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Much of Somalia received moderate to heavy rainfall in early May

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Somalia
  • May 13, 2021
Much of Somalia received moderate to heavy rainfall in early May

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Following an increase in rainfall in late April in several parts of the country, field reports indicate that most of Somalia experienced moderate to heavy rainfall during the May 1-10 period. According to preliminary CHIRPS remote sensing data, parts of the Northeast and large parts of northwestern, central, and southern Somalia received at least 25 to 75 millimeters (mm) of rain (Figure 1). The remaining areas, including Bari and most of Sool, Sanaag, and Awdal regions and western Gedo region, received less than 25 mm. In comparison to the long-term average, rainfall totals ranged from to average to 10-50 mm above average (Figure 2). According to the most recent FAO SWALIM river station gauge data, the water levels of the Shabelle and Juba Rivers have increased substantially. Most monitored river points are still near or below the moderate flood risk level, but several stations report the flood risk is moderate to high, including Beletweyne. However, the seven-day forecast ending May 20 indicates a dry spell is likely across the country and in Ethiopia's highlands, which is likely to lead to a reduction of the risk of flooding along the Shabelle and Juba Rivers.

In the Northwest, rainfall performance continued to improve in most livelihood zones of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sool, and Sanaag regions during the May 1-10 period. Widespread moderate to heavy rainfall was reported in all livelihood zones of Togdheer and Sool regions. Some flash floods occurred, most significantly in Qorilugud area of Buholde in Togdheer region where hundreds of sheep and goats drowned. Conversely, pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, and Sanaag regions received highly localized moderate rainfall. Improved rainfall over the past three weeks has substantially alleviated prior severe water shortages and reduced the cost of purchasing water. The rainfall has also regenerated pasture and browse for livestock.

In the Northeast, rainfall performance varied across Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug regions during the May 1-10 period. In Bari, localized light to moderate rain continued to occur in East Golis and Northern Inland Pastoral (NIP) livelihood zones. Heavy rains in the high plateau of Sanaag caused sudden floods in pastoral valleys of NIP, which is supporting the regrowth of rangeland. However, rainfall performance remains poor in Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone of Bari. In Nugaal and northern Mudug, moderate rain was reported in the pastoral areas of Hawd, NIP, and Addun Pastoral livelihood zone, while pockets of Addun Pastoral zone and much of the subsistence area of Coastal Deeh Pastoral zone received little or no rain. Although access to pasture and water is still below normal in many regions, the increase in rainfall is expected to lead to improved availability.

In the central regions, moderate to heavy rainfall with uniform distribution was reported across all livelihood zones during the May 1-10 period. Hawd Pastoral and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones received the highest amounts, while Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone of Hobyo received the least amount of rain. No flash floods occurred during this period. Moderate to heavy rainfall over the past three weeks has positively affected rangeland conditions, and household access to pasture, browse, and water has improved significantly.

In the South, rainfall amounts improved compared to April in most areas during the May 1-10 period. Moderate to heavy rainfall with a uniform distribution was reported in most livelihoods in the Bay, Gedo, and the Juba regions. In contrast, localized moderate precipitation was recorded in Hiiraan and the Shabelle regions, and little or no rain was reported in Bakool region. Rain gauge stations recorded 145 mm in Sakow (Middle Juba), 91 mm in Baidoa (Bay), 62.5 mm in Beledweyne (Hiiraan), 45.5 mm in Qansahdhere (Bay), 26 mm in Afgoye (Lower Shabelle), 9 mm in Hudur (Bakool), and 7.5 mm in Jamaame (Lower Juba). Early May rainfall is expected to support replenishment of rangeland and cropping conditions in many areas. However, concern remains given the likely suppression of rainfall over the next two weeks, which is likely to negatively affect crop development. Water levels in the Shabelle and Juba Rivers increased substantially during this period but remained slightly below the threshold for moderate flood risk in most riverine areas. River levels are highest in Beletweyne.

According to the satellite-derived eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the period of May 1-10, improved vegetation conditions are observed due to the recent moderate to heavy rain across many areas of the country since late April. Despite the improvement, localized deficits remain visible, especially in northwestern and southern regions (Figure 3). Given the increase in rainfall amounts in May, vegetation conditions are expected to continue to improve over the coming days. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center's seven-day weather forecast through May 20 predicts a complete dry spell across all regions of the country (Figure 4). Similarly, the likely suppression of rain in the upper Ethiopian catchments could also ease the risk of flooding along the Juba and Shabelle Rivers.

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, May 1-10, 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 average, May 1-10, 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, May 1-10, 2021

Figure 3

Figure 3

Source: FEWS NET

Map of Somalia showing Global Forecast System (GFS) rainfall forecast in mm for May 14-20, 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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