Locals on Yemen’s beleaguered Socotra Island have taken emergency shelter for the second time in a week as yet another tropical cyclone tracks towards them packing potentially devastating winds and rain.
Cyclone Megh, which formed in the Arabian Sea earlier in the week, appears set to hit Socotra directly on Sunday morning as it travels west towards the Yemeni mainland.
It comes hot on the heels of Cyclone Chapala, which killed a number of people and caused widespread damage a week ago as it brushed past Socotra on a similar path from the Arabian Sea.
Al Jazeera weather presenter Rob McElwee said Megh could potentially bring as much, if not more, rain to Socotra than Chapala did a week ago.
The US Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) said Megh will be at its strongest just prior to hitting Socotra, with maximum sustained winds of about 175 km/h and gusts up to 212 km/h.
That would make it the equivalent of a Category 1 cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson scale, but any further strengthening would see it upgraded to a Category 2 storm.
More than 50,000 people in Yemen, including about 18,000 on Socotra, were displaced because of Chapala and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that many will continue to be affected as Megh bears down on the country.
“The new cyclone may bring heavy rain leading to further flash flooding, strong winds and storm surge affecting people already impacted by Cyclone Chapala on Socotra,” the OCHA said in a statement on Friday.
“The UN and partners will continue to move much needed assistance into the cyclone affected area to address urgent needs and will assess the need for further assistance.”
The new storm system is expected to dump large amounts of rain as it makes landfall, bringing with it the further threat of flooding and landslides in an area usually bereft of rain.
McElwee said it was extremely rare to see cyclones tracking into the Gulf of Aden and making landfall with Yemen.
“This would be the first season where two cyclones made landfall in Yemen as Category 1 or above,” he said.
After passing Socotra, the JTWC predicts that Megh will continue its path west, making landfall somewhere between Aden and Mukalla on Tuesday.