Understanding cyclone Mekunu

Muscat: Mekunu in Maldives is Beyah in Oman – the tropical cyclone brewing in the Arabian Sea is named after a fish – mullet.

All the countries which have coasts on the Northern Indian Ocean are part of the Regional Committee and they christen all the tropical storms that are formed in the Northern part of the Indian Ocean.  This region includes Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

The idea of naming the tropical storms is for archiving, research purpose for scientists and students of Meteorology, geography as well as climatic studies in addition to being part of climate data.  That brings up the question are we having more cyclones than before?

“We have two seasons of tropical systems one is pre-monsoon and the other is post monsoon.  The months of May and June are pre-monsoon for us while October and November are the post monsoon months.   Since last ten years we have experienced an increase in the intensity of cyclones.  In the past it was not the case.  While many experts speculate that the trend is a result of global warming leading to climate change, international meteorologists argue this is just part of the climate cycle,” explained Abdullah al Balushi, Meteorologist, Oman Met Office.

As for this tropical system, most of the global models agree that it will head toward Oman – Dhofar or Al Wusta, there are also models indicating the system might go to the coastal areas between Oman and Yemen.

“After all, this is a tropical system so whether it heads to these three places, the heavy rains and strong winds are going to bring in an impact on any of them,” pointed out Al Balushi.  In less than 24 hours the tropical storm is expected to be a fully-fledged tropical cyclone – category one that has already been named Mekunu.

In a tropical storm the wind is around 34 knots at the centre, where as tropical cyclone, the centre the strength of the wind goes up to 64 knots.  Some of the global models indicated that Mekunu could reach a category of tropical cyclone 2 while other models claimed it could reach category 3.

The landing of the cyclone is expected to bring in heavy rains accompanied by strong winds.  “People of coastal areas should be cautious.  The Numerical Weather Prediction forecast rainfall from 200 to 250 mm and maybe peak at 500 to 600 meters in some areas especially the mountainous areas.  The indirect impact of the system is expected by Thursday and this means before system reaches the mountains of Dhofar might receive rain.  The direct impact of the system can be expected by Friday morning.  Rainfall is expected to last for three days May 25th, 26th and 27th even if it is not continuous it could cover the whole of Dhofar governorate even Thumrait and the desert area in addition to Al Wusta governorate.

Fishermen and others have been advised not to venture into sea for a week starting from Thursday in the coastal areas of Dhofar and Al Wusta as well as South of Sharqiya.  The Sea waves are expected to be as high as five to eight meters with strong winds.