Weather agencies along and near the Indian Ocean are keeping an eye on a relatively rare tropical storm that’s expected to strengthen in the Gulf of Aden, with potential impacts for Horn of Africa nations including Djibouti and Somalia.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of India said early Thursday that the storm was about 430 kilometers east-northeast of Aden and 530 kilometers west-northwest of the richly biodiverse Socotra Islands.
“It is very likely to intensify further into a cyclonic storm during next twelve hours,” the NDMA said. The storm is expected to move west through Thursday and then turn to the west-southwest, with rough seas and winds forecast to reach 70 kmph in the Gulf of Aden.
Oman’s meteorology agency said the storm had no direct effects there as it headed toward Yemen and the Horn of Africa states. Yet it remains a concern because of the potential for heavy rains and flash flooding in populated regions facing ongoing humanitarian crisis and long-term drought conditions.
“Similar events in recent years in both Yemen (2008 Cyclone) and Somalia (2013 Cyclone) have led to hundreds of human fatalities, the large-scale loss of crops, livestock, and destruction of property and infrastructure,” the UK Met Office said. The storm is similar in severity to the 2013 storm, they added.
“Across Northern Somalia, 50-100mm of rain could fall widely, with peaks in excess of 250mm,” the British agency said. “This area usually receives little rainfall away from the Ogo Mountains.”
There’s still uncertainty about the direct track and timing of the storm, but it was headed for Djibouti and Somalia this weekend, according to the latest forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.