Cyclone Drops 10 Years Worth of Rain on Yemen

posted: 11/06/15
by: Patrick J. Kiger for Discovery News
Learn more about weather:

The conflict-ravaged nation of Yemen is still reeling after being battered by an unusually powerful tropical cyclone coming off the Arabian Sea -- one that could be a harbinger of more violent future storms in a part of the world that isn't accustomed to them.

Cyclone Chapala made landfall Tuesday and dumped an enormous amount of rainfall on Yemen's normally parched coastline -- by one account, the equivalent of 10 years' worth of normal precipitation in just two days. It was the most powerful storm since 1960 to hit the nation on the edge of the Arabian peninsula.

Cyclone Chapala
Read more Read less
At its peak, Cyclone Chapala was the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane.

NASA Earth Observatory reported that at its peak, Chapala's maximum sustained winds were 120 miles an hour, the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane.

Three people were killed during the storm, while thousands fled their homes in a nation that already has a massive refugee crisis.

In the provincial capital of Mukalla, where 300,000 people live under the rule of Al Qaeda fighters since government troops retreated in April, cars were submerged on flooded streets and families took refuge in a local hospital due to fear of landslides, Reuters reported. Houses and buildings were slammed by 80-mile-an-hour winds, according to Al-Jazeera America.

The World Health Organization stepped in to provide aid, including 20,000 liters of diesel fuel to keep generators supplying power to Yemen's hospitals.

As Yemen struggles to dig out from the devastation, there are worries that more such violent storms may be in its future. Traditionally, the Arabian Sea doesn't have that many tropical cyclones, and the ones it does have aren't as intense as storms other parts of the world see. That's because the region has had a strong wind shear -- that is, a difference in wind speeds at the top and the bottom of the troposphere.

Such a contrast can keep tropical cyclones from forming, or tear them apart before they can do much damage on land, according to NASA Earth Observatory.

However, over the past decade, the intensity of storms over the Arabian Sea has increased. A study published in Nature in 2011 attributed the change to an increase in emission of black carbon and other aerosols in the region. That pollution may be changing regional air circulation patterns to reduce the wind shear, scientists believe.

This article originally appeared on Discovery News


About the blog:
DSCOVRD: The best of the web, covering space, technology, wildlife and more!
More on