In the two months prior to the onset of the Indian monsoon in early June, cyclones occasionally form in the North Indian Ocean. This year so far has seen the formation of two cyclones in the region – Sagar and Mekunu.
Cyclonic Storm Sagar formed in the entrance to the Gulf of Aden just over a week ago and unusually tracked along the length of the Gulf before eventually making landfall over Somalia, bringing heavy rain and flooding to northwestern parts of the country and neighbouring Djibouti.
No sooner had Sagar dissipated, another cyclonic storm developed and was named Mekunu. This cyclone formed some distance offshore in the Arabian Sea and has had several days to gather strength. Mekunu is now classified as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm and is equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane. Mekunu is currently expected to make landfall close to the city of Salalah in southern Oman overnight Friday into Saturday UK time. Winds near 100 mph and 250-500 mm rain are possible, which is likely to cause damage to buildings and flash flooding. This region has an annual average rainfall of just 100-150 mm.
Cyclones of the strength of Mekunu have made landfall over the Arabian Peninsula in the recent past. In 2015 Cyclone Chapala brought flash flooding as it came ashore over Yemen. Cyclone Phet brought strong winds and heavy rain to northern Oman when it made landfall in 2010. The strongest cyclone on record to make landfall over the Arabian Peninsula was Gonu in 2007. This cyclone hit the far northeastern tip of Oman with winds in excess of 100 mph.
Mekunu will be making landfall over the central part of the Arabian Peninsula close to the border between Oman and Yemen. The historical record reveals that strong cyclones over this part of the peninsula are relatively rare. The most recent strong cyclones to make landfall close to the city of Salalah occurred in 1963 and 1959. The former produced over 200 mm rain and caused severe sandstorms. The latter caused flooding and severe damage to buildings.
Official warnings for the latest tropical cyclones in the North Indian are issued 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.