Tropical Cyclone Chapala Poised to Enter Gulf of Aden

Tropical Cyclone Chapala continued to move steadily westward on Sunday and it was poised to enter the Gulf of Aden.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Cyclone Chapala was located at latitude 13.2°N and longitude 52.2°E which put it about 230 miles (370 km) east-southeast of Al Mukalla, Yemen.  Chapala was moving toward the west at 12 m.p.h. (19 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 120 m.p.h. (195 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 959 mb.

Chapala is still a very well organized tropical cyclone and it is the equivalent of a major hurricane.  Chapala has a 25 mile (40 km) wide eye, which is surrounded by numerous thunderstorms.  Those storms are generating upper level divergence which is pumping out enough mass to balance the air flowing into the center near the surface.  The balance of inflow and outflow allowed Chapala to maintain its intensity on Sunday.

Tropical Cyclone Chapala is over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is around 28.5°C and the upper level winds are light.  There is little vertical wind shear and most environmental factors support the ability of Tropical Cyclone Chapala to maintain its intensity.  However, once Chapala enters the Gulf of Aden it will have very dry air to its north over the Arabian peninsula and dry air to its south over east Africa.  Chapala will remain a strong tropical cyclone as long as the dry air does not reach its core.  However, as Tropical Cyclone Chapala moves closer to the coast of Yemen, the drier air will probably cause it to start to weaken.

A ridge north of Chapala is steering the tropical cyclone toward the west.  Chapala will reach the western end of the ridge on Monday and the tropical cyclone will turn toward the northwest.  On its anticipated track Chapala will make landfall on the coast of Yemen near Al Mukalla in 24 to 30 hours.  It will bring strong winds and heavy rain to the coast.  Chapala is likely to dissipate quickly as it moves inland over the Arabian peninsula, but it could bring heavy rain and flash floods before it does so.