Tropical Cyclone Shaheen ‘rare event’ say meteorologists

Muscat and several northern regions are bracing for high winds and flooding

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A cyclone expected to make landfall in Oman on Sunday, which has already led authorities to remove residents from low-lying and coastal areas, is only the second tropical storm in recorded history to make landfall through the Gulf of Oman.

A tropical storm struck the Muscat area after entering the Gulf of Oman in 1890.

Tropical Cyclone Shaheen will follow a similar path through the Indian Ocean, said Scott Duncan, a Scottish meteorologist.

Powerful cyclones such as 2007's tropical storm Gonu have made landfall in the country via the Arabian Sea, causing severe damage and loss of life through flash flooding, but Muscat, home to 1.7 million people, was spared serious damage despite suffering power cuts.

Writing for Yale Climate Connections, an information service raising public awareness about climate change, meteorologists Bob Henson and Jeff Masters agreed, calling the Gulf of Oman unknown territory for cyclones and highlighting the rarity of the event.

The meteorologists said Gonu, the last major cyclone to strike Oman, was a particularly powerful category five storm that caused $4 billion worth of damage and at least 50 deaths.

Gonu made landfall near Sur, about 200 kilometres south east of Muscat.

Shaheen is so far expected to be a category one storm on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale and the National Multi-Hazard Early Warning Centre at Oman’s Civil Aviation Authority said wind speeds of up to 150 kilometres per hour are expected.

In contrast, a category five storm has wind speeds up to 250kph.

Authorities are taking precautions and on Saturday the Omani National Committee for Emergency Management urged the relocation of residents in the northern towns of Barka and Saham and coastal areas including parts of the capital, Muscat, where Shaheen is forecast to strike.

Updated: October 03, 2021, 8:20 AM