There’s Another Cyclone off the Yemeni Coast. That’s Not Normal.
Unusual weather patterns spell more trouble for Yemen.
A virtually unprecedented meteorological phenomenon is unfolding in the Arabian Sea.
Just three days after Cyclone Chapala slammed into the Yemeni port city of Mukalla, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization reported Friday that another similar storm is headed for the war-torn nation. Storm watchers say the winds in this new cyclone, named Megh, will reach 62 miles an hour within the next 24 hours.
When Megh reaches the coast of Yemen on Sunday, it’s expected to be much weaker, thanks to shifting wind patterns that won’t pull air to the center of Megh as strongly as happened with Chapala. At worst, it’ll probably drench the coast heavily.
But on its way there, it’ll pass over Socotra, an isolated island with a very unique ecosystem located about 238 miles off the coast of Yemen. When it hits the island, Megh will be the equivalent of a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane, according to the Weather Channel. With that comes heavy rain, potential flash flooding, strong wind, and coastal flooding.
The trouble is, Socotra is still catching its breath following Chapala, which displaced 18,000 of its 50,000 inhabitants, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. According to local authorities, Chapala also destroyed 117 homes, while partially damaging an additional 612. An estimated 203 fishing boats were either destroyed or have been reported missing since the storm. The island is still recovering, and the possibility of another storm, even one no longer at full strength, is ominous. As of Friday morning, the eye of Cyclone Megh was some 400 miles east of Socotra.
The Chapala-Megh doubly whammy is happening now thanks to an El Niño-esque weather phenomenon known as the “Indian Ocean dipole,” where the temperature of the water surface is higher than normal.
How rare is it for two cyclones to emerge in this part of the Arabian Sea in such close proximity? According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, back-to-back cyclones within 200 nautical miles of Socotra have occurred within a week of each other only once before in recorded history, back in the fall of 1972.
Photo credit: SALEH AL-OBEIDI/AFP