A strong and rare tropical cyclone, named Chapala, is heading towards the southern coasts of Oman and Yemen and is expected to make landfall on the eastern provinces of Hadramout and Shabwa in war-torn Yemen early Tuesday, the United Nations warned today.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the governorates of Shabwah and Hadhramaut have a combined population of about 1.8 million people, 1.4 million of whom are already considered in need of humanitarian support.
“OCHA and UN agencies are monitoring, planning and pre-positioning relief in preparation for the landfall of the storm,” UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
A press release from the UN Office for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) said that Chapala originated in the Indian Ocean on 28 October and intensified during the following days to Category 4, becoming the strongest tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean.
Additionally, the UN agency reports that the sea was very rough with a maximum wave height of 10 meters, heavy rains and very strong wind, measuring up to 170 km/hr and added that the Omani and Yemini Governments have issued warnings and urged residents to evacuate coastal areas as cyclone Chapala approaches.
According to the press release, Chapala has the potential to bring three or four times the average yearly rain in just a day or two over parts of eastern Yemen and southwest Oman.
However, UNISDR noted that tropical cyclones are extremely rare in the region and only a few have hit the Arabian Peninsula since reliable records started, the last of which was Keila, which struck Oman and Yemen in 2011.
UNISDR added that in 2008, a rare tropical cyclone brought devastating flooding to Yemen and killed at least 100 people, displaced an additional 20,000 in the south of the country and over affecting the livelihoods of over 50 per cent of the total population.
At the same time, it recalled that cyclone Gonu hit Oman in 2007, causing over 50 deaths.