Complex Made Simple

A killer cyclone claims victims in Iran, Oman, heads to UAE, Saudi

Leaving behind 9 dead between Iran and Oman and dozens of others injured, Cyclone Shaheen is headed to the UAE, particularly the Al Ain region, where schools are closed and authorities are on high alert

More than 2,700 people were put up in emergency shelters It is rare for cyclones to make their way through the Arabian Sea The storm threw up waves of up to 10 meters, and as much as 500 cm of rainfall fell

Leaving behind 9 dead between Iran and Oman and dozens of others injured, Cyclone Shaheen is headed to the UAE, particularly the Al Ain region, where schools are closed and authorities are on high alert, The National reports.

The cyclone battered large sections of Oman with winds reaching 120 kilometers per hour where more than 2,700 people were put up in emergency shelters.

Originally called Cyclone Gulab, a depression born in the Bay of Bengal on September 24, the storm strengthened when it reached the Arabian Sea becoming Cyclone Shaheen last Friday.

Fifty-two people were injured in Iran, with 6 dead and a handful of fishermen missing, before the brunt of the storm hit Oman on Sunday morning, flooding streets and coastal neighborhoods, and leaving the government with no choice but to declare a two-day national holiday on Sunday and Monday, urging residents to stay indoors.

The storm may reach 140 kph in parts of the UAE but is likely to have little to no effect as it passes across Saudi, where it would be expected to ease significantly.

Cyclone Shaheen is only the second tropical storm to make landfall through the Gulf of Oman, the previous one being back in 1890, when a tropical storm struck Muscat after entering the Gulf of Oman.

In May 2018, Cyclone Mekunu hit southern Oman and the Yemeni island of Socotra, killing at least 11 people.

Other cyclones have entered the region from the Arabian Sea, such as tropical storm Gonu in 2007. That was a category five tropical storm, stronger than Shaheen, and it caused billions of dollars of damage and killed 50 people in Oman.

It is rare for cyclones to make their way through the Arabian Sea, but as climate change worsens, sea temperatures have risen, making natural disasters like this more common.

Oman’s storm damage

Severe Cyclonic Storm Shaheen at its peak reaching 120 and 150 km per hour, became an active tropical cyclone late on Sunday delaying flights to and from Muscat.

As the cyclone approached, a child was killed after being wept away by water and two Asian workers were killed when a hill collapsed on their housing area in an industrial zone.

The storm threw up waves of up to 10 meters, and as much as 500 cm of rainfall fell in certain parts submerging vehicles.

A wooden ship sank at Sultan Qaboos Port and its crew was rescued, said the National Committee for Emergency Management in a tweet.

According to Al Jazeera’s weather specialist Jeff Harrington, one of the biggest threats the cyclone poses is that in Oman’s desert climate the “ground is bone dry, so it can’t absorb the rain”.

“The second part is this is a mountainous area, so that means the rain falls high above and it gushes so the combination of both of these would lead to the risk of high flooding,” said Harrington.

Oman, known for its rich heritage, and scenic coastline has already been hit hard by the fall in world crude prices since 2014 and the coronavirus pandemic. This cyclone only added insult to injury.