26 MAY, 2018
BY RICHARD DAVIES
After sweeping through the Yemen island of Socotra, Cyclone Mekunu made landfall in southern Oman as a Category 2 storm late on 25 May, 2018, battering the area with strong winds, storm surge and torrential rain. Almost 3 years’ worth of rain fell in 24 hours in the city of Salalah, with more rain expected.
The storm made landfall in Dhofar province, between the towns of Rasyut and Rakhyut, just west of Salalah.
Over 10,000 people had been evacuated, mainly in Salalah. Authorities urged residents to remain indoors. Oman civil defence (Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance – PACDA) said they carried out dozens of flood rescues. Salalah airport was closed.
Oman police said a young girl was killed as a result of wind damage and a man died when his car was swept away. Three other people have been reported injured.
High waves and torrential rain caused wide areas of flooding in Dhofar and Al Wusta governorates. Social media images showed torrents of flood water racing along the streets of Salalah. By early 26 May, Salalah had recorded 278.2 mm of rain. According to WMO figures, the city would normally see around 95 mm of rain in a whole year.
Oman Meteorology (PACA) said risk of flash flooding will remain as they warned of further heavy rain of between 200 and 400 mm in Dhofar and Al Wusta governorates over the next 36 hours. High waves and storm surge will continue to be a risk in Dhofar and al-Wusta coastal areas, with wave heights of 5 and 8 metres expected.
PACA said the cyclone has been downgraded to Category 1 since making landfall and predicted Mekunu to weaken further into a tropical storm.
It is likely that parts of mainland Yemen close to the border with Oman have also been affected by Mekunu. The storm had already caused devastation on the Yemen island of Socotra. As of early 26 May however, no information was available about Mekunu in mainland areas of the war-torn country.