Extremely heavy rains, storms, lightning and thunderstorms paralyzed Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s main port city on the Red Sea, on Thursday and claimed at least two lives. Streets were flooded and cars were washed away by the water.
According to state media, the flooding has also led to delays at King Abdulaziz International Airport, school closures and a road closure to Mecca, Islam’s holiest city. The country’s civil defense called on the approximately four million residents of the city of Jeddah to stay at home.
The amount of precipitation in southern Jeddah between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Thursday was the highest ever recorded at 179 millimeters, according to Saudi Arabia’s National Center of Meteorology. It was bigger than that of 2009, when flooding in the city killed 123 people.
Schools temporarily closed
Photos posted to social media on Thursday (tweets below) showed cars swept through the streets of Jeddah, swept away by deluges of water. The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported early in the morning that schools in the city would be closed as rain had been forecast all day.
Schools also remained closed in the nearby towns of Rabigh and Khulais “to ensure the safety of students,” the SPA reports. British schools are currently in the middle of final exams. Nationally, however, they were already closed on Wednesday because King Salman had declared the day after Saudi Arabia’s sensational 2-1 victory over Argentina at the World Cup in Qatar a public holiday.