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Saudi Arabia Sees Superblooms: The Desert Rains More Than In 1000 Years!

Portions of Saudi Arabia received upwards of 700% of the historical average of rain this winter, which transformed a typically barren, dry landscape into one that people have traveled more than 12 hours to witness. How you can create a catchment system cheaply... anywhere in the world!

Unusually heavy rain unleashed deadly flooding in western parts of Saudi Arabia this winter, and the above-average rainfall has brought new life to northern areas. The typically barren and dry landscapes of northern Saudi Arabia have been transformed with hues of purples and greens as a floral bloom gets underway. Sightseers from near and far have traveled to experience a beauty not often found in the desert.

Abdul Rahman al-Marri traveled more than 12 hours from his home in Qatar to view the spectacle.

"It is worth the journey," Marri told AFP in an interview. "It's magical. Beautiful scenery makes you feel you're in paradise. It's like a painting." A group of friends traveled nearly six hours to see and enjoy the flowers, saying the "smell and sight refreshes the soul."

"As you can see, the area here is covered in lavender. This is our camp, where we were joined by friends from Al Qassim and Riyadh. They all want to enjoy spring here," Muhammad al-Mutairi, a retired teacher, told AFP. "The beautiful scenery here fills you with energy."

Much like a superbloom in California, where the typically dry, barren landscape is transformed with colorful wildflowers after a wet winter, Saudi Arabia's floral bloom was fueled by the ample winter rainfall. Visitors have been greeted with mild weather. High temperatures have stayed in the upper 50s to mid-60s for the past week in Rafha, a town near the Saudi Arabia-Iraq border. Overnight temperatures have been slightly cooler than the historical average of 43 degrees F. Temperatures dropped as low as 34 degrees overnight the last few days.

People who traveled to the area pitched tents, cooked food and enjoyed the vibrant blossom. Residents have been keeping camels away from the site to keep the flowers around a bit longer.

According to AccuWeather forecasters, weather conditions will remain ideal for visitors. Temperatures will be mild during the day, reaching no higher than the mid-70s. Overnight temperatures are forecast to warm as well, only dropping to the upper 40s throughout next week. Although most of Saudi Arabia's terrain is desert, the kingdom is “greening” its landscape by introducing various new technologies, changing its farming practices, and increasing the amount of vegetation under the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) this weather will only increase the greening but not necessarily lower the extreme temperature events as typhoon season is extended across the Sahel and North Africa. If the greening is not fully supported by 2040, the entire Gulf region could face a 50 percent reduction in water availability per capita because the changes are speeding up, posing significant risks to food security and economic stability, as well as potentially sparking a rise in carbon emissions for Saudi Arabia as the country resorts much more to the energy-intensive desalinization ...

Can a desert turn green – and stay green? Can the world’s second-largest oil producer lead the fight against climate change? Saudi Arabia is saying yes to both. Abdullah al-Subeihi, is a conservationist and arborist from the country’s National Center for Vegetation Cover (NCVC), the government agency tasked with scaling up greening projects. “When it comes to forestation, action, not words, matter,” Mr. Subeihi says, admiring the budding red fruits of a 4-foot-tall jujube. “These stunning results are a great sign.”

With four decades’ experience in conservation, Mr. Subeihi is a human library of the trees, shrubs, and flowers native to Saudi Arabia. Squeezing branches, pinching fruits, and gently caressing healthy green leaves, Abu Brahim and Mr. Subeihi geek out over each tree and shrub like gearheads admiring a classic car.

Finally, we arrive at the secret to Abu Brahim’s success: a large rainwater catchment dam, one of 100 in this park. Completed in the summer of 2022, it consists of a series of low-lying stone walls that decrease in height like giant steps down into the valley floor. The design is intended to redirect and slow increasingly frequent winter floods to keep them from tearing up shrubs and saplings and to allow groundwater and aquifers to regenerate. This type of water redirection technology can be done inexpensively in countries all along the Sahel and employ a significant amount of the population for the price of one jet fighter thousand could be employed for decades in countries like Mali or Niger and build their infrastructure for agriculture as well!

When building catchment dams the catchment area is the total area of land that contributes runoff into the dam. For relatively small catchments it may be possible to determine their area from farm plans, aerial photos of the farm or by actually measuring it out on the ground with a vehicle or global positioning system (GPS). The land around your local dam is called 'the catchment' and it plays a crucial role in how quickly a dam fills as a result of 'inflows'; water that flows into the dam. Each catchment is different depending on the lay of the land. Mr. Subeihi builds miniature dam systems in areas prone to seasonal flooding using something that usually hurts farming to grow higher yields! Roughly speaking, 1 millimeter of rain over 1 square meter of roof equals 1 liter of water. This capacity can be calculated using the following formula: Annual rainfall (in millimeters) x Roof surface area (in square meters) = Roof catchment capacity. The total quantity of surface water that can be expected in a given period from a stream at the outlet of its catchment is known as yield of the catchment in that period.

Ideally, the ground should drop one inch for every one foot that you move away from the high point for the first 5-to-10 feet around . While this is not always possible, the ground should never be sloping upwards as you move away from your originating foundation.


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