Two days of rain have revived the roar of waterfalls in Salalah

As a tropical cyclone develops just offshore, it has been raining heavily for two days in southern Oman.

Two days of rain have renewed the waterfalls that only ever exist during this sort of weather in the Omani governate of Dhofar.

The crescent of inland cliffs that front the Dhofar Mountains that surround Salalah, and the flood plain beneath, are renowned for becoming green during the monsoon season that brings rain to India. Traditionally, camel herders graze their animals on the green flourish for the three months of continuous cloud cover and drizzle.

As of Saturday, the circulating cluster of thunderstorms now approaching Salalah has not been named and has not produced strong enough winds to warrant the category of a tropical storm.

It has, however, produced two days of continuous rain over Salalah and the surrounding area.

Some 260 millimetres of rainfall in two days have been reported, already causing flooding in the city but, more beautifully, filling the wadis and starting the significant water flow that dives off the cliff faces and is watched as a spectacle from the plains below.

The forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre is for this storm system to develop but wander without purpose during the next two days.

Without damaging winds, which are currently blowing at about 45 km/h (28 miles per hour), and the slow-moving nature of the system, extreme flooding is the biggest risk to the area. The eventual rainfall total may well be in excess of 500mm.

During both the onset and retreat of the Southwest Monsoon, cyclones are likely to form in the Arabian Sea. Two or three of these tropical spinners per advance or retreat of the monsoon are not uncommon. Some make landfall and a favoured area is southern Oman.

2015 was a particularly violent year with Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Chapala and then Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Megh hitting the island of Socotra in the north of Somalia, then southern Yemen. Chapala was the strongest tropical cyclone on record to hit Yemen. Megh was the worst tropical cyclone ever to hit Socotra.

For Salalah, Cyclone Mekunu has proved the most destructive. It became an Extremely Severe Cyclone before hitting the city on May 25, 2018. The wind speed was recorded at 200km/h (124mph) and Salalah was swamped with more than 617mm (24.3 inches) of rainfall, which is almost five times Salalah’s average rainfall.

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