Contingency planning underway as Oman braces for Cyclone Ashobaa

Contingency planning underway as Oman braces for Cyclone Ashobaa

Authorities have ordered some government schools closed on Thursday to serve as possible shelters should an evacuation of coastal towns and villages be ordered by the emergency services.



By (Staff Reporter)

Published: Wed 10 Jun 2015, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:08 PM

Courtesy: EU METSAT 2015

Muscat – Authorities in Oman went into disaster mitigation mode on Wednesday as Tropical Storm Ashobaa lumbered towards the Sultanate’s east coast threatening to unleash havoc across a large swathe of the country’s eastern flank.

Concern was focused on a wide coastal front stretching from Sur to Ras Al Hadd on the Sultanate’s South Al Sharqiya coast that meteorologists have warned lies smack in the path of the approaching storm. Towns and villages along this scenic and ecologically important stretch were among those that had borne the brunt of a succession of cyclones that had hit the Sultanate in recent years.

Taking no chances, authorities have ordered some government schools closed on Thursday to serve as possible shelters should an evacuation of coastal towns and villages be ordered by the emergency services. 

A statement by the Ministry of Education said the measure was precautionary in nature. Examinations scheduled for Grades X and XI students were ordered cancelled for the day as well.

In Muscat, the Health Ministry ordered the immediate closure of Al Nahdha Hospital, its tertiary ENT care institution, as a safeguard against potential flooding.  The hospital’s location in a low lying part of the city makes it prone to flash flooding even in less severe weather conditions. In previous flood events, patients had to be rescued by helicopter in dramatic evacuations that underscored the hospital’s acute vulnerability to flooding. In a memo circulated to healthcare staff, the hospital’s Executive Director said the facility would remain closed until the noon shift of Saturday, 13 June.  The memo ordered the referral of all emergency cases to Khoula Hospital, the city’s main tertiary care institution for trauma and other specialisations. Accident & Emergency personnel were asked to redeploy to Khoula Hospital for the duration of the closure, while other staff were instructed to temporarily relocate to the Royal Hospital, the capital’s healthcare flagship.

Meanwhile, strong winds and scattered showers offered inhabitants of coastal villages a foretaste of Ashobaa’s impending power early on Wednesday.  Reports of traffic disruption, caused by waterlogged streets, surfaced on social networks during the day. In Muscat, as indeed in other areas as well, outdoor contractors began mobilizing for the impending storm by moving construction equipment to safer ground and shoring up half-completed earthworks. 

Trucks and heavy vehicles parked alongside the courses of wadis were being moved to higher ground as well. In a respite from scorching heat that has dominated much of Oman over the past several weeks, Ashobaa’s menacing presence some 300km off Oman’s east coast helped ease daytime temperatures.

Skies remained overcast, while pleasant draughts were a welcome change from the swelter of summer. As is often the case when adverse weather is forecast, people began to stock up on essentials, chiefly drinking water, milk, bread, assorted foodstuff, batteries and torches. Supermarkets and groceries reported ramped up sales of these commodities.


More news from WORLD