Severe Cyclone Gonu Prepares to Strike the Gulf of Oman

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:34 AM GMT on June 05, 2007

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An unusual event is happening over the next 48 hours, as the first tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds, and major hurricane-force winds at that, is approaching the Gulf of Oman, to strike the eastern coast of Oman, curve northward, and make landfall on the coast of Iran. In the tropical cyclone best tracks and the modern era of weather satellites, there is no record of such an occurrence.

Today, Steve Gregory and I will be guest-hosting the blog, while Jeff is on vacation, to provide current information on Severe Cyclone Gonu. I'll provide some background on the areas that are currently forecast to be in the path of this dangerous cyclone, followed by Steve's Monday evening surge forecast and assessment based on the most recent JTWC track and intensity forecast, which currently calls for sustained winds of 115 kt when first passing near the coastline of Oman.

Updates during the day will be posted on my blog, The View From the Surface.

As I write this it is late in the evening in the central US, but the day has already begun in the Middle East. Distant cirrus from Gonu have already started to cloud the Gulf of Oman, and over the course of the day there, conditions will deteriorate along the eastern coast of Oman as the tropical cyclone approaches. Overnight, the core of Gonu will approach the tip of Oman, with the eye passing offshore just before dawn, and the bulk of the surge occuring along the eastern coast some time shortly before that. By midday the next day the worst of the storm will have passed the southernmost portion of the coast, and the core of the storm will be directly east of Muscat, the capital of Oman, home to over half a million people. Right now the forecast has the storm passing just offshore, but if the track shifts further east, the most damaging winds of the cyclone will remain over water. This will lessen the damage to Oman, but will likely result in a higher intensity when making landfall in Iran.

--Margie Kieper

* * * * * * *

Those who live along the Gulf of Mexico are well aware of what it means for a major hurricane to make landfall. Even if they've never experienced it themselves, they have relatives or members of their community who have experienced it. And in many places they can see the damage that remains.

Imagine that you live directly on the Gulf, but in a place where it hardly ever rains, and where a hurricane has never hit, for at least a generation -- for more than sixty years. Your community and many like yours are situated not only directly on the water, but near or in large dry riverbeds on the coastal plain, which is a narrow strip of sandy shoreline that is the dropoff for the three-thousand-foot mountain range behind it. Even many of the roads up into the mountains are in these dry riverbeds, which course through deep canyons as they rise into the heights. You don't have any idea what it might mean to experience winds of over 100 miles per hour, whipping up sand, and torrential rain against these mountains that can turn the riverbeds into conduits for dangerous flash floods. And you don't have any idea what storm surge is, and can't conceive of wind-driven high waves that could break against the shoreline and leave nothing behind.

This is the eastern coast of Oman, where communities line the shoreline which is shortly going to be experiencing a major hurricane. We can only hope that the danger is understood and that all of these communities have evacuated to higher ground and a safer location.

Below are two images of the city of Sur, showing how the community is built right along the water's edge:

Sur


closeup of Sur


The first image below shows one of the large winding dry riverbeds, and the second close-up shows a village built right where this riverbed empties into the gulf.

dry riverbed


community built in riverbed


These images show an industrial facility on the shoreline right at the tip of southeastern Oman, with an airstrip and a small community -- all of which could be gone in twenty-four hours, from surge, if the storm passes close to this area as currently forecast.

southeastern tip of Oman


closeup of southeastern tip of Oman


* * * * * * *

Steve Gregory's Monday Evening Forecast for Gonu

Severe Cyclone GONU in the Arabian Sea is currently heading NW at 14KTS (Faster than the JTWC Forecast) and is located 135NM SE of the eastern most 'tip' of Oman, and 180NM SE of Muscat. The storm is now a very strong CAT 4 - with an estimated pressure of 904mb, and wind gusts to 155Kts.

Based on imagery over the last 6 hours - the storm is under-going an Eyewall Replacement cycle, and so the first early morning VIS image (right) shows the eye is now covered with cirrus. As a new eyewall is developing (based on Micro-wave imagery) and will complete this cycle right about the time it gets to the Oman Gulf.

The track the storm takes as it nears the Oman coast is extremely critical in terms of intensity as it is entering the Gulf - and how severe the damage will be. There ocean heat content of the water on the SE FACING side of Oman is lower - and if the storm travels close to that location (as shown on the NAVY chart) the storm will likely weaken further during the day to a low end CAT 3, and then hit the Iran coast as a strong CAT 1 on Wednesday.

If the storm tracks 50-100NM NORTH of the coast as it enters the Gulf of Oman - though the water is shallower there, the SST's are very high (32degC) and with the storm further away from land, and over very warm water - it is likely to hold onto CAT 3 intensity for an additional 4-6 hours as it moves NW.

There is a large oil facility and large airport located right at the eastern 'tip' of Oman - and I counted at least 6 major 'ports' on Satellite imagery along the Oman coast up to 100 miles WNW of Muscat.

On the opposite side of the Gulf is the Iranian coast - with numerous 'cove inlets' each with loading docks and port facilities. At least 9 facilities I could count from the Iran/Pakistan border west to the area I show landfall (Magenta Arrow on the diagram below). Offshore platforms were also seen in a few locations.

Steve Gregory Gonu surge forecast


The Storm surge shown (10-15 ft) will almost certainly hit the Iran coast - even if the storm weakens to a strong CAT 2 late Tuesday (NY time). The Eastern tip of Oman will likely also experience 10-15 foot surge due to the close proximity of the storm track. Further up the Gulf, before reaching the Straits of Hormuz - storm surge heights of 1-4 feet are expected on the Oman side, and 4-possibly 6 feet on the Iranian side near the entrance to the Straits. Significant wave heights will be 20-30 feet, dropping to 15 feet near the Straits.

This is an unprecedented event. NO CYCLONE has ever entered the Gulf of Oman. And there are no custom 'storm surge' models available for that area. This forecast is based on my experience and subjective analysis of the seabed slope and storm surge interaction with the sea floor. Considering the region has never experienced a hurricane, let alone a strong one it is highly unlikely the loading facilities or platforms were constructed to withstand the forces - both wave action and wind force - that they will experience. Significant, damage will occur. How much long term damage, and the volumes associated with it - can not be determined at this time.

--Steve Gregory

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773. worrieddaughter
5:40 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Hi everybody
The worrieddaughter is no longer worried ;)
My father has called AT LAST :) He is absolutely fine, just that the communications have been cut, and power shutdown in SUR.. There is a litthle damage to the property, few uprooted trees.. The rainfall has subsided completely, so no worries :) I hope everyone in Muscat and SUR are fine.. Take care everybody.. Thanks a lot to everyone who has responded and have been providing latest details.
772. StormHype
5:00 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Ok. So when is Chantal expected to come ashore in SW Florida?
Member Since: May 31, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1204
771. HurricaneFCast
4:49 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
That "area of thunderstorms" is not going to develop in the GOM, Not with 50kt Wind Shear it's not. That's why the NAM is forecasting development in the Bahamas in 36hrs, not now. You can easily see the effects of the shear on the thunderstorms. Moisture is rising and condensing in the GOM, once it condenses and heat is released, the air gets lighter and the shear carries it inland. Please, This isn't tropical in the GOM.
Member Since: April 20, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 1482
770. worrieddaughter
4:47 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Guys, any news about people in Muscat and SUR... seems like communication with Muscat has also been cut off.. any latest information??
768. StormHype
4:45 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Gonu looks to be exploding convection-wise per sat image as it approaches Iran. Jihad! Yidiyidiyidiyidi!
Member Since: May 31, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1204
765. Patrap
4:35 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
GOM 4-panel WV ..Loop Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128668
764. TheCaneWhisperer
4:35 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
NEW BLOG
760. Patrap
4:23 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Another view Terra Visible ,eastern side of Gonu Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128668
759. Patrap
4:21 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
MODIS Terra visible true color. GONU Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128668
758. Patrap
4:20 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
MODIS Terra Enlargement GONU :recent Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128668
757. MTJax
4:19 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
...SRN STREAM UPR TROF OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE NAM IS TOO DRY ALONG THE IMMEDIATE GULF COAST AND STRETCHING
SWWD INTO THE WRN GULF OF MEXICO. 12Z RAOB DATA SUGGESTS THE NAM
INITIALIZED PWATS ARE UP TO 0.4 INCHES TOO LOW ACRS SRN LA. RAOB
DATA AND GOES-SOUNDER PW DATA SUGGESTS THE NAM IS UP TO 0.25 OF AN
INCH TOO LOW ACRS COASTAL AREAS OF SRN TX AND INTO THE ADJACENT
WRN GULF OF MEXICO. THE NAM ALSO APPEARS TOO WEAK AT H5 IN
DEPICTING A VORT MAXIMA OVER THE WRN GULF OF MEXICO...CENTERED IN
WV IMAGERY NR 25.5N AND 92.5W. THIS ENERGY IS INFLUENCING DEEP
CONVECTION OVER THE CTRL/ERN GULF OF MEXICO. IN ADDITION...GOES
HIGH DENSITY WIND PLOTS OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO SUGGEST A MORE
DIFFLUENT ENVIRONMENT
AROUND H3 THAN WHAT THE NAM HAS INITIALIZED.
THE CONVECTIVE V-SIGNATURE IN IR SAT IMAGERY SUPPORTS THIS
CONCLUSION.

THE NAM HAS TRENDED STRONGER WITH THIS ENERGY ACROSS THE GULF OF
MEXICO THRU 36 HRS AND THEN SUGGESTS POSSIBLE H5 CLSD LOW
DEVELOPMENT INVOF THE BAHAMAS
THEREAFTER VS A BROADER AND FLATTER
UPR TROF LIKE THE 00Z RUN HAD.

ORRISON


752. cajunkid
4:08 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Last night on Deadliest Catch they said that winds in the Bering Sea get up to 200kts often.

Is that true? anyone...
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1279
750. Patrap
4:00 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Short Video of Gonu ..Muscat Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128668
749. Inyo
3:59 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Posted By: quakeman55 at 3:54 PM GMT on June 06, 2007.
Posted By: fldoughboy at 3:45 PM GMT on June 06, 2007.

Has there been any tropical entities in the Gulf of Oman before?


I believe the consensus on that one is no.


In the last 100 years, no. That gulf has been there for tens of millions of years so I think it is safe to say that it has happened before, maybe it is just very rare, maybe it is a factor of changing climate regimes, who can say
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
747. quakeman55
3:54 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Posted By: fldoughboy at 3:45 PM GMT on June 06, 2007.

Has there been any tropical entities in the Gulf of Oman before?


I believe the consensus on that one is no.
Member Since: March 31, 2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 1276
746. Patrap
3:52 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
The efforts here do not go out in vain. Thanks for the update PRW. Best of Luck from us here.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128668
744. Patrap
3:51 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Posted in Margies blog a few minutes ago...



Posted By: PRW at 10:47 AM CDT on June 06, 2007.
A view from Muscat:
As of 1500Z 6 May, it appears that the winds seem to have a touch of Southwesterly. It has been raining consistently since last night. Winds observed along the northern beaches in the vicinity of Muscat were around 40kts just before mid-day, but seemed to build mid afternoon to something like minimal Cat 1 or less.

I have no access to equipment to confirm any of this, merely seaman's eye.

Reports are that Ras al Had was hit pretty hard. Storm surge noes not appear to be a major factor as of yet in this area (Qurum to Shatti). The real impact to the greater Muscat area is the inability of the terrain to handle even small amounts of rain. The ground is hard and rocky. Muscat lies between the mountains and the sea, only a few apart and the runoff fills the many wadis on its way to the Gulf. Some of the surface roads are merely paved across the wadis, while most of the main motorway is elevated above them. There are numerous places where roads are impassable - to the point where water levels crested jersey barrier median dividers. It will take several days, after the rain stops, for the run-off to subside and damage to the road infrastructure can be determined. Seeb Airport is also susceptible to flooding, so there is no guess when it may be back in operation.

Wunderground continues to be the most reliable source for information on this somewhat rare storm.

From Muscat,

pw
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128668
743. Inyo
3:50 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Looks like Gonu is having a burst of convection over that 90 degree water. It probably won't be enough to increase wind speed but I'll bet it means more flooding rains for Iran.

10 inches of rain in Florida sits on the ground and slowly soaks in. 10 inches of rain in the desert means intense flash flooding.
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
742. WPBHurricane05
3:48 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Nice rain at my house. I don't see a depression out of this one. There isn't a LLC.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
741. fldoughboy
3:45 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Has there been any tropical entities in the Gulf of Oman before?
737. TheCaneWhisperer
3:36 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Looks like Gonu is building the tops before landfall.
735. TheRingo
3:35 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
MJO is still lingering.

mjo
734. worrieddaughter
3:32 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Is there any update from people in Muscat or SUR... Please post messages if any latest news has been received from SUR..
733. hurricane23
3:31 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Posted By: quakeman55 at 11:26 AM EDT on June 06, 2007. (hide)
I just looked at the latest runs and they seem to be hinting at much relaxed shear entering the Gulf by about 5-6 days from now. Anyone else see that?

That would be correct as the Nogaps and the GFS are showing windshear dropping in the week or so.We'll see.

Here is the nogaps

fff
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
732. Patrap
3:30 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Storm-Centered Enhanced Infrared (Meteosat 7; CIMSS) Gonu Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128668
731. quakeman55
3:28 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Oh it looks like IKE is already on top of it. lol
Member Since: March 31, 2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 1276
730. hurricane23
3:27 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
This rain is very much welcomed across all parts across florida especially across the lake were much rain is still needed before that situation even begins to get better.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
729. quakeman55
3:26 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
I just looked at the latest runs and they seem to be hinting at much relaxed shear entering the Gulf by about 5-6 days from now. Anyone else see that?
Member Since: March 31, 2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 1276
728. Jedkins
3:24 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
actually as I just stated those storms look good for Florida but they are really doing nothing but bad, we would get a lot more rain over central Florida today if that junk would only just fall apart and stop spreading its thick upper cloud deck over central Florida.
727. moonlightcowboy
3:23 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Posted By: IKE at 3:18 PM GMT on June 06, 2007.
The GOM is suppose to become less hostile over the next 3 days according to the shear maps on WU....

THE SHEARS TOO HIGH...THE SHEARS TOO HIGH...THE SHEARS TOO HIGH...

OOPS! There's Barry!


....lol, I hear you, Ike! You could be right!!!

...Adrian, thanks for the update!
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
726. cajunkid
3:21 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
HF,
Dude, I wasn't hoping for anything. I'm not a wish-caster. I said you wouldn't think anything can form with shear so high. I just will not say I can't happen b/c that was all thrown out the window in 05. In light of all that...I agree, there is nothing but some good rain out there for FL.
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1279
725. IKE
3:21 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
I never said anything would form.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
724. Jedkins
3:20 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
Posted By: IKE at 3:18 PM GMT on June 06, 2007.

The GOM is suppose to become less hostile over the next 3 days according to the shear maps on WU....

THE SHEARS TOO HIGH...THE SHEARS TOO HIGH...THE SHEARS TOO HIGH...

OOPS! There's Barry!



That convection is going to die this will become nothing I can tell you right now nothing is coming out of this, its only doing bad for us Floridans today.
723. stampapaul
3:19 PM GMT on June 06, 2007
fcast and adrian...thanks for the responses....it appears that everything approach ing central Fl is drying up before it reaches land

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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