- Storm is forecast to come ashore in Yemen by early Monday
- Chapala is the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane, U.S. Says
Tropical Cyclone Chapala will grow stronger as it crosses the Arabian Sea, possibly threatening shipping as it moves toward the Gulf of Aden and landfall in Yemen Monday, forecasters said.
The storm’s top winds were almost 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour, about 455 miles south-southeast of Masirah Island off the coast of Oman, the U.S. Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center said in an 11 a.m. New York time advisory. It was moving west-southwestward at about 7 mph toward the Gulf of Aden.
It may peak as a super cyclonic storm over the weekend before weakening just before landfall, the Indian Meteorological Department said. “It would move westwards, intensify further in the next 12 hours and cross Yemen and adjoining Oman coast around midnight of 2nd November,” the department said in a statement.
Chapala is forecast to bring rough seas, with waves of 23 feet (7 meters) or more in the coastal areas of Oman, the country’s Directorate General of Meteorology said in a statement. The storm’s track takes it close to shipping lanes near the Persian Gulf, as well as the Gulf of Aden, which leads to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Chapala could cause issues for shipping, according to the U.K. Met Office’s news blog.
Earlier this month, Hurricane Joaquin in the Atlantic sank the container ship El Faro with the loss of 33 people on board.
Chapala becomes the 23rd northern hemisphere storm to reach either Category 4 or 5 strength this year on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale used in the U.S. The previous record of 18 was set in 1997 and 2004. So far, 21 of this year’s storms have occurred in the Pacific.
Earlier today, Chapala’s top winds reached 155 mph before dropping to 150 mph, said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“This made Chapala the second-strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea, behind Category 5 Cyclone Gonu of 2007,” Masters said.
Late October and November are typically times when this area sees many cyclones, which are the local name for the class of storms that includes hurricanes and typhoons, said Dan Kottlowski, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
Kottlowski said dry air off the Arabian Peninsula will probably cause Chapala to weaken as it nears the coast.
“As they get closer they suck in the dry air,” Kottlowski said.
It will still be a dangerous storm as it comes ashore, the Indian Meteorological Department said.