Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A rare cyclone is expected to bring destructive wind and rain in the Arabian Peninsula. (Photo: CNN)

Yemen Braces for Devastation as Cyclone Chapala Nears

Cyclone expected to make landfall on Tuesday morning with record rain and hurricane-strength winds

Nadia Prupis

A rare and powerful cyclone tracking through the Arabian Peninsula is poised to make destructive landfall in Yemen on Tuesday morning.

Hours after devastating the nearby island archipelago of Socotra, where three were killed and more than 200 injured, Cyclone Chapala continues its rapid approach to the mainland, where meteorologists expect it will tear through the beleaguered region with record rainfall and hurricane-strength winds. It is also aiming to hit Oman, though fears of its impact there have diminished.

Global weather expert Dr. Mansour Al Mazroui told Gulf News on Monday that the cyclone may send a 400mm downpour onto the mainland in 24 hours—that's more than three years' worth of rain in a day, Al Mazroui said. As Weather Underground meteorologist Quincy Vagell explained on Sunday, such heavy rain increases the risks of "potentially catastrophic flooding."

On Twitter, updates on the storm came under the hashtag #CycloneChapala.

In the center of the bullseye is Al Mukalla, a Yemeni city with a population of about 300,000. Its seafront has already been destroyed by massive waves, according to reports from the ground. One resident, Mohammed Ba Zuhair, told Reuters that there has been no assistance yet from officials or the Al Qaeda chapter that partially controls the city.

"Many people have left their homes and are seeking refuge in schools," Ba Zuhair said. "No relief or aid efforts are under way by either the tribal council or al-Qaeda, and the situation is really bad."

Officials on Socotra also reported mass displacement and lack of humanitarian aid.

"Around 1,500 families have fled to the interior and to the mountains," said Mohammed Alarqbi of the Socotra Environment Office. "There's absolutely no help coming from the outside."

Waters in the Arabian Sea are currently experiencing record warmth, allowing for rare extreme weather events like this, explained scientists with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAA).

It is believed to be the most powerful storm to hit Yemen in decades.

"A comparatively weak tropical cyclone in 2008 impacted Yemen with heavy rain and thunderstorms, causing 180 deaths," Vagell wrote on Sunday. "Chapala is expected to be considerably stronger, as forecasts call for the storm to maintain hurricane-equivalent intensity at landfall."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'We Aren't Bluffing': Progressives Hold the Line as Pelosi Moves Ahead With Bipartisan Bill

"If we don't pass our agenda together—that's infrastructure AND paid leave, child care, climate action, and more—then we're leaving millions of working people behind."

Jake Johnson ·


160 Patient Advocates Demand Medicare Negotiation in Build Back Better Package

"We're confident that inclusion of comprehensive drug pricing reforms in the reconciliation package will lower prices, save lives, and ensure continued development of innovative new drugs."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Cartoonish Level Corrupt': As Dems Fight for Bold Agenda, Sinema to Fundraise With Its Corporate Opponents

"Sinema is setting her political future on fire," said one Democratic organizer. "If she doesn't change course drastically and soon, it will be too late."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Momentous Win': Years of Local Opposition Defeats PennEast Pipeline

Opponents in Pennsylvania and New Jersey cheer "cancellation of this unneeded, dangerous fracked gas pipeline."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amid Calls for Closure, House Dems Urge NYC Officials to End 'Inhumane Conditions' at Rikers

A dozen prisoners have died this year alone at the notoriously violent and overcrowded jail complex.

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo