Severe Cyclone Gonu Prepares to Strike the Gulf of Oman

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

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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323. WPBHurricane05
12:07 PM EDT on June 05, 2007
Is there any cams or live coverages on the net over there in O-Man??
Link

WP they built a series of islands in the shape of a PALM in Dubai.


Ok now I get what you mean. Saw them building those on the Discovery Channel.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
322. TexasRiverRat
4:05 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
WP they built a series of islands in the shape of a PALM in Dubai.
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321. Patrap
11:04 AM CDT on June 05, 2007
Storm-Centered Water Vapor (Meteosat 7; CIMSS) GONU Link
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320. WPBHurricane05
12:04 PM EDT on June 05, 2007
I wander what that PALM TREE would look like after a Major Cane??

We have a few palm trees in my neighborhood. They seemed to do well during Frances (Cat 2), Jeanne (Cat 3), and Wilma (Cat 2).
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319. TexasRiverRat
4:04 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Is there any cams or live coverages on the net over there in O-Man??
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318. Patrap
11:02 AM CDT on June 05, 2007
GOM in the IR channel..Link
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317. WPBHurricane05
12:03 PM EDT on June 05, 2007
Is that the leftovers from Barbara in the BOC??

Barbra is long gone. Looks like some afternoon thunderstorms.
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316. TexasRiverRat
4:02 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
I wander what that PALM TREE would look like after a Major Cane??
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315. EllistonVA
3:57 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
expatmummy - good luck and keep us posted. The news here won't cover what's happening there the way they should, you'll probably be the only source of info we get until tomorrow.
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314. StormJunkie
4:00 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
TRR, and don't forget those crazy island projects they have going on....Looks like the forecast has it making a right turn though...
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313. TexasRiverRat
4:01 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Is that the leftovers from Barbara in the BOC??
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312. streamtracker
4:01 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Checked out the offical Oman news agency. They are reporting business and government closings, but no word of evacuations. The report has a certain lack of urgency that is troublesome.

http://www.omannews.com/english/indexE.htm

AFP (http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Thousands_evacuated_after_Oman_cycl_06042007.html)

Reports 7000 evacuated from coast. This seems low.

And Reuters reports that:

"Oman's official television station urged people to stay in their homes or go to buildings that could withstand strong winds, to avoid highways and to turn off electricity."

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/118105293477.htm

And more information about island evacuations at: http://www.omanobserver.com/
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311. Patrap
10:58 AM CDT on June 05, 2007
Meteosat 7 Water Vapor (Meteosat 7; CIMSS) GONU Link
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310. TexasRiverRat
3:58 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
I wonder if Gonu will make it over to Dubai? That is the worlds fastest growing City. With some monstrous structures being built.
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309. FloridaScuba
11:55 AM EDT on June 05, 2007
the bay of campeche is boiling on water vapor loop... and what is that thing coming off texas?

everything looks directed at fla. are the next few days estimated to be big rain days over fla??
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308. StormJunkie
3:53 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Afternoon all, hope everyone is well ☺

Can anyone tell me in a nutshell how the MJO effect development?

As for potential for development, imho, the shear is the key factor now. If and when the shear drops off we will see development shortly there after. I am not convinced the MJO will prevent development as shear does, but I am not real clear on the Madden Julian Oscillation cycle either.
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307. Patrap
10:56 AM CDT on June 05, 2007
its the MOJO rising..
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306. snotly
3:56 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
oops never mind. already there. thanks
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305. snotly
3:53 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Hurricane05 how much rainfall? for Gonu. got a graphic?
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303. lunabaas
3:51 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
I'm no forecaster, just a frequent lurker. So this is an innocnet question ;-)
I was looking at this loop of Gonu:
http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/visir/indian/visirjava02A.html

Can anyone tell me what that big exploding blob South of Gonu's all about? I can't remember seeing anything quite like that before next to a major cyclone. Looks weird to my inexperienced eyes.
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302. WPBHurricane05
11:53 AM EDT on June 05, 2007
NA
72 Hour Accumulated Rainfall
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301. WPBHurricane05
11:50 AM EDT on June 05, 2007
Other than Barry, it looks like the doctor's forecast was correct. We really shouldn't see any development for the rest of the month. Unless of course the MJO goes green out of nowhere.
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300. snotly
3:42 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Hurricane05 how much rainfall?
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299. weatherblog
3:47 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Posted By: 900MB at 3:45 PM GMT on June 05, 2007.

Seminoles-
I hear ya...low odds indeed. Only Ana in 1979 formed anywhere in the area in June. However, I think this year will go down as the year when things that usually don't happen do...already we had Barry out of Nowhere and a hurricane headed to the Persian Gulf...just going with this line of reasoning (if you call it that).


Not to mention Andrea so far in May. Also the two named storms in EPACIFIC in May.
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298. seminolesfan
3:46 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
900-Odd year so far indeed...

There are just too many factors going against development right now and prob for at least the next week or two.
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297. 900MB
3:40 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Seminoles-
I hear ya...low odds indeed. Only Ana in 1979 formed anywhere in the area in June. However, I think this year will go down as the year when things that usually don't happen do...already we had Barry out of Nowhere and a hurricane headed to the Persian Gulf...just going with this line of reasoning (if you call it that).
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296. seminolesfan
3:44 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
WPB-Yup...brown is down. :)
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295. groundman
3:43 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Thanks Seminolesfan and 05, that's what I wanted to know.
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294. seminolesfan
3:44 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
ttyl groundman
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293. groundman
3:39 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Posted By: seminolesfan at 3:38 PM GMT on June 05, 2007.
groundman-I think the fact that a HH plane even went into the the system that became Barry is evidence enough that people way smarter than you or I had a feeling that development was at least possible.

Yes @ that point I remembered half were saying what a waste of money, even I was thinking NOPE there is a reason and the reason is Barry looked like the enegizer bunny! gots to run errands, BBL.
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292. WPBHurricane05
11:39 AM EDT on June 05, 2007
And what is the MJO doing now?

MJO

If I'm correct, brown doesn't enhance development.
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291. seminolesfan
3:41 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
MJO link is in StormW's most recent blog.
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290. seminolesfan
3:38 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Also Barry was forcasted to be a significant rain for FL up to a week beforehand. Yes, I think it is safe to assume the writing was on the wall for Barry's possible formation.
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289. groundman
3:35 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Thanks Levi32, I know you all were saying it was possible and it looked possible to me to but I didn't know WHY. So if I can whine a little where is the link to MJO for idiots?? And what is the MJO doing now? Couldn't it help the African waves if they bumped up a bit N?
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288. Patrap
10:37 AM CDT on June 05, 2007
Its going to be a Long Nights journey into dawn over there.
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287. seminolesfan
3:35 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
groundman-I think the fact that a HH plane even went into the the system that became Barry is evidence enough that people way smarter than you or I had a feeling that development was at least possible.
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286. Patrap
10:35 AM CDT on June 05, 2007
Thanks for the info expatmummy. Good Luck..
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285. WPBHurricane05
11:33 AM EDT on June 05, 2007
NA

Gonu wind field. Looks like Muscat should get 1 minute sustained winds of around 17 and 32 m/s (3463 kt, 3973 mph, or 62117 km/h).
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283. groundman
3:32 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Posted By: expatmummy at 3:22 PM GMT on June 05, 2007.
Hi, just sitting here as it goes dark, 200 meters from the sea, in a northern district of Muscat, should I be that worried?


expatmummy I'm no forecaster but I know I put more faith in what these guys say than what comes across official channels so if they say you should be OK, you should be OK.
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282. expatmummy
3:28 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
They have put 7000 civil defense on alert, and there have been lots of warnings to go home and stay home, as far as I am aware they have evacuated the south tip, but because of the mountains and the fertility of the earth dry river beds are where Omanis have always lived! All the main construction sites have been closed down, but there are still 2 guys across the road from me putting the finshing touches to a roof terrace!
There are pictures on the local tv of people down by the sea wall in the old town having fun as the waves break over them.
I really don't think anyone knows what to expect, there are a few very blase expats still determined to complete their social comitments. I suppose we will wait and see.
We have had cloud cover building up all day, but no rain or wind yet.
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281. seminolesfan
3:26 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
900-Even if it was possible for development to occur N of Guyana, the current weak storm steering currents would drive the system over land very quickly.

Link

You are correct about the African waves; virtually 0 chance of development. However, your area of interest has nearly the same chances.
Sorry to dissapoint. lol
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280. Levi32
7:30 AM AKDT on June 05, 2007
Posted By: groundman at 7:30 AM AKDT on June 05, 2007.
Posted By: seminolesfan at 3:13 PM GMT on June 05, 2007.
Posted By: 900MB at 3:08 PM GMT on June 05, 2007.
Blob North of Guyana looks interesting...you heard it here first! It originated from an African tropical wave and has survived and now seems to have potential..it is in fertile territory...Thoughts?

Just some T-storms being enhanced due to their close proximity to the CentAtl TUTT.

Remember Barry?? There was NO WAY??? Going to be our battle cry this year. Wonder if someone MUCH smarter than I am could figure out what anomalies actually did allow Barry to develop so we can quit watching ALL the blobs?? LOL but serious too?


LOL! What are you talking about? Barry had every chance in this world of developing, as I and many others were voicing for a long time before development. If you want an 'anomaly' for the cause of Barry's development, then it was the MJO pulse that was coming through the area and was enhancing convection. That's what started all the little blobs we saw there before Barry.

As for the African wave, seminolesfan is correct, the convection is only being enhanced by proximity to the ITCZ and the TUTT. It is a tropical wave, but as the NHC says it is very weak and low-amplitute. Not to mention that all these waves are still way too far south to develop. We won't see African storms until July.
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279. WPBHurricane05
11:30 AM EDT on June 05, 2007
Hi, just sitting here as it goes dark, 200 meters from the sea, in a northern district of Muscat, should I be that worried?

Its nice to have a report from that area of the world. Most of us bloggers have been through a hurricane (including me) so we know what its like.
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278. groundman
3:27 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Posted By: seminolesfan at 3:13 PM GMT on June 05, 2007.
Posted By: 900MB at 3:08 PM GMT on June 05, 2007.
Blob North of Guyana looks interesting...you heard it here first! It originated from an African tropical wave and has survived and now seems to have potential..it is in fertile territory...Thoughts?

Just some T-storms being enhanced due to their close proximity to the CentAtl TUTT.


Remember Barry?? There was NO WAY??? Going to be our battle cry this year. Wonder if someone MUCH smarter than I am could figure out what anomalies actually did allow Barry to develop so we can quit watching ALL the blobs?? LOL but serious too?
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277. Patrap
10:24 AM CDT on June 05, 2007
Muscat,Oman wunderground.com page. Link We here with ya expatmummy. Stay with us thru the event if you can. Are the evacs there completed to your southeast?
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276. groundman
3:23 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Those poor poor people of Oman and Iran, I hope they did understand the danger and leave if they were able to. It was BAD BAD BAD here on the coast but the roads are in dry riverbeds over there?? NOT a good scenario.
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275. seminolesfan
3:23 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
IMHO, It seems like Muscat should escape the worst of the strong storm effects.

However, coastal interests on the SE Oman coast should take all precautions and move away from coastal areas.
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274. 900MB
3:22 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Seminoles Fan-
I hear ya, but sometimes t-storm flare-up lead to development. There is very little shear down there and SSTs are also favorable. I just think that the Guyana blob has alot better chance than anything coming off the African coast right now (too early).
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273. expatmummy
3:20 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Hi, just sitting here as it goes dark, 200 meters from the sea, in a northern district of Muscat, should I be that worried?
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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