Muscat: Omani citizens and expats in the country have been asked to follow safe driving practices, ahead of the heavy rain expected across many parts of the Sultanate this weekend.
Thundershowers are expected across Oman from Friday to Monday, and meteorologists and road safety experts in the country have asked people to avoid long journeys in the rain, unless absolutely necessary, so as to minimise the risk of accidents and potentially fatal collisions on the road.
As a result of the rain, roads could become far more slippery than people are accustomed to, wadis could overflow and strong winds and water flow could lead to rock slides in some parts of the nation.
While the beginning of the weekend will only see isolated showers, it is then expected to intensify into thundershowers, and even hailstones in some parts of the country. The latest weather charts show clouds across the northern and central parts of the country, ranging from Musandam in the north to Al Wusta in the central region.
“Starting from Friday, there is a chance that the weather will be cloudy, with cloudy skies over most of the Sultanate,” said an official from the Department of Meteorology at the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA).
“There is a chance of isolated rains, which will eventually lead to some thundershowers. These thundershowers will mostly affect the wadis, so those who are crossing the wadis must be careful because the water level will be high.
He added, “Some of the thundershowers will be associated with fresh wind as well, because there is a downdraft there. Eventually, some of the thundershowers will also be associated with hail. This will start from Musandam, all the way down to Al Wusta. The north of Al Wusta will also be included in the event. We can expect this for four days, from Friday to Monday.”
PACA also said that those who lived near mountainous areas needed to be wary of potential rock slides.
“There is also a chance of rock slides for people who live near the mountains, but we live in an arid area, so even with heavy rains, not many landslides and rock slides are expected,” said the PACA official. “There will be regular weather reports we will provide, and we will provide regular updates about this during the weekend as well.”
Suleiman Al Sulaimi, member of the Executive Committee of the Oman Road Safety Association, asked people to practice defensive driving and defer journeys during the weekend and beyond, unless they were absolutely necessary.
“If you don’t have to go urgently anywhere this weekend, then I ask you to postpone your journeys, because that way, you are directly contributing to less traffic on the road,” he said. “Those who haven’t had their vehicles properly serviced are the ones who will suffer more from the rain, because the water could enter parts of the vehicle and spoil the engines and other parts of the car. To those who are driving on the road, I would say please maintain a distance which allows you at least four seconds or even more to brake. Do not commit to sudden or harsh braking.
Al Sulaimi added, “Those who practice defensive driving are okay with being on the roads at this time, because they know how to drive, but to those who drive destructively, I would ask them to stay home because they don’t know the proper way of driving, and they are putting themselves and others in jeopardy. A lot of times, it is not just the cars and light vehicles, but the heavy vehicles that are also the cause of a lot of damage, because vehicles like water tankers, tipper lorries and cement mixers are often transporting materials from one place to another. If they skid and are heavy, then they could cause a lot of damage, so if you see a heavy vehicle, particularly one that is full, please maintain a safe distance.”
Al Sulaimi and ORSA had a warning especially for those who carelessly attempted to risk their lives by attempting to race across wadis, particularly when it wasn’t safe to do so.
“During such weather, a lot of people try to race across wadis, and in my opinion, there are two types of people in this context: those who know it is not safe to do so, and won’t do it, and those people who think it is okay to take such dangerous risks,” he revealed.
“This second group of people are mostly young people who think it is okay to drive this way because they have big four-wheel drive vehicles, but often when you enter a wadi, you can’t exit the same way you came, and then you are putting yourself, anyone who is with you, and your vehicle in danger. What do you do then?”
Al Sulaimi also added, “The rocks and the terrain in the wadis are very unpredictable, so this can spoil your vehicles and upset the centre of gravity, and unless you do not know how to get out of this or are an experienced driver, you are in grave danger, so please do not do such dangerous things. That is the message we have at ORSA.”