Cyclone Chapala brings flooding rains to Yemen

Our blog yesterday reported on the imminent landfall of Cyclone Chapala which was located in the Gulf of Aden. As expected the cyclone made landfall over Yemen in the early hours of Tuesday UK time. Winds averaged over one minute were estimated to be near 75 mph at landfall which is equivalent to a category 1 hurricane.

However, it is the rainfall which poses the biggest threat. The coastal strip of Yemen is usually very dry with approximately 50mm (2”) rain per year. Chapala is likely to produce 100-200mm widely and as much as 500mm in some locations. Although Chapala has weakened to a tropical storm it has become very slow-moving near the coast which increases the threat from heavy rainfall.

Cyclone Chapala at 0715 UTC on 03 November 2015 Image courtesy of NASA

Cyclone Chapala at 0715 UTC on 03 November 2015
Image courtesy of NASA

Observing stations are few and far between in this part of the world, but images and videos being posted in online media indicate that flooding is occurring in populated areas under the path of the cyclone such as the city of Al Mukalla.

The last time heavy rains from a tropical cyclone occurred in this region was 2008. This event caused much destruction and loss of life even though it was only classified as a tropical depression. Cyclone Chapala was a much stronger cyclone and thus has a much greater potential for disruption and damage.

Given the disruption caused by Cyclone Chapala, there is heightened interest in an area of disturbed weather developing to the west of India. This has the potential to develop into a tropical storm and latest forecasts suggest it will move west across the Arabian Sea. It is too early to be sure about the likely intensity and precise track of this disturbance, but it is being watched closely for further development.

Image of Arabian Sea at 1130 UTC on 03 November 2015 Image courtesy of US Naval Research Laboratory

Image of Arabian Sea at 1130 UTC on 03 November 2015
Image courtesy of US Naval Research Laboratory

Official warnings for the latest tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea are produced by the India Meteorological Department. The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of cyclone tracks from its global forecast model to regional meteorological centres worldwide, which are used along with guidance from other models in the production of forecasts and guidance. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.

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