|Cyclones are infrequent for Oman and cause severe flooding for this arid country when they do arrive [AP]|
Tropical Cyclone Keila has left 6 dead as well as causing extensive flooding across Oman.
This past weekend, what began as a tropical disturbance in the Arabian Sea, slowly strengthened and moved toward the Omani coast. By Tuesday the disturbance was positioned just off shore. Heavy downpours from the storm’s outer bands could be felt from Salalah to Muscat and even into Iran, 950 kilometres to the northeast.
By Monday morning, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) had issued its first warning on Tropical Cyclone 3A, this being the third cyclone to form in the Arabian Sea this year.
There was some uncertainty on the forecasted track of the slow moving storm, but by Tuesday morning, the JTWC observed that Tropical Cyclone Keila had made landfall 88 kilometres northeast of Salalah.
Flash flooding due to heavy rainfall from Keila has proved deadly, with 6 people so far reported killed across the country. Around the capital city of Muscat one Omani was washed away when he tried to cross a flooded low lying area, while a woman and her child died when the vehicle they were traveling in was caught in a fast-moving current. Rising flood waters also caused rescue crews to evacuate patients from a hospital in Hamriyah.
This week’s rainfall accumulation from the cyclone has surpassed what the region would normally see in an entire year. Because rain is so sparse in this region, the local infrastructure and drainage system is not well equipped to handle so much rain in a very short period of time.
Oman is not immune to cyclones but will normally only be threatened by 1 storm a year on average. In 2010, Cyclone Phet brought massive flooding to the region while just skirting the coastline, while Cyclone Gonu was responsible for killing over 70 in 2007.