Within the span of one week, two tropical cyclones barreled down on the Middle East.
Tropical Cyclone Sagar was the first to hit, making landfall in Somalia on May 19, 2018. On that day, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a natural-color image (above) of the storm. Maximum sustained winds reached 55 knots (65 miles or 100 kilometers per hour)—the equivalent of a tropical storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The storm delivered more than a year’s worth of rain to parts of the country, which has been coping with years of drought. According to Reliefweb, damage from Sagar’s floodwaters and wind displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
According to NOAA’s database of historical hurricane tracks, tropical cyclones are infrequent in this part of the Arabian Sea, and the region can go years without a storm. When they develop, they tend to occur in spring and autumn. It is less common for tropical cyclones to travel so far west into the Gulf of Aden. Check out this map to see the tracks of previous storms.
Days after Sagar made landfall, a second tropical cyclone barreled across the Arabian Sea. The second image, acquired by MODIS on NASA’s Terra satellite, shows Tropical Cyclone Mekunu on May 23, 2018. On that day, winds reached 65 knots (75 miles or 120 kilometers per hour)—the equivalent of a category 1 hurricane—and forecasters called for it to continue to strengthen.
Mekunu is not likely to travel as far west as Sagar. Instead, the storm is expected to move north-northwest and make landfall in Oman by about May 26.
NASA images by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Story by Kathryn Hansen.