepared For Flooding Disasters

Inside the How An Unprecedented Dubai Downpour - Were There Any Warning Signs?

Several days before the storm, Middle Eastern meteorologists predicted that Dubai would get hit with a massive rainfall. The authorities issued stark warnings. But no one believed that so much rain would fall. The deluge was unlike anything the region had witnessed before. The United Arab Emirates reported its highest 24-hour rain accumulations since record-keeping began in 1949.

While heavy rain is uncommon in Dubai, it's not unheard of. The Arabian Peninsula typically receives just a few inches of rain annually, but it tends to be concentrated in massive bursts rather than consistent showers that last for hours. Oman, which borders the Arabian Sea, is more susceptible to tropical cyclones that bring torrential rain and mudslides.

How Much Rain Did Dubai See?

Satellite view of the flooding extent (Image courtesy of NASA)

Dubai usually gets only a few inches of precipitation annually and it received a year’s worth of rain–roughly 100 to 200 millimeters (4 to 8 inches)--in less than 12 hours. Some areas further east of Dubai were hit even harder, experiencing nearly 2 years' worth of rain in less than 24 hours, with totals of close to 250 millimeters (10 inches).

Satellite imagery captured days after the storm revealed the lingering effects of this historic event. The vibrant blue pools of floodwater seen in the images stand out starkly against the region's typical arid landscape, highlighting how drainage infrastructure was overwhelmed and resulted in widespread flooding.

Flash Floods and Transportation Chaos

Chaos at Dubai International Airport caused by the flooded tarmacs that canceled scores of flights forcing travelers to miss their connections  (Image courtesy of AFP/ Getty Images)

The record-breaking rainfall in Dubai created a transportation nightmare. 

The sheer amount of water overwhelmed the city state’s drainage systems, leading to flash floods that surged across the city's streets.  What would normally be manageable puddles became raging seas in minutes, causing widespread chaos: 

  • Roads became impassable as the floodwaters rose rapidly. Traffic ground to a halt by the impassable waters.  Motorists were stranded in the unexpected deluge and needed to be rescued from their vehicles.  
  • The BBC reported that cars were submerged throughout the city, forcing some drivers to abandon their vehicles and seek higher ground. 
  • The exact number of vehicles affected remains unclear, but images and videos circulating online painted a vivid picture of the widespread damage.

The downpour significantly disrupted operations at Dubai International Airport, one of the world's busiest. 

Flights were canceled or delayed, leaving passengers stranded and scrambling to rebook alternative connections. Airlines faced the challenge of clearing a massive backlog of luggage and stranded passengers while trying to return flight operations to normal. 

Property Damage and Infrastructure Issues

Cars floating on a flooded street in Dubai (Image courtesy of Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images)

The downpour caused widespread property damage and exposed the super high-tech city’s infrastructure vulnerabilities. Homes, businesses, and buildings across Dubai suffered varying degrees of damage from the rising floodwaters.

The storm's fury wasn't selective–luxury high-rise and migrant worker neighborhoods alike suffered from flooding. 

The city's infrastructure could not s cope with the flash floods. This resulted in waterlogging on streets, putting pressure on sewage systems and potentially causing long-term damage to road networks.

Cloud Seeding - Are We Playing With Concepts We Can't Fully Grasp?

The news that the Kingdom of  Saudi Arabia was going to conduct approximately 300 cloud-seeding missions in 2024 raised the serious question of “Are we tampering with weather patterns we don't fully understand with ramifications we cannot foresee?” The short answer is no. Current technology cannot reproduce the amount of rainfall that fell in Dubai. However, in the delicate balance of nature, even the most minute weather modifications can do more harm than good.

How Does Cloud Seeding Work?

Image courtesy of Envato

Cloud seeding is a weather modification technique that aims to increase precipitation. It involves introducing substances like silver iodide or dry ice into clouds, which act as condensation nuclei. 

These nuclei provide microscopic "platforms" for water vapor in the air to condense around, potentially forming larger droplets that fall as rain or snow.

The Saudi government, facing chronic water shortages in the desert kingdom, has actively pursued cloud seeding to manipulate its arid climate and increase its nebulous rainfall. Cloud seeding offers attempts to coax more rain from existing clouds. 

The plan, known as  Saudi Vision 2030, is a strategic framework for the country's development., The plan emphasizes environmental sustainability, increasing green spaces, and vegetation growth.

While cloud seeding technology holds promise, it remains a subject of ongoing research and debate.  The effectiveness of cloud seeding varies depending on atmospheric conditions, and some studies suggest that it could yield only a modest increase in precipitation.  

Most worrisome,  the long-term environmental impacts of manipulating weather patterns are not yet understood.

Cleaning Up and Assessing the Damage

A massive cleanup effort is underway in Dubai. Municipal services are working around the clock to clean up the damage caused by the flooding to provide relief to those impacted by the historic storm and get things back to normal.

Relief Efforts:

A person walking on Dubais Sheikh Zayed Road (Image courtesy of Christopher Pike/AP)

UAE emergency management services–including the military–were mobilized to take charge of the rescue and relief effort. They provided temporary shelter to those left homeless by the storm and distributed essential supplies–such as food and water–to those impacted by the devastation it caused. The local government also provided financial assistance to those who lost their businesses and belongings. 

Dubai residents and business owners with the proper insurance will probably recoup some of their losses, but this is a part of the world where flood insurance is rare. Those without insurance will face significant financial loss, even with government assistance. 

Mitigating Flood Risk in the U.S. - Rising Concerns Over Recent Storms

SHTF news updates have been reporting on the increasingly dangerous weather patterns and storms experienced by many in the United States.

As a result, we have assembled indispensable information on flooding.

How Common is Flooding in the U.S.?

Aerial view of flooding (Image courtesy of Envato)

Flooding is a major threat across the United States.  According to the National Weather Service, it is the most common natural disaster encountered in the country,  causing more damage than hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning strikes combined.  Floods can strike anywhere, anytime, and with little warning.

Recent storms in the U.S. have raised concerns about infrastructure.  While a detailed analysis of every storm is beyond the scope of this section,  heavy rainfall events and subsequent flooding have highlighted vulnerabilities in certain areas, warranting new planning by government authorities and citizens alike. 

This has prompted discussions about new and improved flood management strategies and stronger infrastructure to cope with extreme weather events.

The States Most at Risk from Extreme Rain-Induced Floods:

Map depicting the flood risk for the U.S (Image courtesy of

Several states rank highest in terms of flood risk. They include coastal states like Louisiana and Florida, which face storm surges and riverine flooding; low-lying areas near major rivers, as are found in Mississippi and Missouri; and states prone to flash floods due to mountainous terrain, such as Oklahoma and Arizona.

Some of the highest-risk flood states include: 

  • Texas: Texas leads the nation in flood-related economic losses due to its extensive river systems and sprawling urban areas.
  • Louisiana: Situated along the Mississippi River and prone to hurricanes, Louisiana faces a significant flood threat. The 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans area and part of Florida as well and resulted in over 1,800 deaths.
  • Oklahoma: Flash floods pose a particular danger in Oklahoma due to its mountainous terrain and history of intense thunderstorms.
  • California: While drought is a major concern, California also experiences periods of heavy rain that can trigger floods and mudslides, especially in burn scar areas.
  • The Midwest: States like Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois experience frequent flooding along the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

It's important to note the risk of flooding within states, with certain regions or cities more susceptible than others.  Floodplain maps,  available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),  can help you better understand their flood risk.

The Texas Flood Control And Flood Zone Map

Living in the Lone Star State comes with its fair share of sunshine, delicious BBQ brisket,  wide-open spaces, and extensive river systems with low-lying areas subject to frequent periods of heavy rain–a destructive recipe for endless bouts of disastrous flooding. 

Types of Floods in Texas:

  • Riverine Flooding:  Overflowing rivers pose a major threat across Texas. The Mississippi, Rio Grande, and Brazos Rivers can cause significant flooding when water levels rise beyond their banks.  These floods can inundate entire communities and leave a trail of destruction.
  • Flash Flooding:  Rapid, intense downpours, particularly in areas with poor drainage or mountainous terrain, can result in flash floods. These waters come with little warning and can rise quickly, posing a dire threat to prone communities. 
  • Coastal Flooding:  The Gulf Coast is exposed to the risk of storm surge flooding. Hurricanes and tropical storms can push massive volumes of water ashore, causing significant inundation and property damage in coastal areas.

Knowing the type of flood risk you face in your area is the first step toward preparedness.

 Finding Your Flood Risk:

Live map of updated flood events in Texas (Live map can be found here)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) distributes zone maps that serve as a guide for areas with elevated risk for flood risk.  

Knowing your flood zone is crucial:  flood insurance is often mandatory in high-risk zones, and understanding your risk can help you make informed decisions about property purchases and mitigation strategies.

This link to an interactive FEMA Base Flood Elevation map allows you to estimate how many feet of water can accumulate during the strongest storms occurring in any calendar year.

Note: FEMA flood zone maps are a vital starting point, but they do not answer questions concerning all types of potential flood risks.

Additional Resources for Texans

The Texas Water Development Board is a great starting point for information on an area’s flood risk in the Lone Star State. This agency provides a wealth of useful knowledge on flood hazards and flood assistance in detailed maps for Texans.  The Board also provides different types of flood hazard maps,  educational resources on flood mitigation strategies, and updates on current flood conditions.

This high-resolution map outlines the boundaries of all 15 flood planning regions in Texas.

Additional Resources for Texans

The Texas Water Development Board is a great starting point for information on flood risk. This state agency provides a wealth of useful knowledge on flood hazards and flood assistance in detailed maps for Texans.  The Board also provides different types of flood hazard maps,  educational resources on flood mitigation strategies, and updates on current flood conditions.

This high-resolution map outlines the boundaries of all 15 flood planning regions in Texas.

How To Be  Better Prepared For a Flood Disaster

Persson on a bike amidst post-flood emergency response (Image courtesy of Envato)

Flooding is a serious threat across the United States, but with the proper preparation, you can significantly reduce your risk of damage and ensure the safety of you and your loved ones. 

Here are some steps you can take:

1. Understand Your Flood Risk:

Identify your flood risk.  Many resources are available to help you with this.

  • FEMA Flood Map Service Center: This interactive website allows you to enter your address and view your designated flood zone. Knowing your flood zone helps determine your flood risk, which may impact insurance requirements and responsibilities.
  • Local Resources: Many state and local agencies post area flood zone maps and emergency preparedness information on government websites.

2. Develop a Flood Preparedness Plan:

Infographics showing the basic course of action during a flood (Image courtesy of US.Gov)

Ensure that everyone in your household knows what to do in the event of a flood. Here are some key elements of a flood preparedness plan:


  • Identify Evacuation Routes and Shelters: Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes and designated shelters close to you.
  • Communication Plan: Establish a communication plan for your family in the eventuality you are all separated by flood waters.
  • Assemble a Flood Preparedness Kit: Prepare a flood kit containing essential supplies like non-perishable food, water, a first-aid kit, and medications to survive for at least 72 hours.

    3. Take Mitigation Measures:

    Several measures can be taken to mitigate potential flood damage to your property.  These can include:

    • Elevate Utilities: Consider elevating electrical panels, appliances, and furnaces above potential floodwater levels.
    • Floodproofing Measures: Explore options like sealing basements and installing flood vents and backflow preventers to minimize water infiltration.
    • Sandbags: Having sandbags on hand can help create temporary barriers to divert floodwater.

      4. Stay Informed and Take Action:

      • Monitor Weather Reports: Pay close attention to weather forecasts and warnings issued by the National Weather Service (NWS).
      • Flood Warnings: Heed flood warnings and evacuation orders issued by local authorities.
      • Flood Insurance: Consider purchasing flood insurance, especially if you live in a high-risk zone. Standard homeowner's insurance typically does not cover flood damage.

        Summary  - The Most Important Points To Remember About Flood Preparedness

        Flooding is a powerful and unpredictable natural disaster. But with knowledge and preparation, you can significantly reduce your risk and ensure your safety and that of your loved ones. Here are the key takeaways from this guide, based on official government disaster planning resources:

        Know Your Flood Risk:  Understanding your flood zone is crucial. FEMA's Flood Map Service Center and local resources can help you identify your level of risk. This information is essential for planning and may even impact insurance requirements.

        Be Proactive with a Flood Plan:  Do not wait until disaster strikes.  Formulate a plan! Develop flood preparedness protocols that outline evacuation routes, communication strategies, and a well-stocked flood kit. Regularly review and update your plan with your family.

        Mitigate Potential Damage:  Taking steps to mitigate flood damage to your property can save you time, money, and heartache in the long run. Consider elevating utilities, installing floodproofing measures, and having sandbags on hand.

        Frequently Asked Questions

        I don't live near a major river; am I still at risk of flooding?
        What if I rent my home - Do I need to worry about flood insurance?
        My basement floods every time there's heavy rain. What mitigation measures can I take?