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Weekly Weather Event -Week of October 3rd

October 8, 2021

In a notably rare path for tropical cyclones in the Indian Ocean, Cyclone Shaheen brought devastating rain and flooding to counties bordering the Gulf of Oman. Named after the Arabic word for falcon, the cyclone made landfall in Oman as a Category 1 equivalent storm on October 3. Many places received more than four years’ worth of rain in a single day, triggering both flash flooding and deadly landslides in a desert landscape not used to heavy rains. Iran also received heavy rains, and strong winds resulted in dust storms that hospitalized dozens. At least 14 people have died as a result of the cyclone.

Cyclone Shaheen began as Cyclone Gulab in the Bay of Bengal on September 24. Originally a low-pressure center, the system strengthened into a depression and then into a tropical cyclone where the India Meteorological Department (IMD) named it Gulab, or rose in Urdu. It made landfall in the state of Andhra Pradesh on September 26, weakening over land and emerging into the Arabian Sea on the 29th. While in the Arabian Sea, the system reorganized and strengthened back into a cyclone which the IMD renamed Shaheen.

It is rare for tropical cyclones to traverse the Arabian Sea. Oman was last impacted by a cyclone in 2007 with Cyclone Gonu, the strongest cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea. Iran, by contrast, had not been hit by a tropical cyclone since 1898. Climate change may make cyclones a more common occurrence in the Arabian sea as sea surface temperatures rise, proving more fuel for low-pressure systems to strengthen.