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Thunderstorms, flash flooding target Middle East

A slow-moving storm system will lead to flash flooding across the Middle East during much of this week. The threat for flooding will extend from Iraq and western Iran into Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

As low pressure slowly tracks from the western Mediterranean Sea towards the northern Persian Gulf this week, widespread thunderstorms will ignite across the region. Heavy rain will trigger flash flooding across several areas.

While rounds of rain and thunderstorms will be in progress early in the week, the most significant risk for flooding will last from Tuesday to Thursday. Many locations from Turkey to Saudi Arabia will have to be content with showers and thunderstorms, but two areas will have a heightened risk for flooding.

The first of these areas will stretch from Mecca, Saudi Arabia to Sana'a, Yemen. On Tuesday and Tuesday night, heavy thunderstorms will develop around Mecca, causing flash flooding in typically dry rivers and low-lying areas. Hail may also accompany stronger storms.

Flash flooding can occur with very little warning, so residents should be alert of their surroundings and never try to drive through flooded areas.

This area of flooding thunderstorms will advance to the south, reaching Sana'a by Thursday.

The second area that will be at an increased flood threat will be from Iraq into western Iran. Showers and thunderstorms will advance across this area on Monday and Tuesday bringing scattered areas of rainfall, but a relatively low flood threat.

As the low pressure nears from Wednesday into Thursday, the flood threat will increase in areas such as Baghdad and Basrah. Thunderstorms may quickly produce 25-50 mm (1-2 inches) of rain that will lead to flooding. In the mountains of western Iran, rainfall could reach 100 mm (4 inches).

Remaining to the south of the more significant rain, Oman and the United Arab Emirate will see isolated thunderstorms during the course of the week, most of which will develop during the afternoon and across the mountains. The flood threat will remain low in these areas, though residents will have to be alert for lightning and be prepared to move indoors. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike.

Due to the slow movement of the storm, scattered thunderstorms may continue to affect the region into late week or the weekend. However, as the low weakens, the threat for flooding should lessen during this time.