Wednesday, November 25, 2015


So I woke up this morning to near-darkness. No sunlight peeking from the curtains, it was very dark. That meant it was either heavy clouds or raining. It wasn't until I went outside that I realized just how much it was raining. It was some of the heaviest rain I've seen in Qatar, which from a perspective of a wetter place like London or Vancouver was on the level of "grumbling that you have to go out in this to go to work" even though you have an umbrella, and kids would not be playing outside. But for a desert like Qatar it was really heavy rain.

So naturally the morning commute was bad. Normally I can get to the office in around 20 minutes but there were a lot of snarls and jams so it took me more like 35 minutes. The parking lot was like a small lake. But what I didn't realize at the time was that the chaos was a lot worse in the rest of the city. Dohanews kept live updates on its website: malls had to close due to leaking water, schools were closed, roads and commutes were hell (one colleague told me his commute was around 2 hours), and there was flooding all over the place. Crazy!

Here's a couple of pictures of some flooding in one neighbourhood, this was about six hours after the rain stopped.

Okay, that does look pretty bad, but it's not like Noah building an Ark right now.

In a city more used to rain it would not have caused such chaos. Unfortunately in Qatar such storms are rare, and while there is some drainage infrastructure it can't cope with a deluge. Heavy rains happens so rarely (maybe 0-2 times a year) I don't think it would be justified for Qatar to spend multi-billions to upgrade the drainage for the entire city, so we have to just deal with the odd wet and crazy day.

[update: Al Jazzera reported it was at least 66mm of rain. Qatar receives on average 50mm of rain a year!]

On the positive side all of the dust is out of the air, the air feels fresh and clean.


Anonymous said...

Do you remember December 2006 (the Asian Games)?

Glen McKay said...

Sure I do. Thankfully I didn't have tickets to the opening ceremony so I watched it on TV, thus missing the downpour. I did an internet search and apparently 25mm fell around the time of the opening ceremony. Yesterday we had 66mm, but some reports state the airport had up to 80mm.

Anonymous said...

Actually I was thinking of the entire month of December 2006, when it seemed to rain every day. It finally eased off in January and then we had no rain whatsoever for 10 months.