In the Arabian Sea, a storm of epic proportions is brewing, and it’s forecasted to bring record rains to Yemen and Oman. A tropical cyclone called Chapala is strengthening rapidly, and experts predict it will bring eight years’ worth of rain to coastal areas of the two countries. The extremely rare storm is evidence of shifting weather trends stemming from rising global temperatures, and meteorologists warn that this won’t be the last record-breaking storm on the books.
The region is typically rather arid, with an average rainfall of just four to five inches per year. The tropical cyclone is expected to dump up to eight times that amount within a 48-hour period once it makes landfall. Cyclone Chapala only just formed on Wednesday and has grown in intensity at an alarming rate, and it’s expected to continue. According to Eric Holthaus, a U.S. meteorologist, the cyclone will likely graduate to hurricane status and could become a category 4 storm by Sunday.
Meteorologists predict the storm will make landfall on Monday near the Yemen/Oman border on the Arabian peninsula. In Oman, the city of Salalah—the country’s second largest city with about 200,000 people—is in the path of the storm and could sustain a storm surge of 15 feet or more. Although coastal flooding from a surge like that would make a significant impact, the rainfall is a bigger concern.
Tropical storms of this magnitude are rare in the region, and Cyclone Chapala could become the first hurricane-strength storm in recorded history to make landfall in Yemen. Weather experts expect to see more storms like this one, and more storms in relatively storm-free areas, as a direct result of climate change. Rising temperatures in the ocean provide optimal conditions for tropical storms and cyclones to develop faster and stronger than ever before.
Images via NASA