Riyadh gets ready for winter rains

Cloudy Sky in Riyadh on Friday morning.

Cloudy Sky in Riyadh on Friday morning.

A thick blanket of cloud enveloped the city’s skyline for most of the day on Friday, making it a perfect weekend after a long spell of sultry heat in the capital.

The overcast sky made the day pleasant for Riyadh residents, reducing the temperature to the lowest level seen so far this season. The minimum temperature dived to 11 degrees celsius, as was forecast by the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) earlier this week.

According to the PME, rain is likely to lash the capital in the next 48 hours while thundershowers are expected in the highlands of Asir, Baha and Jazan in the next 24 hours.

Regardless, many people were happy with the change in weather and enjoyed the cooler winter temperatures immensely, donning their warm winter clothes early in the morning.

“I am enjoying the weather. It is indeed a welcome change marking the onset of winter,” said Mohammad Zeyad, an event organizer in the capital.

Families were seen enjoying the cloudy sky with many going to their favorite destinations on the city outskirts, including Wadi Laban, Wadi Hanifa and Wadi Namar, which are perfect picnic spots for families and friends to enjoy the weekend and not worry about the scorching sunshine.

The capital also experienced a substantial decline in the maximum temperature, which was recorded at 25 degrees Celsius on Friday, compared to 28 degrees on Thursday.

The mercury is expected to further plummet by several degrees in the next 24 hours due to the inclement weather, with no rain, and a humidity level of 45 percent. Winds are expected to blow at 11 km/h.

Meanwhile, the health committee of the Directorate General of Health Affairs in Riyadh held an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss contingency plans for rains in the coming days.

“We must ensure that all hospitals in the region are ready to cope with projected climate fluctuations in the region,” said Adnan Al-Abdulkarim, director general of health affairs.

Al-Abdulkarim added that it’s also necessary to ensure that there will be additional personnel such as doctors and nurses to work in emergency departments around the clock.

“Moreover, there should also be field and maintenance teams to work and deal with any breakdown or problem at health facilities,” he said.

He called for “proactive and preventive measures to ensure safety of drain holes in all hospitals and health care centers and that these are cleaned to ensure rainwater drainage.”

He stressed the importance of reviewing safety procedures and plans for patients who might be transferred to other hospitals in emergency situations associated with sudden climatic fluctuations.

The Civil Defense, meanwhile, has urged the public to take precautions and not stay out late in desert areas, adding that people should follow the weather reports issued by the PME.

Many families were seen in shopping malls purchasing winter clothing. Some shops have also announced winter sales in a bid to lure shoppers.

On the west coast, Jeddah is yet to recover from Tuesday’s downpour. The Department of Education has reached out to the Jeddah municipality to help address swamps of rainwater affecting 199 schools, municipality spokesman Mohammed Al-Buqmi said.

He said the municipality has identified rainwater swamps around these schools and field teams have been mobilized to drain the water. Teams are working in two shifts, and using equipment and pumps to drain the water.

The municipality is also working on removing standing water at main intersections and roadways throughout the province, especially in areas where water drainage networks have been inefficient.

Director of Education in Jeddah Abdullah Al-Thuqafi downplayed the seriousness of the damage, however, noting that “the damage is minor and schools, offices and maintenance teams have treated these issues in coordination with the municipality and the department of safety and security at the Civil Defense.”


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