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Torrential rainfall in parts of northwestern Somalia causes significant destruction

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Somalia
  • May 23, 2018
Torrential rainfall in parts of northwestern Somalia causes significant destruction

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  • Preface
  • Current Situation
  • About this Report
  • Partner


    According to both field information and satellite-derived rainfall estimates, rainfall was average or above average in most parts of the country between May 11 and 20. According to satellite-derived rainfall estimates (RFE2), 10-50 millimeters (mm) of rainfall were received in many areas of the country, with localized areas receiving up to 75 mm of rainfall (Figure 1). Rainfall totals were climatologically average in most areas, though 10 to 50 mm above average in various regions across Somalia. There were a few areas of exception where rainfall was around 50 mm below the short-term mean (Figure 2). Across coastal areas of northwestern Somalia, Cyclone Sagar drove heavy rainfall that resulted in flashfloods across Guban Pastoral livelihood zone of Awdal. Localized flooding was also reported in parts of Lower and Middle Shabelle, while several areas of Hiraan, Lower and Middle Shabelle, and Lower and Middle Juba remain flooded.  

    Current Situation

    In the Northwest, torrential rainfall driven by Cyclone Sagar caused widespread flooding across Guban Pastoral livelihood zone of Awdal, killing around 30 people and a significant number of livestock and destroying infrastructure in Lugahaya and Baki districts. Moderate to heavy rainfall was also reported in most livelihood zones of Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sool, and Sanaag. Rainfall in these regions was between 10 and 75 mm and provided welcomed relief following prolonged dryness and previous seasons of drought.   

    In the Northeast, moderate to heavy rainfall was received in Hawd and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones of northern Mudug and Nugaal, while light to moderate rainfall was recorded in Northern Inland Pastoral and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones of the same regions. In Bari, heavy rainfall and flooding was reported in parts of Alula, Iskushuban, and Qardho, resulting in livestock deaths and the closure of roads. Conversely, little to no rainfall was received in most parts of Alula, Bossaso, Bandarbeyla, and Iskushuban.

    In central regions, field reports indicated that most livelihood zones received moderate to heavy rainfall between May 11 and 20. Heavy rainfall was reported in parts of Central (cowpea) Agropastoral livelihood zone of Hobyo and damaged an estimated 80 hectares of cowpea crops and caused some livestock deaths. Despite these negative impacts, overall the rainfall has regenerated rangeland and replenished water sources, both of which are improving livestock body conditions and productivity.

    In the South, satellite-derived rainfall estimates and field information indicate moderate to heavy rainfall was received across most regions during the reporting period. However, field reports indicate that rainfall was only light to moderate in Hiraan and Bakool, and little to no rainfall was reported in Gedo. Rain gauge stations recorded 21-63 mm in Bay, 24-98 mm in Hiraan, 60 mm in Sakow of Middle Juba, and 25-51 mm in Lower Shabelle. Localized river floods were reported in Lower and Middle Shabelle and caused damage to some crops, and flashfloods occurred in agropastoral areas of Balad in Middle Shabelle. 

    The satellite-derived eMODIS Normalized Vegetation Index (NDVI) for May 11-20 shows continued above-average vegetation conditions in many areas of the country (Figure 3). With the heavy rainfall in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone, improved vegetation conditions are likely in the coming weeks. According to the Climate Prediction Center’s seven-day forecast, little to no rainfall is forecast across Somalia for May 24 to 30, with the exception of eastern parts of Lower Shabelle and Lower and Middle Juba where approximately 30 mm of rainfall are forecast (Figure 4).

    For more rain gauge data, please, contact or visit

    About this Report

    FEWS NET publishes a Seasonal Monitor for Somalia every 10 days (dekad) through the end of the current April to June Gu rainy season. The purpose of this document is to provide updated information on the progress of the Gu season to facilitate contingency and response planning. This Somalia Seasonal Monitor is valid through May 31, 2018 and is produced in collaboration with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) Somalia, the Somali Water and Land Information System (SWALIM), a number of other agencies, and several Somali nongovernmental organizations(NGOs).


    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Estimated rainfall (RFE2) in mm, May 11-20, 2018

    Source: NOAA CPC

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Estimated rainfall anomaly (RFE2) in mm from the 2005-2009 average, May 11-20, 2018

    Source: NOAA CPC

    Figure 3

    Figure 3. eModis Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly from the 2007-2016 median, May 11-20, 2018

    Source: NOAA CPC

    Figure 4

    Figure 4. Global Forecast System (GFS) rainfall forecast in mm for May 24-30, 2018

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    FEWS NET’s Seasonal Monitor reports are produced for Central America and the Caribbean, West Africa, East Africa, Central Asia, and Somalia every 10-to-30 days during the region’s respective rainy season(s). Seasonal Monitors report updates on weather events (e.g., rainfall patterns) and associated impacts on ground conditions (e.g., cropping conditions, pasture and water availability), as well as the short-term rainfall forecast. Find more remote sensing information here.

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