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Heavy rainfall in late April leads to flooding along Juba River and flash floods in the Northwest

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Somalia
  • May 5, 2020
Heavy rainfall in late April leads to flooding along Juba River and flash floods in the Northwest

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  • Summary
  • Situation
  • Partner
    USGS

    Summary

    Moderate to heavy rainfall was recorded across most areas of Somalia during the April 21-30 period, resulting in river floods and flash floods. According to CHIRPS preliminary remote sensing data, rainfall was highest in southern, central, and northwestern regions, where amounts ranged from 25 to 75 millimeters (mm) (Figure 1). The rest of the country – including coastal areas of the South, most areas of the Nugaal and Bari in the Northeast, and most of Sool and large parts of Sanaag in the Northwest – received 10-25 mm of rainfall. According to remote sensing data, rainfall was 10-50 mm above the long-term mean in large parts of the Northwest, parts of central Somalia, and localized areas in the Northeast (Figure 2). Although remote sensing shows rainfall was climatologically average or slightly below average in the South and localized areas in the North, ground information including rain gauge stations and reports of flooding suggest that rainfall amounts in the South and Northeast were much higher. According to FAO SWALIM river station gauge data as of April 30th, heavy rainfall locally and in the river catchments of the Ethiopian highlands led to moderate to high flood risk along the Juba and Shabelle rivers. Excessive floods occurred in Bardheere of Gedo region as well as middle and lower reaches of Juba.


    Situation

    In the Northwest, the Gu rains continued to perform positively and benefit rangelands and cropping activities. Moderate to heavy intensity and distribution were recorded in most livelihood zones of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, and Sool regions during the period of April 21-30. Only localized areas of Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone of Hudun district and an eastern part of the region recorded relatively lighter amounts. Flash floods were reported in parts of Guban Pastoral livelihood zone of Awdal and in Berbera district of Woqooyi Galbeed as well as in coastal areas of Sanaag, which disrupted road networks and damaged property, including houses and fishing gear.

    In the Northeast, heavy rains were reported across most livelihood zones of Bari, Nugaal, and Northern Mudug regions in the period of April 11-20, after dryness was observed in the previous reporting period. Well distributed rains of moderate to heavy intensity were reported across all livelihoods: Coastal Deeh Pastoral, Northern Inland Pastoral (NIP), Addun Pastoral and Hawd Pastoral. Severe flash flooding from the Golis mountains reportedly swept through large parts of NIP of Iskshuban, Bossaoso, and Qardho, with the most significant damage to private and business properties occurring in Qardho town. In contrast, some coastal areas of Bari were mostly dry. The rains are improving rangeland conditions and access to pasture and water.

    In central regions, following the positive onset of the Gu rains in mid-April, rainfall of moderate intensity and widespread distribution was recorded in the period of April 21-30 across most livelihood zones in Galgaduud and southern Mudug. Exceptions included localized pockets of Addun Pastoral livelihood zone of Adado in Galgaduud region, where rainfall was relatively lighter in both the amount and distribution. Overall, the April rains are improving pastoralists’ access to pasture and water and releasing livestock from long-distance migration. 

    In the South, Gu rains continued to pour during the period of April 21-23, 2020, before tapering off. Rains of moderate to heavy intensity and distribution fell in most livelihood zones of Juba, Shabelle, Bay, Bakool, Gedo, and Hiiraan regions. Coastal areas of Middle Shabelle and crop-producing livelihood zones of Lower Juba continue to receive less rainfall compared to other areas. Rain gauge stations recorded 193.5 mm in Baidoa (Bay), 178 mm in Elbarde (Bakool), 111 mm in Qansahdhere (Bay), 93.5 mm in Hudur (Bakool), 60 mm in Sakow (Middle Juba), 58 mm in Afgoye (Lower Shabelle) and 45.5 mm in Beledweyne (Hiraan). The heavy rains inland and in the Ethiopian highlands led to significant increase of both the Shabelle and Juba river levels and led to a severe flooding in Bardhere district of Gedo and in villages in Jowhar and Balad districts of Middle Shabelle and Sakow and Jamame districts in Middle and Lower Juba regions. Outside of flooded riverine areas, the above-average rainfall at the start of the season is expected to lead to improvement in rangeland conditions, to the benefit of livestock and Gu crop production in the South.

    The satellite-derived eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the period of April 11-20, 2020, shows increasing positive anomalies across most of Somalia (Figure 3). The positive outcomes are attributed to the cumulative effect of preceding above-average October to December 2019 Deyr season and the well performing Gu 2020 rainfall. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s seven-day weather forecast through May 10th predicts heavy rainfall ranging from 40 to 125 mm across the large parts of the South, most of central Somalia, and large parts of the Northwest. Localized areas in the rest of the country are generally expected to receive light to moderate amounts of 10-30 mm of rainfall, though very localized pockets in the South and North expect little to no rainfall (Figure 4). Forecast rainfall in Juba and Shabelle river catchments in the Ethiopian highlands will likely increase water levels in the Juba and Shabelle rivers and cause excessive flooding.

    For more rain gauge data, please, contact So-Hydro@fao.org or visit www.faoswalim.org.

    Figures

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

    Figure 2

    Figure 2

    Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

    Figure 3

    Figure 3

    Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

    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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