UAE government says cloud seeding did not take place before Dubai floods

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The National Center of Meteorology, a government task force responsible for cloud seeding missions in the United Arab Emirates, said it had not carried out the weather modification technique in the run-up to the heavy storms that caused flooding in places like Dubai.

The organization told CNBC that it did not dispatch pilots for seeding operations before or during the storm that struck the UAE on Tuesday.

Omar AlYazeedi, deputy director general of the NCM, said the agency “did not conduct any seeding operations during this event.”

He added: “One of the basic principles of cloud seeding is that you have to target clouds in its early stage before it rains, if you have a severe thunderstorm situation then it is too late to conduct any seeding operation.”

On Tuesday, the country experienced an extremely heavy downpour, with more than 250 millimeters (10 inches) of rainfall in the Emirate of Al Ain, according to NCM figures, and more than 100 mm in places like Dubai. The annual rainfall in the UAE averages between 140 to 200 mm.

The NCM’s statement followed an earlier Bloomberg report, in which Ahmed Habib, a meteorologist, had said that the Tuesday rains had stemmed partly from cloud seeding. Habib later told CNBC that six pilots had flown missions as part of regular protocol but had not seeded any clouds. CNBC was not able to independently verify the reports.

Cloud seeding, a process used to enhance rainfall, has been an integral part of the UAE’s mission to solve water shortages. Seeding missions were introduced in the 1990s, and more than 1,000 hours of cloud seeding are now performed annually.

The NCM said it had tracked the incoming heavy rain but did not target any clouds during that period, attributing the storm to natural rainfall.

“We take the safety of our people, pilots, and aircrafts very seriously,” AlYazeedi said. “The NCM does not conduct cloud seeding operations during extreme weather events.”

The Gulf state has experienced a rise in rainfall in the last few years, and precipitation is expected to increase by up 30% by the year 2080, according to a January study published in the journal Nature.

Traditionally characterized by its desert climate and scarce rainfall, the UAE has experienced shifts in weather patterns as a consequence of climate change.

The UAE government’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority issued warnings on X ahead of the extreme weather conditions and urged residents to stay home and adhere to safety guidelines.

The UAE’s infrastructure and buildings are designed for the weather patterns typical to the region, so drainage systems struggled to keep up with the unprecedented downpours, resulting in flooding along many roads and at the Dubai airport.

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