Oct 30, 2015

Cyclone Chapala Threatens Yemen With Flooding Rains

Al Mukalla
Yemen
by
Andrea Thompson
,
WxShift
Cyclone Chapala spins over the Arabian Sea, headed towards a landfall in Yemen or Oman. Image: UW CIMSS
Cyclone Chapala spins over the Arabian Sea, headed towards a landfall in Yemen or Oman. Image: UW CIMSS

The Arabian Sea usually sees only one or two storms a year, according to a 2011 Journal of Climate study that surveyed the historical record there. Of those, not as many reach the intensities of those in more active basins, like the Pacific, even though the area has very warm waters, usually favorable to storm development.

A much weaker storm made landfall in Yemen in October 2008, causing widespread flooding that displaced some 22,000 people. That storm killed 180 people and caused $1 billion in damage.

“And now we are talking about a tropical cyclone that is slated to make landfall in a similar location, but with a far greater intensity and size,” Amato Evan, co-author of the 2011 study and an atmospheric scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said in an email. “Given the war happening there right now, this is just not good. At all.”

Some research has suggested that a recent increase in the intensity of Arabian Sea storms could be linked to changes in aerosol emissions from human activity, though “it would be impossible to attribute one particular storm to such slowly varying climate processes,” Evan, who has contributed to that research, said.