Heavy downpours wreak havoc on Qatar’s roads, schools and malls

Heavy flooding on the roads this morning caused traffic to come to a standstill for hours. The downpour of rain also prompted several school closures, as well as the shuttering of many malls, including Villaggio, Hyatt Plaza and Dar Al Salam.

UPDATE | 7:23pm

On Twitter, the Supreme Education Council (SEC) has announced that most private and independent schools will resume tomorrow, adding that only a limited number of buildings damaged in the flooding will remain closed.

But with rain in the forecast all day, whether that decision is final remains to be seen.

In addition to school closures, the precipitation has caused flight delays and also permeated hotel and office buildings. Stay tuned for the latest updates here:

UPDATE | 3:45pm

The Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning has been dispatching trucks onto Qatar’s roads to clear some of the flooding:

Qatar’s Meterology Department says that the area around Hamad International Airport has seen the highest amount of rainfall, with more than 80 millimeters accumulated in the last 24 hours:

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment is urging residents to remain conscious of nature:

“The Ministry called upon all goers to Qatari Desert and meadows all over the country not to enter those areas with vehicles or motorcycles and to abide by roads only, and to avoid crushing plants and shrubs by cars or motorcycles so as not to cause damage to environment and soil, that threatens wildlife and distorts the beauty of nature on land.”

UPDATE | 2:38pm

In a spot of good news, Salwa Road’s underpasses have not flooded this year, as they did in March 2014.

Additionally, Qatar’s public works authority Ashghal has cleared up rumors that bridges in Qatar are in danger of cracking, saying that the structure is completely safe:

UPDATE | 2:20pm

Ezdan Mall in Al Gharafa evacuated and closed its top floor, including the food court, earlier this morning after a section of the interior plaster ceiling near Funville children’s play area collapsed. Water could be seen pouring into the mall:

However, stores on its ground floor remain open and operating as normal, and its parking is also open, a mall spokesperson told Doha News.

UPDATE | 1:30pm

Villaggio Mall is closed – apparently due to the rain – but may reopen in the evening:

UPDATE | 1:05pm

Here’s the weather forecast for the rest of the day:

UPDATE | 12:55pm

At the Aspire Zone, the Ladies Club will be closed today and tomorrow “due to safety reasons.”

UPDATE | 12:50pm

For those with cars stranded on the road, some residents are offering assistance:

UPDATE | 12:10pm

Traffic notwithstanding, some residents have taken advantage of the unusual weather and are having some fun:

UPDATE | 12pm

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar has also closed for the day, telling its community that the current forecast is calling for “significant rainfall between 1-3pm.”

UPDATE | 11:39am

More images from this morning’s flooding continue to come in:

UPDATE | 10:50am

The memes are already beginning:

UPDATE | 10:32am

Criticism about how authorities have been handling the rain is already being raised.

Speaking to Doha News, Al Sharq journalist Ahmed Al Mohannadi, said that the capital has turned into a “lake,” adding that heavy rain shouldn’t paralyze the country.

He said although Qatar has new buildings and the MET can predict weather changes beforehand, it still continues to make the same mistakes with regards to construction and its drainage systems, and not having enough equipped emergency squads to deal with the heavy rain.

He added that no one was being held accountable for this problem. “We don’t learn from our previous mistakes,” he said. He also called on SEC to suspend schools tomorrow as well, to prevent any surprises.

However, others said the rain had not disrupted their day, thanks to new drainage works in their areas:

UPDATE | 10:29am

The rain is starting to taper off in many parts of Doha, but traffic gridlock remains, in part because parents are attempting to pick up their children up from school.

The Ministry of Interior is advising anyone who needs emergency assistance to call 999 for help.

UPDATE | 10:19am

Hyatt Plaza is closed due to flooding. A receptionist told Doha News that it may reopen later in the day.

UPDATE | 10:12am

Several nurseries will be closing early today, including Starfish Lanes.

UPDATE | 9:57am

The Supreme Education Council has closed independent schools early, in phases based on the grades of the students.

UPDATE | 9:50am

The International School of London is closing at 11am. In Education City, at least one school is also shutting due to the weather:

Meanwhile, there are reports circulating of rain inside the airport:

UPDATE | 9:47am

Cambridge School has also closed.

Reports of widespread flooding on major roads continue to pour in:

https://twitter.com/ulutwit/status/669406100765196289

UPDATE | 9:41am

Compass International School, Madinat Khalifa has also closed early, citing in an email to parents “issues with flooding, electricity supply issues and there is still the concern of continual heavy rain at pick up time.”

UPDATE | 9:37am

Hamad Hospital is operating normally, but is canceling all appointments at its Bone and Joint Center “due to operational issues related to the inclement weather.

All patients affected will be contacted by our patient contact center and their appointments rescheduled at a clinically appropriate time,” HMC told Doha News in a statement.

UPDATE | 9:25am

The US Embassy in Doha has closed due to “inclement weather.”

UPDATE | 8:44am

Speaking to Doha News, the manager of Dar Al Salam mall also said it would be closing temporarily this morning, as water from the road has flowed into the basement and flooded the mall.


According to residents on social media, flooding was widespread across Doha, including in Mesaieed, Al Wabb, on the Corniche, near Civil Defense roundabout and Bin Omran, as well as several parts of West Bay.

The rainfall has also caused several school closures, including Doha College – Al Waab (which was flooded) and West Bay campus, Doha English Speaking School (DESS) and the American School of Doha (ASD) “due to unsafe weather conditions.”

Flights

Flights at Hamad International Airport also appear to be delayed, but it is unclear if that is due to flooding or the lightning.

According to FlightRadar, several planes appeared to be circling HIA, unable to land. A few had delayed departures, but planes could be seen taking off by 8am this morning.

Meanwhile, residents are also reporting flooding and leaks in their homes and at hotels:

Forecast

According to the Qatar Meteorology Department (MET), the country will see heavy rain and thunderstorms today, weather that will likely continue tomorrow.

It offered these tips to stay safe on the roads:

As a reminder, general safety tips during rainy conditions. #Qatar

A photo posted by أرصاد قطر (@qatarweather) on

Motorists should also keep in mind that hazard lights are not to be used during rainy weather, unless the vehicle is actually stopped for an emergency.

For its part, the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning has been working to pump out extra water from flood roads, and reminds people to call these numbers for help.

What was your morning like? Thoughts?

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