Cyclone Chapala Spinning Through Indian Ocean Towards Yemen

cyclone-chapala-to-yemen

The rapidly intensifying Cyclone Chapala is spinning westward through the northern Indian Ocean, challenging the strongest storm on record in the Arabian Sea, and threatening just the third hurricane-strength landfall on record for the Arabian Peninsula. Though the storm is expected to weaken before landfall, more than 20 inches of rain are in the forecast for the incredibly arid region.

Chapala formed as a tropical depression on Wednesday, and since then has quickly strengthened into a powerful cyclone. The storm rapidly intensified from wind speeds of 65 mph to 155 mph in just 24 hours from Thursday to Friday. Since then, the storm has weakened slightly to 150 mph, but remains the equivalent of a strong Category 4 hurricane.

Cyclone Chapala is only the first storm this year that has managed to reach hurricane-strength in the region. Though reliable satellite records over the northern Indian Ocean only go back to 1990, Chapala is the strongest storm in the Arabian sea since Super Cyclone Gonu in 2007, the only Category 5 storm on record in the basin. Gonu’s powerful winds maxed out at 165 mph.

The official forecast suggests Chapala will strengthen to Category 5 status on Friday, reaching wind speeds of at least 160 mph and eventually making landfall in Yemen — or possibly Oman — as a Category 1. But Chapala will have a lot to get through in order to reach that intensity — there’s a lot of dry air to overcome, and cyclones rarely maintain hurricane strength as they approach the very dry peninsula.

Even if Chapala weakens significantly over the weekend, it will still come ashore packing strong winds and high waves that the region is not necessarily accustomed to. More importantly, it will bring a significant amount of rain to an extremely arid region. Global forecast models are suggesting as much as 20 inches of rain could fall over Yemen, enhanced by the region’s mountainous coastline. According to the U.K. Met Office, this region typically gets less than 4 inches of rain per year.

The rapidly intensifying Cyclone Chapala is spinning westward through the northern Indian Ocean, challenging the strongest storm on record in the Arabian Sea, and threatening just the third hurricane-strength landfall on record for the Arabian Peninsula. Though the storm is expected to weaken before landfall, more than 20 inches of rain are in the forecast for the incredibly arid region.

Chapala formed as a tropical depression on Wednesday, and since then has quickly strengthened into a powerful cyclone. The storm rapidly intensified from wind speeds of 65 mph to 155 mph in just 24 hours from Thursday to Friday. Since then, the storm has weakened slightly to 150 mph, but remains the equivalent of a strong Category 4 hurricane.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Angela Fritz