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Most of Somalia received little to no rainfall in mid-May

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Somalia
  • May 24, 2021
Most of Somalia received little to no rainfall in mid-May

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Following moderate to heavy rainfall in late April and early May across much of Somalia, field reports indicate that most of Somalia received little or no rain during the May 11-20 period. According to preliminary CHIRPS remote sensing data, however, parts of northwestern, northeastern, and central Somalia and localized areas of the South received 10 to 75 millimeters (mm) of rain (Figure 1). The rest of the country, including most of the South and large parts of the central and northern regions, received less than 10 mm of rain. Compared to the long-term average (1981-2018), total rainfall in most of southern, central, and northwestern Somalia was 10-50 mm below average (Figure 2). According to the most recent FAO SWALIM river station gauge data, water levels at key monitoring points along the Shabelle and Juba rivers show that river levels are below the moderate flood risk level. One exception is the Beledweyne station report, which indicates that the current water level exceeds the high flood risk level. As a result, there are reports of episodic flooding with a low extent in portions of Beledweyne. Additionally, flooding reported in early May in Jowhar and adjacent areas of Middle Shabelle is still ongoing. However, the seven-day forecast ending May 30 indicates that there will likely be a dry spell throughout the country and in the river catchments in the Ethiopian highlands, which is likely to lower the risk of flooding along the Shabelle River.

In the Northwest, little or no rainfall was reported in most rural areas of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Sanaag, and Sool regions during the May 11-20 period, a reversal from the moderate to heavy rains received in the previous two weeks. However, localized light to moderate rain occurred in West Golis Pastoral livelihood zone in Baki district of Awdal and in Burco and Sheikh districts of Togdheer region. Similarly, portions of West Golis Pastoral, Northern Inland Pastoral, and Hawd Pastoral in Sool and Sanaag received light to moderate rainfall. Despite suppressed rainfall in mid-May, the earlier increase in rainfall amounts in late April and early May led to the regeneration of rangelands and improved access to water and pasture, which in turn has elevated the state of the livestock body conditions and productivity to a normal level. However, the rains also supported Desert Locust hatching and band formation in some areas, particularly in pastoral areas of Togdheer, which may be detrimental to rangeland conditions.

In the Northeast, little to no rainfall was reported in most livelihood zones of Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug regions during the May 11-20 period. Most of Bari was dry, including East Golis Pastoral, Northern Inland Pastoral, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones. In Nugaal and northern Mudug, localized, moderate rainfall was only reported in Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone of Nugaal and in Addun Pastoral livelihood zone in Burtinle district and some neighboring areas. Due to limited rainfall throughout the gu season, rangeland conditions remain below average in all pastoral livelihood zones of Bari region and in Northern Inland Pastoral and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones of northern Mudug and Nugaal. However, rangeland conditions are relatively average in other areas, including Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone.

In the central regions, little to no rainfall was reported across most pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones of southern Mudug and Galgaduud regions during the May 11-20 period. However, pockets of Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone of Xarardhere and Elder districts, as well as localized areas of Addun Pastoral livelihood zone of Galkacyo and Hobyo districts, received moderate rainfall. Due to moderate to heavy rainfall earlier in the season, rangeland conditions are generally normal and access to pasture and water is adequate in most areas, but some grazing deficiencies are present in localized areas.

In the South, most livelihood zones in Hiraan, Lower and Middle Shabelle, Middle Juba, Gedo, and Bay regions received little or no precipitation during the May 11-20 period. However, moderate rainfall, confirmed by CHIRPS satellite imagery with an average distribution of up to 25-50 mm, was reported in most of Middle Juba’s pastoral, agropastoral, and riverine livelihood zones. In addition to remote sensing data, rain gauge stations recorded 15.2 mm in Qansaxdhere (Bay), 11 mm in Sakow (Middle Juba), 10.5 mm in Baidoa (Bay), 7 mm in Jamaame (Lower Juba), and 0 mm in Afgoye (Lower Shabelle), Beledweyne (Hiiraan), and Hudur (Bakool). Although earlier rainfall has led to improved pasture and contributed to the emergence and germination of seedlings in many areas, the low amount of rainfall received during this period and forecast in the coming weeks will likely result in crop water stress. In riverine areas in Hiraan and Middle Shabelle, the risk of flooding remains high with episodic flooding reported in the city of Beledweyne and parts of Middle Shabelle. However, subsiding rainfall over the coming week is expected to reduce the risk of flooding.

According to the satellite-derived eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the period of May 11-20, improved vegetation conditions are observed following moderate to heavy rainfall in late April and early May. Despite the improvement, localized deficits remain visible, especially in parts of northwestern and southern regions (Figure 3). Further, the significant decrease in rainfall in mid-May will likely slow down the improvement in vegetation conditions and lead to water stress for standing crops. The seven-day weather forecast from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center until May 30 predicts an almost completely dry spell in all regions of the country, which elevates the likelihood of stagnating vegetation and stressed cropping conditions (Figure 4). At the same time, a forecast of low rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands over the same period is expected to lower the current risk of flooding along the Shabelle River.

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 11-20, 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 11-20, 20

Figure 2

Figure 2

Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

Map of Somalia showing the eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly from 2003-2017 median, May 11-20, 202

Figure 3

Figure 3

Source: FEWS NET

Map of Somalia showing Global Forecast System (GFS) rainfall forecast in mm for May 24-30, 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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