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MENAFN - Arab News - 19/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab News) A leading astronomer in the Kingdom has dismissed reports about an impending flood in Makkah and Jeddah as mere baseless rumors.

"The rains will not reach dangerous proportions in places such as Makkah and Jeddah although there will be heavy downpour," said Dr. Ali bin Muhammad Al-Shukri, Professor of Physics at the King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals, emphatically denying the possibility of the rain reaching the 300 mm attributed to some weather forecasts abroad.

He added that rain-water drainage canals and flood courses in valleys could overflow but it would never become a flood. He also said the presence cumulous clouds is a common sight in the western and eastern provinces in the country during this season but they will not cause precipitation.

The Presidency for Meteorology and Environment Protection (PME) also did not support the foreign prediction. "It is the PME, which is equipped with weather radar and other latest installations in the Makkah province, satellite images and other data on weather developments, that will give accurate information about the weather developments here," spokesman of the PME Hussein Al-Qahtani said in a statement to Al-Madinah daily.

After predictions of heavy downpour in Jeddah reaching a record level of 300 mm in three days, people are worried and the Civil Defense is geared up to meet any emergency.

The city residents were relieved as no sign of rain was in the air on Saturday afternoon when the downpour was supposed to start falling according to the forecast.

"The preliminary estimation of the PME is that Jeddah is likely to have showers that will total between 20 to 30 mm from Saturday evening to Monday," Al-Qahtani said.

He added that the PME had earlier warned that the weather in the Kingdom is passing through a seasonal change and heavy rains and dust storms could occur in different parts of the country.
Signs of the approaching winter have already been noticed in the Eastern Province with a considerable fall in temperature.

The official said the PME never lagged behind any other establishment to issue weather warnings but it insisted on accuracy in its predictions. It is because a number of other government departments make their plans on the basis of the PME's predictions.

"Any wild guess without careful consideration of actual data will not be in the better interest of the people," he said.

Meanwhile the Civil Defense's operations room replied to 1,035 calls from the worried public about the thunderstorm that was expected between 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Brig. Turki Al-Qahtani, director of Civil Defense in Jeddah, said 32 teams are ready to undertake rescue operations around the clock, apart from setting up nine support centers for rescue operations in different parts of the city.
"We are working in collaboration with the PME, which keeps us updated on weather developments day and night," he said.

The Health Directorate is also ready to meet likely emergencies related to flashfloods, Director of Emergencies and Crisis Management at the directorate Dr. Muhammad Bajubair said.

All general and private hospitals in Jeddah are linked with hotlines to an emergency operations room in the health directorate.

Hospitals are prepared to face any eventuality while mobile medical teams have been prepared to go out if required. Preventive medicine plans have also been updated with the inclusion of psychiatrists and counseling experts, he said.

Director of Public Relations at the Jeddah Traffic Directorate Lt. Col. Zaid Al-Hamdi said his department's emergency plans to deal with heavy rains included teams to direct motorists to safe locations and roads and preventing vehicles heading for flood prone locations. Al-Hamdi also appealed to people not to go out under foul weather unless essential and to follow road safety instructions issued by the traffic directorate.


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