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JEDDAH: Intense rain on Wednesday triggered heavy flooding once again in Jeddah, causing traffic jams and power outages across the city and even sparking fires, including one at the popular Hera Mall.
Civil Defense teams managed to put out the mall fire and no deaths or injuries. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Power outages struck wide areas and cars were seen floating in many low-lying places. In one neighborhood, flash floods swept away a car, which then got stuck into a large open flood drain, causing water levels in the district to further rise.
Among the major thoroughfares that came under heavy flooding was Madinah Road, which leads to the airport. A massive traffic jam could be seen until the afternoon as rains continued.
Officials at the Jeddah Traffic Department said vehicles on the Haramain Expressway also came to a standstill as a result of huge flooding close to Palestine Street. There were also reports that traffic had stopped along King Abdul Aziz Road because of flooding. To avoid traffic jams, motorists were using minor roads in residential districts.
Concerned citizens reported a total absence of traffic police in streets and motorists were running red lights and driving in the wrong direction over pavements and central reservations. People also reported accidents on roads, adding that the situation was a total chaos.
The situation in districts located toward the east of the city, which were struck by deadly flash floods in 2009, was uncertain.
Residents of the Um Al-Khair and Al-Ajwad 1 and 2 districts reported heavy flooding. Seeing dark clouds and fearing heavy rain, many residents of the cityís Quwaizah district, which took the brunt of the flash floods that hit the city on Nov. 25, 2009, left their homes to live with friends and relatives in other parts of the city early Wednesday morning.
Mansour Al-Mazrouie, head of the meteorology department at King Abdulaziz University, said what Jeddah is presently witnessing is due to climate change. He added that the university recorded an unprecedented level of rainwater at 111 millimeters in three hours Wednesday morning.
On January 15, Al-Mazrouei said that Jeddah received 41.7mm of rainfall in four hours. The average amount of rain during the winter months (November to January) is about 51mm. Jeddah received 90mm of rain in the Nov. 25, 2009 flash floods that took at least 123 lives and damaged thousands of vehicles and homes.