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Dubai’s Extraordinary Flooding: Here’s What to Know

WorldDubai’s Extraordinary Flooding: Here’s What to Know

Scenes of flood-ravaged neighborhoods in one of the planet’s driest regions have stunned the world this week. Heavy rains in the United Arab Emirates and Oman submerged cars, clogged highways and killed at least 21 people. Flights out of Dubai’s airport, a major global hub, were severely disrupted.

The downpours weren’t a freak event — forecasters anticipated the storms several days out and issued warnings. But they were certainly unusual. Here’s what to know.

On average, the Arabian Peninsula receives a scant few inches of rain a year, although scientists have found that a sizable chunk of that precipitation falls in infrequent but severe bursts, not as periodic showers.

U.A.E. officials said the 24-hour rain total on Tuesday was the country’s largest since records there began in 1949. But parts of the nation had experienced an earlier round of thunderstorms just last month.

Oman, with its coastline on the Arabian Sea, is also vulnerable to tropical cyclones. Past storms there have brought torrential rain, powerful winds and mudslides, causing extensive damage.

Stronger storms are a key consequence of human-caused global warming. As the atmosphere gets hotter, it can hold more moisture, which can eventually make its way down to the earth as rain or snow.

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