A cyclone developing in the Arabian Sea could develop into one the strongest ever recorded in the region, the Weather Channel reports.
Cyclone Chapala was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane and appears to be on track to reach Category 5 levels over the weekend. But the UN Climate Agency, the World Meteorological Organization, said the storm is likely to reach its peak intensity before it makes landfall in Yemen and Oman on Monday night.
"We do expect it will weaken before it makes landfall. It will probably be more on the lines of Category 1. But even so there will be very high gale force winds in an area that is just not used to seeing this," Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told Reuters.
The major threat to Yemen and Oman will be heavy downpours and possible severe flooding brought on by the storm, which could result in more than a year's worth of rain (around four inches for Oman, according to the Weather Channel) falling on the nations in just a few days. "The winds are a threat but we expect the biggest impact will be from the very, very, very serious rainfall," said Nullis.
Cyclone Chapala has formed a week after Hurricane Patricia approached Mexico's Pacific Coast before petering out into a tropical storm, and on the back of what's been a severe hurricane season at least in the Northern Hemisphere. The increase in tropical storm activity could be partly caused by the El Niño effect, which creates warmer ocean currents that tend to fuel the storms.
Cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons are similar weather events, but have different names depending on where they happen. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tells us: "In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term 'hurricane' is used. The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a 'typhoon' and 'cyclones' occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean."