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Several Years' Worth of Rain Falls in Yemen from Chapala

By By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
November 06, 2015, 12:45:56 AM EST

Chapala lashed Yemen earlier this week with flooding, mudslides and damaging wind gusts. The storm will go down as one of the strongest cyclones on record in the Arabian Sea.

Before the storm made landfall on the Arabian Peninsula, it brought damaging winds and flooding to the island of Socotra on Sunday.

A Category 1 storm at landfall, Chapala was the most powerful cyclone to make landfall in Yemen on record though records are more limited in this part of the world than other tropical basins.


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At peak intensity, Tropical Cyclone Chapala (04A) was the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific Ocean on Friday, local time, making it one of the strongest cyclones on record in the Arabian Sea.

Compounding the life-threatening impacts of Chapala is that Yemen remains in turmoil due to ongoing conflict for control of the war-torn nation. This situation makes it harder to get advanced notice of life-threatening events to those who need it and limits the ability to disperse supplies needed following a natural disaster, making this ongoing situation even more dangerous.

According the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 36,000 people have been displaced in Yemen and at least 700 homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Early indications suggest three people were killed as a result of the storm, the U.N. also reported.

The storm produced rainfall amounts over 600 mm (nearly 24 inches) of rain in the hardest hit areas. In some areas, this amount was seven years' worth of rain in just 48 hours.

Estimated precipitation amounts from NASA satellites indicate that 250 mm (nearly 10 inches) of rain fell over parts of central Yemen in a 24-hour period from Monday to Tuesday.

"Chapala became the second strongest cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said. "The pressure of Chapala was 922 mb, close to the lowest pressure of Gonu, 920 mb, in 2007."

Nicholls added that the last cyclone to strike Yemen was Keila in 2011 and was equivalent to only a weak tropical storm.

"A strike on the Arabian coast by a major tropical cyclone is rare due to great amount of dry air that is drawn in from the Arabian Peninsula well ahead of the storm," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.


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On the heels of Chapala is Tropical Cyclone 05A that will follow closely in the footsteps of Chapala in terms of its track but not strength.

RELATED:
Oman Weather Center
Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclone Center
Yemen Weather Center

AccuWeather meteorologists will continue to monitor the Indian Basin, for threats to the region in the coming weeks.

AccuWeather Meteorologists Adam Douty and Brian Thompson contributed content to this story.

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