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After long delay, light to heavy rainfall marks the establishment of the gu season in Somalia

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Somalia
  • May 3, 2021
After long delay, light to heavy rainfall marks the establishment of the gu season in Somalia

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After little to no rainfall in the North and poorly distributed rainfall elsewhere through April 20th, the 2021 gu rains were fully established in late April. Light to moderate to heavy precipitation occurred across much of the country during the April 21-30 period. According to preliminary CHIRPS remote sensing data, most of the Northwest and localized areas in the South received at least 25 to 50 millimeters (mm) of rain. Across the rest of the country, rainfall amounted to less than 30 mm (Figure 1). In comparison to the long-term average, rainfall amounts in the North were either climatologically average or 10-25 mm above average, especially in the Northwest. Conversely, rainfall across much of southern and central Somalia was 10-25 mm below average (Figure 2). According to the most recent FAO SWALIM river station gauge data, water levels in the Shabelle and Juba rivers continue to be well below moderate to high flood risk levels. Despite the low river water levels, SWALIM reports that open riverbank points at two villages in Jowhar district of Middle Shabelle have led to extensive damages to cropped farmland and housing in those villages.

In the Northwest, where conditions had previously remained dry, moderate to heavy rain fell across most of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sool, and Sanaag regions during the April 21-30 period. Rainfall amounts were heaviest in the agropastoral and pastoral livelihood zones of Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed, where flooding damaged roads and bridges, particularly in Hargeysa district. In Togdheer, field reports confirm moderate rainfall amounts across the region. In Sool and Sanaag, field reports indicate rain was more localized and sparse in pastoral areas than captured by remote sensing data. The rains brought an end to the meteorological drought conditions that were previously observed in March and April, alleviating severe water shortages in most livelihood zones. The rains are expected to support some crop development in agropastoral areas and temporarily regenerate pasture and browse.

In the Northeast, field reports indicate rainfall performance varied across Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug regions during the April 21-30 period. In Bari, localized light to moderate rain was reported in East Golis and Northern Inland Pastoral (NIP) livelihood zones, but little to no rainfall was reported in Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone. In Nugaal and northern Mudug, no rainfall occurred in coastal areas, though light showers fell in NIP and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones and localized moderate rainfall occurred in Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone. Although meteorological drought has been alleviated according to the Standardized Precipitation Index, field reports suggest conditions are drier than normal in Coastal Deeh, NIP, and Addun livelihood zones of Nugaal and northern Mudug.

In central regions, gu rainfall amounts intensified in Galgaduud and southern Mudug during the April 21-30 period. Field reports confirm moderate to heavy rainfall occurred with normal distribution. However, rainfall amounts were reportedly heavier in Hawd Pastoral and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones compared to Coastal Deeh Pastoral and Cowpea Belt livelihood zones. The increase in rainfall amounts has alleviated acute water and pasture shortages in these areas.

In the South, rainfall performance varied across regions during the April 21-30 period. Moderately intense rainfall with uniform distribution was reported in most livelihood zones of Bay, Bakool, Gedo, and Juba regions. Conversely, most livelihood zones of Hiiraan and the Shabelle regions received relatively less rainfall, where localized light to moderate rains are reported. Between April 21st and 30th, rain gauge stations recorded 97.8 mm in Qansahdhere (Bay), 53 mm in Hudur (Bakool), 52 mm in Sakow (Middle Juba), 45 mm in Beledweyne (Hiiraan), 25.5 mm in Baidoa (Bay), 5.5 mm in Jamaame (Lower Juba), and 0 mm in Afgoye (Lower Shabelle). The late April rains are expected to improve rangeland conditions and boost cropping conditions in many southern regions, though concern remains given the short timeframe of the rainfall season. River water levels rose but remained below flood risk levels. However, open river breakages led to flooding in two villages in Jowhar district of Middle Shabelle, with damage to cropped farmland and housing.

According to the satellite-derived eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the period of April 21-30, negative vegetation anomalies remain prevalent in southern, central, and northwestern parts of the country (Figure 3). However, given the increase in rainfall amounts, vegetation conditions are expected to improve in many areas of the country over the coming days and weeks. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center's seven-day weather forecast through May 10 predicts moderate to heavy precipitation of up to 60-80 mm across the country (Figure 4). The highest amount of rainfall is expected in pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones of the North and in localized areas in the South, including Bay, Bakool, Lower Shabelle, and Juba regions.

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

Figures Map of Somalia showing estimated rainfall (CHIRPS Preliminary) in mm, April 21-30, 2021

Figure 1

Figure 1

Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

Map of Somalia showing estimated rainfall anomaly (CHIRPS Preliminary) in mm compared to the 1981-2018 mean, April 21-30, 202

Figure 2

Figure 2

Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

Map of Somalia showing eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly from 2003-2017 median, April 21-30, 2021

Figure 3

Figure 3

Source: FEWS NET

Map of Somalia showing the rainfall forecast in mm for May 4-10, 2021

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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