Saudi Arabia Floods – Death Toll Rises

Further assessments carried out by the country’s civil defence have revealed that 12 people died in the floods that struck western, northern and central parts of Saudi Arabia on 17 November 2015.

Schools were closed and residents of affected areas in Jeddah were asked to remain indoors until the sever weather had passed. Other parts of Makkah region, and the regions of Medina, Ha’il and Tabuk were also affected.

Jeddah recorded 22 mm of rain on 17 November 2015. According to WMO, the total average rainfall for November in Jeddah is 23 mm.

In the wake of the flash floods in Jeddah on Tuesday, there has been some concern over the city’s infrastructure and it’s ability to cope with storm water run-off.

According to local media, Governor of Makkah Region, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, said that “initial reports indicated that some channels for rainwater disposal did not function because of defective maintenance and that some tunnels were filled with water because the machines that pump out water were not functioning because of lack of power”.

A flood defence project for east Jeddah, including a 7 metre high dam and 2 separate drainage canals of 730 metres and 3,000 metres, was announced in July 2013.

Meanwhile, Abdul Malik bin Abdulrahman Al-Asheikh, director of the Prince Sultan Institute for Environment, Water and Desert Research, has warned that the country’s dams do not have the capacity to hold a great deal of rainwater, which means that overflows are a major threat to citizens living in valleys and other low-lying areas.

Saudi Arabia’s Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) has forecast severe weather, including thunderstorms, strong winds and a significant drop in temperature for ‘Asir and Bahah, Jizan and other regions over the next few days.

Wadis and Flood Dangers

Safety patrols and rescue teams from the civil defence have been alerting residents in affected areas of the flood dangers of wadis.

Floods Saudi Arabia
Photo: Saudi Arabia Civil Defence

Wadis – the dry beds of seasonal rivers, regularly used as roads or situated next to roads – often provide one of the biggest danger in more remote and rural areas during times of heavy rain, as can be seen from the video clip below.