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Tropical Storm “Mekunu” forms, landfall expected over Oman – Yemen border region

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Tropical Storm 02A, internationally known as Mekunu, formed May 22, 2018 over the Southwest Arabian Sea as the second named storm of the 2018 North Indian Ocean cyclone season. The cyclone is strengthening on its way toward the southwestern coast of Oman and eastern Yemen.

Heavy rain, strong winds, and a storm surge may affect several areas of Socotra Archipelago, northern Somalia, southeastern Yemen and southwestern Oman from May 22 to 27.

At 18:00 UTC on May 22, the center of the Cyclonic Storm "Mekunu" was located about 400 km (248 miles) southeast of Socotra Island (Socotra Archipelago, Yemen) and 780 km (485 miles) SSE of Salalah, Oman.

Tropical Storm "Mekunu" at 17:00 UTC on May 22, 2018. Credit: UW-CIMSS

The system was moving NNW at a speed of 12 km/h (7.4 mph) over the past 6 hours, according to RSMC New Delhi. Its maximum sustained surface wind speed was 65 km/h (40 mph), with gusts to 83 km/h (51 mph), and estimated central pressure about 998 hPa. 

Mekunu is very likely to intensify further into a Severe Cyclonic Storm during the next 24 hours and into a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm in subsequent 24 hours.

Tropical Storm 02A (Mekunu) JTWC forecast track at 15:00 UTC on May 22, 2018

It is very likely to move NNW and cross south Oman / southeast Yemen coasts as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm close to Salalah, Oman between 00:00 – 04:00 UTC on May 26, 2018.

Most global models suggest intensification of the cyclonic storm over the Southwest Arabian Sea into a Severe Cyclonic Storm during the next 24 hours and further intensification thereafter, RSMC New Delhi noted. There is also a consensus among models about NNW movement towards south Oman and southeast Yemen.

Tropical Storm Mekunu May 22, 2018

Tropical Storm "Mekunu" on May 22, 2018. Credit: NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP/VIIRS

Mekunu comes just 3 days after Tropical Storm "Sagar" left at least 19 people dead in Yemen, Somalia and Djibouti.

With maximum sustained winds of 93 km/h (58 mph), Sagar made landfall further west than any tropical cyclone since 1966 when record-keeping began for the North Indian Basin.

Authorities in Somalia called it the strongest to ever hit the country.

Featured image: Tropical Storm "Mekunu" on May 22, 2018. Credit: NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP/VIIRS

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