Mecca, located in Saudi Arabia and the holiest city in Islam, has been hit by severe storms and rain, which have hampered pilgrims, forced schools to close, and generated chaotic scenes.
Pilgrims doing the tawaf, which is the circumambulation of the Kaaba, were shown in videos uploaded to the internet on Tuesday. The pilgrims could be seen getting wet and slipping on the floor as torrential rains thrashed and moved items around.
Lightning strikes clock tower in Mecca. ⚡⚡ pic.twitter.com/L7vKuUv5iz
— Md Asif Khan (@imMAK02) August 23, 2023
On Tuesday night, as the rare events were happening at the giant black cube that all Muslims pray towards, another video showed a bolt of lightning hitting the famous Fairmont Makkah Clock Royal Tower hotel and lighting up the night sky.
A powerful thunderstorm hit the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca 👀 pic.twitter.com/6PrztRigAH
— HumanDilemma (@HumanDilemma_) August 23, 2023
The floods at street due to heavy rains in Mecca, Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦 (22.08.2023)
— Disaster News (@Top_Disaster) August 22, 2023
Hussain al-Qahtani, a spokeswoman for the National Centre for Meteorology, wrote on X, the social media site that used to be called Twitter, that the storm brought gale-force winds of more than 50 miles per hour.
🔴 الرياح الهابطة التي تأثرت بها #العاصمة_المقدسة تجاوزت سرعتها 80كم/س والكعكية تسجل أعلى كمية أمطار بمقدار 45 ملم، بينما تبقى فرص الأمطار متوسطة في مجملها، بمشيئة الله.#نحيطكم_بأجوائكم pic.twitter.com/CFTsjwdIrb
— المتحدث الرسمي للمركز الوطني للأرصاد (@spokespncm) August 22, 2023
Al-Qahtani said that 45 millimeters (1.8 inches) of rain fell in 24 hours in the al-Kakiyyah area of Mecca.
Videos on the Internet also showed that some parts of Mecca were a little bit flooded, causing people to take cover and stop their cars.
Conditions seemed to be the same as they were in 2015, when a storm brought down a crane at the Grand Mosque, also known as the Masjid al-Haram, the mosque that surrounds the Kaaba and killed more than 100 people and hurt hundreds more.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia said that Tuesday’s weather did not cause any deaths or other major problems.
Residents said that by Wednesday morning, most of the flash floods had stopped, but the situation could still turn out to be dangerous.
The weather center said that more storms would hit Mecca and other parts of western Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, bringing rain, wind, and thunder.