DUBAI: Cyclone Luban has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but the Oman Metrological Center warned that there could still be flash flooding in southeastern parts of the country.
Evacuations in Salalah and the surrounding area had begun in the previous two days as Luban had been expected to strengthen from a category 1 to category 2 cyclone, but on Saturday wind speeds had dropped to 40kmh.
“The storm has been downgraded, but we are still expecting between 100 to 200 mm of rainfall in southeastern Oman over the next 24 hours,” a Oman Met office spokesman explained.
He said there would likely be flashfloods in the wadis and that the winds would remain “very strong.”
There have already been evacuations in Sadah as the coastal town prepared itself for flooding. It is also likely that there will be some evacuation in Oman’s third largest city of Salalah.
“The winds are still strong enough to cause trees to fall and other structural damage, so there is a risk to life.”
He said low lying areas and wadis should be avoided because of the high risk of flash floods.
However he said the storm was moving west and is likely to make landfall in Yemen by Sunday morning.
Meanwhile a spokesman for the Civil Defense Sub-Committee in Dhofar confirmed to national daily, Times of Oman, that an evacuation had been issued for people living in eastern parts of the governorate.
“Citizens and residents in the eastern areas of the governorate should avoid low areas and move to highlands. Expectations of rising water levels in the coming hours due to heavy rains,” a notice from the authority said.
Schools and ports in the southern part of Oman were closed on Thursday while Yemen’s local authorities prepared health facilities ahead of the storm.
Health authorities in Yemen’s western province of Mahrah took precautionary measures and called on hospitals, medical staff and emergency services to be on alert.
In May Cyclone Mekunu left a trail of destruction as it 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.