The cyclone first hit the remote Yemeni island of Socotra, killing three people and forcing thousands from their homes.
The eye of the cyclone later passed very near the mainland provincial capital of Mukalla, whose 300,000 residents have been under the control of al Qaeda militants since government forces withdrew last April.
Storm-surge tides reportedly inflicted significant damage to the coastal area around Mukalla, which was plunged into darkness after power was knocked out to the entire port city.
“Sea level has risen by 9 meters (30 feet) and has destroyed Mukalla's seafront,” resident Muhammed Ba Zuhair told Reuters.
“Many people have left their homes and are seeking refuge in schools. No relief or aid efforts are under way by either the tribal council or al Qaeda, and the situation is really bad.”
After skirting the Yemeni coast to the west of Mukalla, the cyclone passed almost directly over the country’s liquified natural gas terminal in Balhaf.
There was no word if the storm inflicted any damage to the terminal, which was once a lifeline for Yemen’s struggling economy.
Chapela then quickly weakened to tropical storm force as dry air and rough, parched terrain interacted with the cyclone’s circulation. But not before it is believed to have dumped more than a decade’s worth of rainfall to the desert landscape.
Cyclone Chapala Track
Satellite Loop Data: CIMSS