DUBAI: The southern coastal cities of Oman and Yemen are bracing themselves for a battering as Tropical Storm Luban heads their way just months after Cyclone Mekunu left a path of destruction, killing 30 people and dozens more missing.
It is not clear what direction the storm will take, but if it hits Oman, forecasters say it will be as strong Cyclone Mekunu.
Both Oman’s and Yemen’s Meteorology centers have released warnings on the tropical storm heading towards the Arabian Peninsula.
Dubbed Luban, the storm is expected to become a category 1 Tropical Cyclone within the next 12 hours.
Luban is currently over the Arabian Sea about 830 km away from Salalah city, with surface wind speeds of 50 to 55 knots (93 to 102 kmph).
Oman’s Meteorology specialist, Hamood Al-Naabiya, told Arab News the coastal areas that would be affected will be the western coast of Dhofar governorate and the Gulf of Aden, passing north of UNESCO protected Socotra island.
Al-Naabiya said that once the speed of the winds exceeded 64 knots, Luban would be upgraded to a level one cyclone.
“This tropical storm seems to be heading towards the Gulf of Aden and if it does, the destructive effects will be less than the previous storm,” Al-Naabiya said, referencing Cyclone Mekunu.
“But if it came towards Oman, it will be similar to Cyclone Mekunu,” he added.In May Cyclone Mekunu ripped through the Yemeni island of Socotra, causing severe flooding, and extensive damage including six ships that sank - four at sea. Flood waters washed away thousands of animals and cut electricity and communication lines. Cyclone Mekunu then moved onto Salalah where whole areas of beach were washed a way, as were roads, power cables and properties damaged. At the end of the week Mekunu had left 30 people dead - including a 12-year-old girl in Oman, while dozens of others were missing.
Yemen’s Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority has said that Luban – which is moving at 11kmh - is expected to turn into a severe cyclone storm in the upcoming hours.
Warnings of severe sea winds have been issued to commercial ships in the area.
But despite the potential storm, Anwar Al-Shahri, a resident in Salalah who works in the hospitality industry said all remained calm in the tourist city.
“The weather is great, and tourists are still coming into the city, nothing has changed yet,” he said.
While James Hewitson, general manager of the five-star hotel Al-Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, told Arab News that although they were prepared, he did not think there was much to worry about.
“It will probably just be like a British summer's day,” he said.