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Paul McLoughlin

Oman braces for the storm

Cyclone Gonu left a lasting impact on Oman [AFP]

Date of publication: 8 June, 2015

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Feature: Memories of Cyclone Gonu re-emerged as Omanis ready for a possible cyclone hitting their shores in five days.

A possible cyclone could be heading to Oman, according to meteorologists.

The depression in the eastern Arabian Sea has developed into a tropical cyclone and has been named Cyclone Ashobaa.

Oman's public authority for civil aviation said the storm is still 950km from Oman.

If it continues to build in strength then rain from Ashobaa could hit eastern Oman, and possibly the UAE, in five days.

Professor Mark Saunders, lead scientist and project manager at Tropical Storm Risk at University College London, said it is unlikely Muscat will witness hurricane strength winds.

Chances of tropical storm strength winds reaching Muscat are 20 percent, and only 1 percent for hurricane category one winds.

However, the directorate general of meteorology in Oman has issued an advisory warning for towns across the country, to expect thunderstorms.

Rain often causes heavy flooding due to poor drainage and low-lying wadis, or valleys, around many major cities.

A number of people have also been killed crossing wadis during wet weather.

Weather warning

Summer often sees storms developing in the Arabian Sea, and Oman has experienced serious cyclones in recent years.

Cyclone Phet landed there in June 2010, bringing heavy rain and hurricane-strength winds.

Masirah Island was evacuated, but the storm killed at least 24 people, and large parts of the country witnessed flash floods. Oil exports were also delayed for a few days.

A much larger storm was Cyclone Gonu, which hit Oman in 2007.

Omani authorities estimated the cyclone caused damages of over $4 billion and killed 49 people, although many suspect the real death toll was much higher.

Power cuts and water shortages followed.

The experience left a lasting impact on the country, and the possibility of storms often causes panic.

Omani social media has been abuzz with developments of the storm.

Water shortages in the capital have also caused concern among residents who have memories of the breakdown in water supplies during Gonu.

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