Muscat: Cyclone Chapala is taking aim at the Arabian Peninsula and is forecast to strengthen into a Category 5 storm, with winds of up to 166 mph, and dump as much as eight times the annual rainfall of coastal regions of Yemen and Oman, according to global meteorological departments.
“It should approach Oman and Yemen at Category 2 or 3, late on Sunday or early Monday,” the meteorological departments said.
A Category 3 storm has winds of at least 111 mph.
"Chapala is on pace to become the strongest cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea," Accuweather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.
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 millimetres of rain a year.
"Tropical cyclones are an extreme rarity near the Arabian Peninsula," Holthaus said.
“Since reliable records begin in 1979, there have been only two hurricane-strength storms to make landfall in Oman, and the only storm to hit Yemen topped out with winds at a paltry 35 miles per hour [56 km/h], barely tropical storm strength,” Holthaus added.
The Weather Channel reports that there have only been two Category 4 equivalent Arabian Sea cyclones on record. Gonu in 2007 and Phet in 2010 both weakened before making landfall in northern Oman near the capital, Muscat.