Recently, several countries have suffered from the unprecedented natural disasters, and Saudi Arabia is one of them. In particular, last November, Tabuk had to deal with flooding and snow. The city totally collapsed because of the mentioned extreme weather conditions that endangered its residents, animals, and plants. A heavy rainfall led to flooding of roads and transport issues. One should mention that due to the dominance of sandy deserts and hot tropical climate, the state has extremely difficult natural conditions. Hence, the recent hazards of both flooding and snow in the city complicated the already tough situation and forced people to suffer.
General Information about the Tabuk Region
Tabuk is a province in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, and the City of Tabuk, which is the capital of the region, has the same name. The territory is the most favorable for agriculture. The city itself borders on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its location, there is no exhausting and relentless heat in Tabuk. At the same time, precipitation here is higher than in other areas of Arabian Peninsula. Moreover, the mountains Ash-Shifa hide oases from sand storms; thus, it is a rather comfortable place to live. However, if one goes farther from the coast inland, they will notice that the terrain changes and transforms into a desert. Before Islamization, the caravan route crossed it leading from the Middle East to the southern part of the peninsula.
Currently, the capital itself is known for the traditional bazaars that gather people from all over the province. It is also a place where one can observe the cultivation of ornamental and medical plants. Moreover, in the Tabuk province, there are many architectural and archaeological sites that have remained mainly since the times of the Turkish rule.
Climate in Tabuk
The Arabian Peninsula is one of the places on the earth where it is very hot and dry. Admittedly, almost whole country does not have long rivers; they sometimes form after the intensive rains. However, the climate is not as simple as it may seem at first sight. Strong winds in summer often generate sand storms and result in cold weather in winter. Traditionally, there is no very cold or extreme weather in Saudi Arabia, and citizens are used to high temperatures that means that floods and snow are considered natural anomalies. People in the city of Tabuk like in any other town do not have central heating and even warm clothes. Actually, they do not need them because the country is known as a world-famous resort for tourists all the year round.
Surprisingly, a rare natural phenomenon was observed in Tabuk in November 2016 when heavy rains were replaced by snow showers. As a result, local sand dunes of yellow-brown color turned to grey and white. It is unclear what climate changes have led to such an accurence. In fact, scientists express concerns about the increasing number of the recorded unexplained natural cataclysms all over the world such as tornados in the United States, snow in Hawaii, and so on. Floods and snow in Tabuk can be included into the list of the mentioned above phenomena. The evidence suggests that they are not related to global warming. However, the increased frequency of such natural cataclysms threatens different regions all over the globe. To understand the reasons of the changes, the experts intend to conduct a number of additional researches.
The Consequences of Floods and Snow
Floods and snow are among the most dangerous natural phenomena. According to the number of victims and caused damage, floods occupy one of the first places among the other natural disasters. It is important to emphasize that it is a global problem, and they occur in almost all countries in all geographical zones; however, the instances of snow in such areas as Saudi Arabia are rather rare. Thus, the authorities seem to be totally unaware concerning the ways of how to combat snow. Despite the abundance of flood and snow-related research, there is not a detailed description of the phenomena that would include the analysis of the data from all over the globe. The only known attempt of this kind was the monograph Floods. Geographic Perspective. The study claims that the flood and snow have dual nature since they are, on the one hand, natural phenomena, and on the other hand, the socio-economic one as they cause socio-economic damage to the society. Therefore, it is important to compare natural and socio-economic parameters of the flood and snow in relation to the differences between regions and the levels of economic development.
Despite the fact that the genesis of the flooding and snowing is different, the principle cause of them is rain. Therefore, they have wide geographical distribution and are observed all the year-round across the globe. The socio-humanitarian and economic damage inflicted by the extreme natural conditions is uneven around the world, and they are not comparable with each other. Speaking about the territory of Saudi Arabia, there is a significant relationship between the two main parameters such as socio-economic damage caused by the floods and snow and the number of evacuees and loss in monetary terms. Thus, water is not only a vital fluid for humans, but it can also become a destructive element, which in a few hours can erase cities. Although seismologists are able to make an earthquake prediction, they cannot forecast flooding and snow at times. For this reason, flooding and heavy snow have become a tragedy for many countries.
The Analysis of the Issue
The rain showers and snowfall that one could observe recently in Tabuk were the most powerful in the last 30 years. The floods, caused by torrential rains, killed six people; a few individuals were injured, and two people are currently unaccounted. Helicopters, rescue boats, and divers were involved in their search. However, the authorities said that the list of victims was not full because the estimates of losses incurred as a result of the disasters had not begun yet. The Civil Defense Service of the Kingdom stated that the weather conditions were unsafe for the residents, and the latter should have avoided getting out of their homes.
Actually, November is a season of rains in Saudi Arabia. However, that time, the rainfall was so heavy that the authorities used special equipment for pumping and collecting rainwater. At the same time, a big amount of snow covered the city. In some northern provinces of the country, the temperature dropped to -3 degrees Celsius that is a rarity in this state. As a result, the authorities had to use sophisticated equipment for collecting snow.
Heavy rain and snow caused chaos in the capital. Schools and public institutions were closed because of the weather cataclysm. Furthermore, there were serious issues with the traffic since Arabs had no winter tires and hundreds of accidents took place on the roads of Tabuk. The photos and videos on the Internet showed how cars were floating on flooded roads. The turbulent flow of water demolished cars and hit a few dilapidated buildings. Hail mixed with mud flowed along the roads and streets. In addition, low temperatures affected some plants and animals, and a part of them could not survive the sudden drop in temperature. Weather forecasts remained disappointing because hurricanes, floods, and snowstorms continued for several days. Rainfalls affected thousands of the Tabuk’s residents. The Civil Defense Service increased the level of preparedness of its forces to the maximum.
Floods and heavy snow do not belong to the typical natural phenomena in the country, so there is no special department and scheme of actions created to cope with excess water and snow and reduce material damage to a minimum. As a rule, people do not appear to be ready for such disasters. Moreover, it is rather problematic to predict them as the existing forecasting methods are limited and require four or five days.
Nevertheless, there are some measures implemented to protect the state from the mentioned occurrences. For instance, engineering flood protection methods generally include the construction of water reservoirs, which are able to transform the floods. Furthermore, engineers often use barrier dams. Preventive measures also include a strict prohibition of the uncontrolled development of territories in the crisis areas. The authorities should consolidate to implement the Urban Planning Code that can be used to improve the plans of cities and towns that are at risk of suffering from flood or snow.
To sum up, the consequences of flood and snow in Tabuk adversely affect every resident of the city both physically and psychologically. Moreover, they result in a social and economic damage. Therefore, the authorities must take care of similar events in the future.
No country is immune from natural disasters, and flooding and snow that occur in Saudi Arabia in the Tabuk City are one of them. Although the state is familiar with rains in some parts of the year, people in a desert are not used to live in low temperatures and experience snow. Therefore, the recent events were a real collapse for the residents. Unusual weather conditions did harm to the local people as well as animals, and plants. Furthermore, heavy rainfall and snow adversely influenced the transportation system. Although, the residents of Tabuk are used to living in extremely difficult natural conditions, the recent flood and snow were a real challenge for them. Probably, it may happen repeatedly in the future, thus, they need protection from such natural phenomena.