Washed away: Rain wrecks road, school in Oman
July 16, 2017 | 9:12 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan/[email protected]
More than 25mm of rain caused flash floods in Rustaq, flooded wadis and damaged roads

Muscat: A stretch of road was washed away and a school flooded after flash floods struck northern Oman. People have been advised to stay at home or travel with care in areas affected by the heavy rain, especially in the Al Batinah Governorate.

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The road was swept away in the town of Al Awabi, which is located about 28km, or 35 minutes, south of Rustaq.

The flooding was the direct consequence of heavy cloud build-up in and around the Al Hajar Mountains, which led to heavy rainfall of about 20mm over the past week, according to weather experts.

For the past three days, the rainfall intensified, reading at more than 25mm, causing flash floods in and around Rustaq, which is located near the Al Hajar Mountains, according to Oman’s meteorology department at the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA).

“We have had heavy cloud build up over the Al Hajar Mountains over the past week,” said a meteorologist at PACA. “This is why there was a lot of rain and this became stronger over the weekend. The wadis were already filled because of the rain, and the extra rainfall that the Batinah region had over the weekend caused flash floods.

“Normally, our weather stations in the area pick up measurements of about 20mm of rainfall, but over the last few days, that has increased to more than 25mm and that is why this happened,” he added. “I would advise all residents to stay at home in case of such dangerous weather.”

Badar Al Baddaei, owner of a local weather monitoring station, Rathth Weather, has asked people to proceed with caution.

“This weekend, we had rain in many parts of Oman, including Rustaq, Yanqul, Ibri and plenty of areas in the Sharqiyah and Dakhiliyah governorates,” he told Times of Oman.

“Muscat also received plenty of rain in areas such as Al Amerat and Al Mawaleh.”

“The school has been very badly affected by the rains,” added Al Baddaei. “Fortunately there were no schoolchildren inside the building because it is now holiday time, so they were very lucky.

“School in Oman begins around Eid, but the roads were also very badly damaged so I would warn people who are looking to travel, and ask them to be careful because it is very dangerous outside,” he added.

Hilal Al Kharusi, the local council member for Al Awabi, had also been notified of the damage caused to the school. “I came to know of the damage to the school when it happened two days ago,” he said. “I have notified the Ministry of Education about this and their officials have come to inspect the damage to the school.”

Although the Sultanate’s PACDA did not receive a call, the authority still urged the public to use common sense. “Luckily the children were out of school, but we ask everyone to use caution when it comes to running water and wadis. Every time is rains, we say the same thing: don’t try crossing the water and wait for the water to die down,” they said.

Ali Al Barwani, the head of Oman’s Road Safety Association, also warned people to be wary of the conditions around them.

“In Oman we have a saying: if you have a fire, you can put it out with water, but if water causes problems, there are no solutions,” he said. “You cannot underestimate the power of water, because it can destroy everything in its path and that is just what has happened here.

“When the road was built, they would’ve constructed it to last for a certain amount of time before it needed maintenance, and they would’ve accounted for some amount of rainwater damage, but they rain that hit this road would’ve been a lot more than the usual amount,” added Al Abri.

“That is why I want to tell people not to be careless on the roads during such weather,” he advised. “If you don’t have to go out urgently, stay at home, because it is dangerous outside.”

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