After Chapala, Cyclone Megh hurtles towards Oman, Yemen

The deep depression churning in the Arabian Sea‎, mere days after Chapala unleashed its wrath, has now been upgraded to Tropical Cyclone Megh.

According to the Oman Meteorology, the cyclone currently lies approximately 1,120kms off Dhofar's coastline, with surface wind speeds reaching up to 85kmph.

The UAE’s Met office states the country will not be affected by this weather system.

Oman Met's latest update states the Cyclone is tracking westwards, with no direct impact on the country over the next three days.

According to forecasted models put forth by the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Centre and the Indian Met Department, Cyclone Megh's trajectory could once again put it on a path towards Yemen’s Socotra Island, before heading towards the Horn of Africa.

Socotra, which was battered by Cyclone Chapala with wind speeds hitting 250kmph and waves hitting heights of 33 feet, is yet to pick up the pieces of the devastation from Monday's onslaught.

Yemen’s port city of Al Mukalla, which has also seen heavy flooding this week, could also be affected by Cyclone Megh as it makes landfall early next week.

However, early forecasts indicate Megh will not be as intense as Chapala.

Freak storm

The UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Friday a new tropical cyclone is heading for Yemen three days after a storm dumped several years' worth of rain on the port city of Mukalla.

"As far as WMO is aware, it is unprecedented to have back-to-back cyclones in this part of the Arabian Gulf in the space of a week," the Geneva-based UN weather agency said in a statement.

The new storm is expected to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours with sustained winds of up to 100 kmh (62 mph). It will weaken from Sunday, becoming a mere low pressure area by the time it hits the Yemen coast around Tuesday bringing more rain.

In its path lies the remote island of Socotra, 380 km (238 miles) off Yemen in the Arabian Sea, where it may wreak havoc on the 50,000 residents and hundreds of the island's unique plant species, the second time in the space of a week they will have suffered.

More than a third of Socotra's population, 18,000 people, were displaced by Cyclone Chapala earlier this week, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement.

The freak back-to-back storms are caused by the "Indian Ocean dipole", a weather phenomenon similar to a regional El Nino, caused when surface sea temperatures are higher than normal.

Alasdair Hainsworth, head of Disaster Risk Reduction at the WMO, said the dipole should be at its maximum at the start of November, but it was still possible that there could be yet another cyclone after Megh.

"It's hard to say that that is necessarily going to occur, but certainly the conditions are there," he told Reuters.

"You'd think that it has just about run out of puff by now because the sun is moving rapidly south, but it does appear that the environment at the present time is highly conducive to these circulations."

Sea surface temperatures in the particular area of the Indian Ocean where the cyclones were occurring were between 1 and 2 degrees above average, he said.

"It's clearly enough to kick things off in a big way. So much of the atmosphere is on a knife edge."   


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