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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Cyclone Mekunu and the UAE: everything you need to know

Powerful cyclone will not directly hit UAE but could bring thundery showers and winds

A screen grab of the projected path of Cyclone Mekunu over Yemen and Oman on Saturday. Courtesy Windy.com
A screen grab of the projected path of Cyclone Mekunu over Yemen and Oman on Saturday. Courtesy Windy.com

Forecasters in the UAE say a powerful cyclone that is churning towards the Omani coast could cause thundery downpours and windy conditions in the UAE by Saturday.

Cyclone Mekunu has already wreaked havoc in Socotra with flash floods swamping homes and deluging towns. Several people are missing and now it's headed for Salalah.

Projections show it barrelling into the Omani coast before losing strength and veering north-west in the opposite direction to the UAE.

But the NCM have cautioned that tail edges of Mekunu could bring thundery showers and winds to fringes of the country on Saturday and Sunday as water vapour in the air from the cyclone will be driven towards the UAE. Most affected will be eastern and southern parts such as Fujairah and Al Ain.

“The expectation is that it will continue into Sunday,” a NCM forecaster told The National.

“We are tracking the storm, monitoring and updating our projections all the time.”

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Read more:

Seventeen feared dead after Cyclone Mekunu hits Yemen's Socotra island

Tropical storm heads towards Arabian Peninsula

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Mekunu is currently a category 1 cyclone which can whip up winds of 153kph but it is expected to strengthen into a category 2 cyclone by Friday morning. A category 2 cyclone can reach wind speeds of up to 177kph.

Dubai authorities also said the impact of the cyclone will be minimal. But the weather change will be felt from Friday with a chance of mild to moderate rain in the emirate.

Iman Al Falasi of Dubai Municipality Geodetic and Marine Survey Section urged people to exercise caution - especially those travelling on the roads or who work at sea close to the Omani border.

“The Mekunu influence may increase on Saturday, with a chance for more clouds and the possibility for sporadic rainfall. The surface wind speed may be up to 30kph in some areas and the full impact of the cyclone will be finished by Sunday.”

Mekunu is approaching the Omani coast at about 10kph and is expected to make landfall at current projections early on Saturday. Landfall technically means when the eye of the storm hits land. But stronger winds sometimes hit ahead of this moment.

Winds are currently reaching between 140kph and 150kph an hour and could increase to 165 within the next 12 hours.

Forecasters at the NCM have also urged people not to believe false reports that claim the storm will directly hit the UAE.

“Don’t follow rumours,” the NCM said. “The NCM is official entity for these forecasts and the weather.”

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all tropical storms but are named differently depending on their location. Hurricanes form over the north Atlantic Ocean and northeast Pacific; typhoons over the northwest Pacific Ocean; and cyclones over the south Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Cyclones form only over warm waters near the equator. When warm moist air from the ocean rises, cooler air rushes in to replace it which then also warms and rises. This cycle causes huge storm clouds to form which in turn starts to rotate and morph into a cyclone.

Mekunu follows Tropical Cyclone Sagar, which developed in the Gulf of Aden earlier this month. It ravaged homes, led to flash floods and scores were killed.

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