Countries in the Arabian Peninsula have been witnessing a surge in floods following tropical cyclones, especially within the last 12 years, that too, in a period of every one to two years. The result is that low-lying areas are inundated with water, and wadis, ravines or channels overflow and roads become flooded throwing normal life off the track.
Tropical cyclones also cause considerable loss of life and do immense damage to property that run into millions of dollars.
According to National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a tropical cyclone is the generic term for a low pressure system over tropical or sub-tropical waters.
Wikipedia calls it a tropical cyclone which is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure centre, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain.
This can be accompanied by an organised convection — a thunderstorm activity — and winds at low levels circulating either anti-clockwise in the northern hemisphere or clockwise in the southern hemisphere.
Due to advances in numerical weather prediction computer models, forecasting the initial development of tropical cyclones has improved greatly in recent years. In Oman, the intensity and regularity of tropical storms have reached an all-time high, causing widespread damage.
The last tropical cyclone with a hurricane-equivalent intensity to track near the Dhofar Governorate, according to NOAA’s historical database, was in May 1959.
A cyclone is the same as a hurricane or a typhoon; their names only change because of their location. Hurricanes are spawned east of the international dateline. Typhoons develop west of the line and are known as cyclones in the Indian Ocean and Australia.
According to a 2006 paper published by the Royal Meteorological Society, the 1959 cyclone collapsed buildings and lifted roofs off other buildings. The main road from Salalah to the nearby port of Raysut was “swept away by a raging torrent (of flood water) from the mountains.”
Cyclones in Oman
1- OMAN CYCLONE
The 1977 Oman cyclone was the deadliest tropical cyclone on record to strike Oman. The storm struck Masirah Island and later southern Oman on June 13, before dissipating the next day over Saudi Arabia.
The only Category 3 landfalls of record anywhere in Oman happened this century in northern Oman was Gonu in 2007 and Phet in 2010.
Gonu was considered the nation’s worst natural disaster. The cyclone dropped heavy rainfall near the eastern coastline, reaching up to 610 mm, which caused flooding and heavy damage. In Muscat, winds reached 100 km/h, leaving the capital city without power. Strong waves and heavy rainfall flooded streets and some buildings.
Cyclone Phet was a powerful tropical cyclone that made landfall on Oman. Phet developed in the Arabian Sea on May 31 to the west of India and dropped heavy rainfall.
The rains flooded arid areas and turned them into wadis. Thousands of homes were wrecked across Oman. There were 24 fatalities in the country.
Cyclonic Nilofar (the water lily) was, at the time, the third-strongest cyclone in the Arabian Sea. In late October 2014, it reached peak maximum sustained winds estimated between 205 km/h and 215 km/h.
In October 2015, Cyclone Chapala passed through the country to the southwest, sparing the feared impacts from the cyclone. But first it was expected to hit Salalah. All because of the wind direction change, the wind movement
of the cyclone moved towards Yemen.
Cyclone Luban comes at a time when the Sultanate was coming to terms with the devastation left behind by the cyclone Mekunu that tore through the Dhofar Governorate causing widespread flooding in southern areas.