May 23 (UPI) -- Cyclone Mekunu is intensifying to hurricane-level strength in the Arabian Sea and is expected to hit Oman and Yemen later this week, forecasters said Wednesday.
The storm is classified as a cyclonic storm, but is predicted to become the equivalent of a Category 2 or Category 3 hurricane. Wednesday, it hit the archipelago of Socotra in the Guardafui Channel, an oceanic strait off the tip of the Horn of Africa, with severe wind gusts.
The storm is expected to hits wind speeds of 74 mph late Wednesday and get stronger as it arrives in southern Oman and southeastern Yemen.
Omani meteorologists predict rain, wind and waves up to 25 feet. Landfall is expected at the border between Oman and Yemen on Friday afternoon.
Oman's Public Authority for Civil Aviation assured the public it's monitoring the storm and will issue updates as it progresses.
Oman's defense ministry said it evacuated residents in the Hallaniyat Islands, which might be directly impacted by the cyclone.
"The Royal Air Force of Oman carried out a number of flights today in support of the efforts by all the government security agencies," the ministry said.
The storm follows Cyclone Sugar, which hit nearby Somalia last week. Parts of the west Africa nation might also be hit by Cyclone Mekunu, forecasters said.