Is ‘cloud seeding’ behind Dubai floods that wrecked TOKEN2049?

A major crypto conference in Dubai has been thrown into chaos after devastating storms saw an estimated two years’ worth of rainfall hit the city in just 24 hours.

For the past two days, TOKEN2049 attendees have flooded social media with alarming images and videos of waterlogged venues and submerged streets.

But alongside these updates (and the predictable PR efforts to reassure us that everything’s fine) the extreme weather has stoked internet chatter with a distinctly more conspiratorial bent; specifically around the topic of cloud seeding.

Cloud seeding is the practice of injecting various substances, including silver iodide, potassium iodide, dry ice, and table salt into the atmosphere to increase the amount of rainfall. Dubai has reportedly invested $20 million into cloud seeding research in an effort to counter the effects of being located on one of the driest continents in the world.

Read more: Dubai flood leaves TOKEN2049 conference goers feeling ‘liquidated’

Early reports from the likes of Bloomberg claimed that cloud seeding could have been responsible for the storms that trashed TOKEN2049. Indeed, Meteorologist Ahmed Habib told Bloomberg that Dubai’s National Center of Meteorology (NCM) sent seeding planes from Al Ain airport on Monday and Tuesday to take advantage of convective cloud formations. 

Predictably, this apparent confirmation of government-led weather tampering has led to countless theories and speculation springing up online. “We must #BanGeoEngineeringUK now,” wrote one X user, while another warned that “Cloud seeding gives an air of respectability to nefarious activities.”

UAE officials may have added fuel to the conspiracy theorists’ fires after they subsequently said that seeding actually took place on Sunday and Monday and denied conducting any seeding operations before or during the extreme weather event

Dubai denies cloud seeding before storm

Of course, as is so often the case in situations like this, the real answer may be significantly less interesting than some claim.

According to the NCM’s deputy director general, “One of the basic principles of cloud seeding is that you have to target clouds in its early stage before it rains, if you have a severe thunderstorm situation then it is too late to conduct any seeding operation.”

Climate specialist Jeff Berardelli also doubted the likelihood that the storm was caused by man-made cloud seeding. He said the storm’s primary cause was “due to a very blocked pattern and slow-moving southern jet stream with embedded disturbances.”

He added that the storm likely picked up dust en route to Dubai which he says is also a cloud seeder. Lastly, he noted that increasing temperatures have increased the amount of rainfall and that Dubai’s recent rainfall was double what is normally a 1-in-100-year weather event.

Dubai’s storm has grounded flights, caused residents to abandon their cars, and prompted government warnings to stay indoors.

Forecasts report that the weather will clear up for the rest of the week, but the storm is expected to last until late Wednesday.

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