(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Residents warming up to the pleasant weather were caught unawares by the dense fog on Wednesday which caused traffic snarls, road accidents and flight delays. More foggy days are in store and police have urged motorists to drive with caution in these conditions.
Airline schedules were affected at Dubai International Airport on Wednesday after both runways were closed for two hours as power to the fog landing system failed. Airport authorities said 50 flights were diverted to Al Ain, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Dammam, Muscat and Bahrain.
Dubai Police reported 141 traffic accidents in the morning, with the operations room receiving 1,323 calls.
Abu Dhabi Police said 50 people were injured in a collision between buses this morning near Ajban Bridge on Abu Dhabi-Dubai Highway. No fatalities were reported.
Colonel Hamad Nassir Al Balushi, Director, External Highways and Traffic, at the Abu Dhabi Traffic and Patrol Department, said they sustained minor to moderate injuries, and were rushed to nearby hospital. Some of the injured were treated on the spot by police mobile hospital personnel and paramedics.
A Dubai Airports spokesperson said the closures at the Dubai International runways were caused by the ''loss of power to a critical runway backup system required during foggy conditions". The runways were shut down at 6.54am, but reopened at 8.30am.
Dubai Airports said it was working with airlines, air traffic and ground services staff to clear the backlog and limit incovenience to passengers.
"As further flight delays are anticipated as a result of the disruption, passengers are advised to check with their airlines or airline websites for further information on flight arrival and departure time," it said.
When contacted, the Middle East's largest carrier, Emirates, confirmed its flights were affected by the fog. "Emirates flights have wbeen diverted today due to weather conditions. Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused. The safety of its passengers and crew is of paramount importance."
Another Dubai-based carrier flydubai asked passengers to check in on time. ''We are continuing to monitor the weather conditions in Dubai . We apologise for the inconvenience the adverse weather conditions may have caused to travel schedules. Further updates will available on the website during the course of the day,'' it said.
Indian celebrity food guru Pooja Makhija had her flight diverted to Bahrain. She later tweeted, "Hello Dubai!! Landed in at last after being diverted to Bahrain due the fog. Airport was a chaos. But nonetheless LoveDubai."
Commuters ran into long lines of vehicles and the tailbacks extended for several kilometres. The fog slowed down traffic considerably and many commuters were put to greater hardship during the morning rush hour.
Some drivers like Hamda Al Hashemi claimed there was zero visibility on the roads.
The weather cheered some road users like Fariha Osmani, a HR professional who, however, complained of the crawling traffic. "So it's been an unusual morning in Dubai! All that fog has cheered some of us up while let others down due to traffic!," she tweeted.
Brigadier Omer Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi of the Dubai Police cautioned drivers and asked them to keep a safe distance and reduce speed. "Windows of vehicles should be kept clean and drivers must ensure their head lamps are working," he said.
He stressed the importance of using headlights during the early morning hours. When minor accidents take place and there are no injuries, drivers should not use the hazard lights, he said.
Drivers are also urged to listen to weather reports before heading out to work at dawn.
Meanwhile, the weatherman has forecast more fog over some areas on Thursday and into the weekend. "The relative humidity will increase over some costal and internal areas during night and early morning with a chance of fog over some of these areas," said the National Center for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS).
It predicted relatively hot weather over internal areas during daytime, and said mild conditions would persist over mountainous areas at night. Some clouds may appear over eastern areas by the afternoon.
Temperatures have fallen across the country over the past week, with coastal regions experiencing highs of 32 degree Celsius and lows of 22 degree Celsius. The minimum temperature has dipped to 18 degree Celsius in the mountainous regions of the country.