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Update: Strong winds in UAE topple crane, force cancellation of cycling event

ABU DHABI // Strong winds and blowing sand are wreaking havoc across the country, toppling over a crane, trees and forcing the cancellation of a number of major events.

“A crane has collapsed on Sheikh Zayed Road,” the Dubai Media Office tweeted just after 2:30pm. “Authorities are handling the situation to ensure safety of everyone on site. #Dubai”

Around the same time, the Dubai Tour announced it would cancel the fourth stage of the international cycling race due to weather conditions.

“The Race Management, in agreement with the Commissaires Panel, have applied the UCI’s Extreme Weather Protocol & cancelled today’s Stage 4,” the Dubai Tour tweeted.

Professional cyclists taking part in the competition expressed support for the decision to call off the race, citing safety as the main concern.

“4th stage #DubaiTour officially cancelled,” the Trek-Segafredo racing team tweeted Friday afternoon. “Joint decision from organization, riders, teams, sponsors. Safety first.”

German cyclist Marcel Kittel tweeted, “Good decision of @rcssport & UCI to cancel stage 4 of @dubaitour. It’s a real storm out here in Hatta & riders safety needs priority.”

Photos from the desert race posted on social media showed cyclists in a haze of sand whipping across the road.

Dubai Police also announced the closure of Global Village due to strong winds.

“Due to current bad weather conditions, and in order to ensure the safety of everyone, @GlobalVillageAE will not be operating today,” Dubai Police tweeted. “Doors will open back to welcome guests tomorrow, Saturday February 4 starting 4pm.”

Earlier in the day the National Center of Meteorology & Seismology issued a warning to motorists across the country, but particularly in the Dubai Al Maktoum International Airport area, to watch out for blowing sand and reduced visibility caused by strong winds blowing up to 5.

The unstable weather conditions also brought snow to the Jebel Jaismountain in Ras Al Khaimah overnight on Friday, as the temperature fell to minus 2.2 Celsius.

Videos posted by the National Centre of Meteorology & Seismology to its Twitter account showed blowing flurries over the UAE’s tallest mountain in the northern emirate. The NCMS also reported light rain over RAK.

The chance of scattered showers is also forecast for the north and east regions of the country today.

Strong winds are predicted to blow throughout the country, especially along the coast, where northwesterly winds ranging in speeds from 30 to 50kph may gust up to 65kph at times.

Rough and very rough sea conditions are expected in the Arabian Gulf and Oman sea at times.

Another fall in temperatures is expected over most of the country, according to the NCMS, with daytime highs reaching between 13 C and 18 C along the coast, 12 C to 17 C in the interior and 7 C to 12 C in the mountains.

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The National