A camel-drawn water cart near Aden, in Yemen, a region usually very short of water. Photo: Brent StirtonA rare intense tropical cyclone has formed in the Arabian Seaand is forecast to dump eightyears of rain in about 48 hourson typically arid regions of the Arabian Peninsula.
Cyclone Chapala has already generated sustained winds of 95 knots(175 km/h), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre. It was also producing significant wave heights of more than seven metres.
Eric Holthaus, a US meteorologist, estimates the storm will dump as much as eight times the annual rainfall of coastal regions of Yemen and Oman. These regions typically collect just 100-130 millimetresof rain a year.
The projected path of Chapala indicates it will reach Yemen on Monday. Photo: Joint Typhoon Warning Centre
The port city ofSalahah,in Oman, may face acoastal storm surge of as much as 4.5metres, Mr Holthaus said, adding that it is likely to be heavy deluge and flooding that may pose the bigger threat.
“Tropical cyclones arean extreme raritynear the Arabian Peninsula,” Mr Holthaus said.”Since reliable records begin in 1979, there have been only two hurricane-strength storms to make landfall in Oman, andthe only stormto hit Yemen topped out with winds at a paltry 35 miles per hour[56 km/h], barely tropical storm strength.”
Cyclone Chapala is the latest in a year of extreme weather.
Vredendal in South Africa earlier this week set the hottest Octobertemperature recorded anywhere and in any yearwith 48.4 degrees, according Jeff Master of the Weather Underground blog.
Earlier this month, Hurricane Patricia intensified into the strongest tropical storm ever recorded in the western hemisphere in just a few days.
The Pacific Ocean has also seen an unusually large number of intense tropical cyclones this year, including Cyclone Racquel, the earliest large storm to form off Australia’s north-east coast.
Global temperatures are also tracking well above previous levels so far in 2015 as the powerful El Nino event in the Pacific adds to background warming from climate change.