By Roy Mabasa
The Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah has called on Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia to take precautionary measures ahead of a powerful cyclone that made a landfall in the western region of the Kingdom last night.
“We would like to advise our Kababayans in the Western Region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, especially those residing in Najran and nearby areas, to prepare for torrential rains, possible flashfloods and decreased visibility as tropical cyclone Mekunu makes landfall in some parts of the Kingdom tonight,” Consul General Edgar Badajos said in an advisory issued over the weekend.
Quoting the Saudi General Authority of Meteorology and Environment Protection (GAMEP), Badajos said authorities had predicted heavy rains for some parts of the Kingdom from Saturday, May 26, until Tuesday, 29 May.
Earlier reports said the rain would be accompanied by winds that could exceed 170 kilometers per hour.
Cyclone Mekunu made a landfall in Saudi Arabia last night after battering neighboring Oman.
Badajos said GAMEP also predicts the rain will be accompanied by active wind and dust leading to a lack of horizontal visibility in Najran, especially in Al Kharkhir area.
It added that dust brought about by the winds is also expected to reduce visibility over Tabuk, Madinah, Makkah, Sharqiyah and Riyadh. Rainy clouds are further expected over Jizan, Asir and Al Baha region.
There are an estimated 8,000 Filipinos in Najran; 15,000 in Johann; and 13,000 in Khamis Mushayt, the consulate official said.
Saudi forecasters had previously said the cyclone would be downgraded into a tropical storm, with heavy rain predicted for parts of Saudi Arabia until next Tuesday.