A rare tropical cyclone is closing on the Arabian Peninsula. The Yemeni island of Socotra has already felt the storm. Chapala has caused widespread flooding, storm surges, heavy rains and strong winds. Houses have been destroyed and people are sheltering in makeshift shelters.
Socotra is an outpost of Yemen in the Arabian Sea. It lies 368 km off the mainland which is in the path of the storm.
Currently the storm is classed as a cat. four storm. Like Hurricane Patricia, it too has bumped up from a cat. three very quickly. It is expected to hit the port city of Mukalla, population 300 000 with about 500 mm of rain – equivalent to five years of rainfall in 24 hours.
Because much of the area in the path of the storm is very dry, the rainfall is likely to run off quickly, creating flash flooding.
Yemen is already in a humanitarian crisis due to its civil war. The combination of Saudi air strikes and back and forth of the two fighting groups has destroyed infrastructure and demolished many homes. Wounded people are unable to receive adequate medical help. Some are fleeing to Africa to avoid the fighting. Over half the population currently has no secure safe drinking water.
Prior to this catastrophic storm four out of five people in Yemen needed some form of humanitarian aid. Where the aid will come to help the people survive the storm damage is unknown.
Meteorologists have predicted more ‘superstorms’ in the future as the Earth’s climate warms. Climatologists have modelled many areas around the world that are vulnerable to large storm surges from these large storms. In August climatologists published work that pointed out that the Persian Gulf is vulnerable to storm surge from a tropical cyclone.
The Gulf Today
The Oman Daily Observer
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