|Hurricane Chapala now |
You don't want a strong hurricane to hit any country. But you really don't want it to hit Yemen. War, a breakdown in government, violence, severe food shortages and other travails are now endemic in Yemen.
A hurricane isn't going to help matters.
On Friday, top winds reached 155 mph, making it a high end Category 4 storm, the second strongest anyone has seen in the Arabian sea.
Hurricanes don't happen all that often there. The sea is relatively small, surrounding desert lands entrain dry air to choke off impending systems, and strong upper level winds more often than not rip apart would-be hurricanes in the Arabian Sea.
This time, those strong upper level winds aren't present. Worse, water temperatures in the Arabian Sea are highest on record for this time of year. The higher the water temperature, the more likely a hurricane will grow stronger.
That's what happened last week with Hurricane Patricia off the coast of Mexico, which became the strongest hurricane on record in the Western Hemisphere due to record warm ocean temperatures beneath that storm.
If there is a plus side to this storm, it's that it will probably weaken somewhat by the time it reaches Yemen. Also, much like Patricia, and to a certain extent devastating Hurricane Joaquin in the Bahamas earlier this autumn, Hurricane Chapala doesn't really cover that big an area.
On Friday, Hurricane Chapala's width wouldn't even quite cover the distance between New York City and Buffalo, New York.
Even better, the hurricane is forecast to hit a lightly populated section of Yemen. That's in good measure what saved Mexico from Hurricane Pauline. The small hurricane threaded the needle between two large cities and hit a lightly populated spot, which definitely helped minimize casualties.
Still, Yemen has never been hit by a hurricane, and tremendous amounts of rain are forecast to hit parts of this normally arid desert country. Essentially they'll have about eight years worth of rain in a couple days.
Many people in Yemen live in areas prone to flooding from even a paltry thunderstorm. So this storm could really, REALLY become dangerous.
As if people in Yemen didn't have enough danger in their lives already.