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Moderate to heavy gu rainfall in most areas in early May, with flooding in the south

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Somalia
  • May 10, 2024
Moderate to heavy gu rainfall in most areas in early May, with flooding in the south

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From May 1-10, most of Somalia continued to experience moderate to heavy and above-average cumulative rainfall, especially in parts of south-central and northwestern Somalia. However, the far south, including parts of Shabelle, Juba, and southern Bay and Gedo regions, experienced rainfall deficits ranging from 10 to 50 millimeters (mm) below the long-term average (1981-2020) during the period. Meanwhile, most of the northern regions experienced light to moderate and near-average rainfall. Preliminary CHIRPS remote-sensing data for early May indicates most south-central regions received 50 to 100 mm of rainfall, while localized areas of Juba and Gedo and most of Bari, Sool, and Sanaag regions received 25 mm or less cumulative rainfall (Figure 1). Rainfall ranging from 200 to 300 percent of average in the Ethiopian highlands, which feed the Shabelle and Juba rivers, and parts of Somalia continued to trigger flooding, particularly in riverine areas of Beledweyne in Hiiraan Region, several districts in Middle Shabelle Region, and along the Dawa River between Doolow and Beledxaawo districts of Gedo Region, resulting in crop damage in some areas. FAO SWALIM river station gauge data on May 14, 2024 show atypically elevated river water levels along the Juba and Shabelle rivers, with monitoring stations in Luuq of Gedo and Beledweyn of Hiraan regions reaching moderate to high flood risk levels. However, precipitation is forecasted to subside in Somalia and the Ethiopian highlands through May 20, which is anticipated to ease the elevated river water levels and risk of flooding along the Juba and Shabelle rivers.   

In the northwest, moderate to heavy rainfall was observed in most pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones of Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool regions from May 1-10. The moderate rains have supported continued improvement in rangeland and livestock body conditions to near-average or slightly above-average levels. However, in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone in Awdal Region, little cumulative rainfall was received in early May, reaching only 45 to 75 percent of the long-term average rainfall levels for the period. 

In the northeast, following the slow and below-average start to the rains, slight improvements in rainfall performance were observed in the pastoral areas of Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug regions from May 1-10. Localized flooding from the Karkaar mountains and Sanaag plains was reported in the lowland parts of the Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in Iskushuban and Bossaso districts. The floods have also damaged road infrastructure in the Caluula and Qandala districts. While rangeland conditions in most of Bari are reportedly slightly below normal levels following the delayed onset of the rains, the recent localized rainfall and flooding is anticipated to replenish pasture availability through mid-May. In Nugaal, and northern Mudug,  gu rainfall has generally restored pasture conditions to average levels. 

In the central regions, remote sensing data, corroborated by field reports, indicate pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones of Galgaduud and southern Mudug regions received 25 to 50 mm of rainfall from May 1-10. Consistent above-average heavy cumulative rainfall since the start of the 2024 gu season has resulted in this gu season being the wettest or second wettest on record thus far in most of Galgaduud Region. The rainfall in early May has positively impacted rangeland conditions, enhanced pastoral households’ access to pasture and water, and supported normal cowpea crop development in the Cowpea Belt Agropastoral livelihood zone.

In the south, mixed rainfall trends were observed from May 1-10. Most livelihood zones of Hiiraan, and parts of northern Bay, Gedo, and Middle Shabelle regions received widespread moderate to heavy rainfall. However, in southern Bay, rainfall was below average and reports indicated that most of the agropastoral livelihood zones of Burhakaba, Qansaxdheere, and Wajid districts had little to no rainfall. Below-average rainfall was also reported in most livelihood zones of the Jubas and Lower Shabelle Region. From May 1-10, rain gauge stations recorded 143 mm in Beledweyne (Hiiraan), 88 mm in Saakow (Middle Juba), 42 mm in Baydhaba (Bay), 80 mm in Xudur (Bakool), and zero mm in Afgooye (Lower Shabelle) and Jamaame (Lower Juba). Despite the heavy rainfall and rising river water levels in the riverine areas, flooding in early May was less severe than during April. Exceptions, however, included localized river flooding along the Dawa River between the Doolow and Beledxaawo districts of Gedo Region, which caused some damage to standing crops, and in localized riverine areas of Beledweyne. However, the severe flooding in Middle Shabelle continued into May with inundated fields, damaged infrastructure, and disruptions to cultivation.

According to the eVIIRS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the May 1-10 period, most areas have experienced significantly improved vegetation conditions, with widespread positive vegetation anomalies across the south, due to the increased cumulative rainfall in late April and early May (Figure 3). Following weeks of localized to well distributed moderate to heavy rainfall in many areas of Somalia, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s seven-day rainfall forecast for the week ending May 20 indicates that most of the country will expect little to no rainfall, with the exception of localized areas in the northeast. Furthermore, reduced rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands from May 14-20 is expected to ease the atypically high river water levels across most riverine areas of the country and reduce the risk of flooding in the coming weeks.

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Figure 1

Estimated cumulative rainfall (mm) according to CHIRPS, May 1-10, 2024
stimated cumulative rainfall (mm) according to CHIRPS, May 1-10, 2024

Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

Figure 2

Estimated rainfall anomaly (CHIRPS Preliminary) in mm in May 1-10, 2024 compared 1981-2020 average
Estimated cumulative rainfall anomalies (mm) according to CHIRPS preliminary data, May 1-10, 2024 compared to 1981-2020 mean

Source: UCSB Climate Hazards Center

Figure 3

eVIIRS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomalies, May 1-10, 2024 compared to 2012-2021 mean
eVIIRS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomalies, May 1-10, 2024 compared to 2012-2021 mean


Figure 4

Global Forecast System rainfall forecast in mm for May 14-20, 2024
Global Forecast System rainfall forecast in mm for May 14-20, 2024

Source: NOAA/CPC

Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Somalia Seasonal Monitor May 10, 2024: Moderate to heavy gu rainfall in most areas in early May, with flooding in the south, 2024.

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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