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In early May, risk of flooding remained high along the Juba and Shabelle rivers

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Somalia
  • May 14, 2020
In early May, risk of flooding remained high along the Juba and Shabelle rivers

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    Moderate to heavy Gu rainfall continued to fall across most of southern and central Somalia during the period of May 1-10, according to field reports. CHIRPS preliminary data corroborated rainfall in these areas ranged from 10 to 75 millimeters (mm) (Figure 1). Although CHIRPS preliminary data reported that rainfall in the Northwest ranged from 10 to 50 mm, field reports suggest rainfall was more localized in moderate to light amounts. In this area, Guban Pastoral livelihood zone received the least amount of rainfall. In the Northeast, most areas received only light rainfall amounting to less than 10 mm, though localized areas of Hawd Pastoral and Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zones of Nugaal and Mudug received recorded moderate rainfall up to 25 mm. According to remote sensing data, rainfall amounts were climatologically average for northern regions, average to above average in central regions, and average to below average in southern regions (Figure 2).  According to FAO SWALIM river station gauge data as of May 11, the Juba and Shabelle river levels remain very high from heavy rainfall in late April and continued heavy rain in the Ethiopian highlands in early May. The river water level at Beledweyne was near bankfull, which is well above the high flood risk level. The river water level at Jowhar of Middle Shabelle and Dolow and Bardhere of Gedo were at or above the high flood risk level. Although flood reports were less severe in the May 1-10 period compared to the April 21-30 period, humanitarian actors estimate that around 115,000 people have been displaced in Beledweyne and an additional 140,000 have been affected.


    In the Northwest, most livelihood zones in Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sool and Sanaag regions received reduced precipitation during the period of May 1-10 compared to the moderate to heavy rain that occurred in late April. Most areas received localized rainfall of moderate to light intensity. However, Guban Pastoral livelihood zone of Lughaya (Awdal) and Berbera (Woqooyi Galbeed) districts and eastern parts of Sool received little to no rain. While the rain continued to sustain above-normal water and pasture availability, flash floods were reported in a few localized areas of Badhan and Erigabo districts of Sanaag region, resulting in some housing and cash crop damages. However, remote sensing imagery observed localized below-normal pasture in parts of Sool region.

    In the Northeast, the rains largely subsided in most livelihood zones of Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug regions during the May 1-10 period, following moderate to heavy precipitations recorded across most livelihood zones in the last 10 days of April. In Bari, little to no rainfall was recorded in most pastoral livelihood zones although localized areas of Northern Inland Pastoral (NIP) (Qardho, Bossaso, and Iskushuban districts) received light to moderate rain. In Nugaal and northern Mudug, most areas including NIP, Addun Pastoral, and coastal areas received light rain. However, Hawd Pastoral zone neighboring Ethiopia received moderate rainfall. Overall, pasture and water conditions in Bari are below average to average, while condition in Nugaal and southern Mudug are average to above average due to pasture good rains.

    In central regions, rains of moderate to heavy intensity with widespread distribution fell in all livelihood zones of the region in the May 1-10 period. While most areas received heavy rains, Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone of Dhusamareb district of Galgduud and Coastal Deeh Pastoral and Fishing livelihood zone of Hobyo district of southern Mudug received relatively moderate rain. Heavy precipitation caused severe floods in some areas, including the Xaar Xaar camp for internally displaced persons in Ba’aad Weyn village of Galkayo district, which caused property damage and displaced people. However, the rains were beneficial for pasture, browse, and water availability and access.   

    In the South, moderate to heavy Gu rainfall was reported in most livelihood zones of Hiiraan, the Shabelles, the Jubas regions, Gedo, Bay and Bakool regions in the period of May 1-10. However, localized agropastoral and riverine areas of Beledweyne, coastal areas of Middle Shabelle, and parts of pastoral and agropastoral areas of Gedo and Lower Juba recorded relatively little rainfall. Rain gauge stations recorded 78 mm in Agoye (Lower Shabelle), 64 mm in Qansahdhere (Bay), 63 mm in Buloburte (Hiiraan), 61 mm in Xudur (Bakool) and 15 mm in Sakow (Middle Shabelle). Due to moderate to heavy rain in the Ethiopian highlands, localized floods were reported in villages of Hiraan and Middle Shabelle as well as in Sakow and Jamame districts of Middle and Lower Juba regions. Outside of flooded riverine areas, and even though accumulation was below-average for the 10-day period in some areas, the rains are positive for rangelands and Gu season crop production.

    The satellite-derived eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the period of May 1-10 showed increasing positive anomalies across most of Somalia (Figure 3). Above-average cumulative rainfall during the 2019 Deyr season and 2020 Gu season to date are driving the positive anomalies. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s seven-day weather forecast through May 20th predicts most areas of the country will experience a dry spell. However, large parts of Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba, and parts of Middle Juba – especially coastal areas – will likely receive moderate to heavy rainfall ranging from 15 to 80 mm (Figure 4). The forecast also predicts suppressed rainfall in the Juba and Shabelle catchments in the Ethiopian highlands, which will likely ease the high flood risk in riverine areas along the Shabelle river.

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    Figures Map of Somalia showing the estimated rainfall accumulation from May 1st to 10th in millimeters

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET/UCSB Climate Hazards Center

    Map of Somalia showing the difference of rainfall accumulated from May 1st to 10th from the long-term average

    Figure 2

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET/UCSB Climate Hazards Center

    Map of Somalia showing vegetation conditions during the May 1st to 10th period

    Figure 3

    Figure 3

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Map of Somalia showing the rainfall forecast for May 14th to 20th

    Figure 4

    Figure 4

    Source: NOAA/CPC

    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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