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Below-average gu precipitation in mid-May, though severe flooding continues in southern regions

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Somalia
  • May 20, 2024
Below-average gu precipitation in mid-May, though severe flooding continues in southern regions

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According to field reports and corroborated by remote sensing data, most of Somalia experienced below-average rainfall from May 11-20, with dry spells observed in most southern, central, and northern regions. CHIRPS remote sensing imagery indicates rainfall totals ranged from 2 to 10 millimeters in much of the south and central livelihood zones, with localized areas receiving 10 to 25 millimeters. Exceptions to this include pastoral areas of Nugaal and Togdheer regions, which received average to above average rainfall in mid-May (Figure 1). Compared to the 1981-2020 average, southern, central, and parts of northwestern Somalia observed rainfall deficits of 10 to 25 millimeters, while rainfall in the rest of the country was generally average (Figure 2). Despite the below-average rainfall, riverine livelihood zones in Hiiraan, Middle Shabelle, Gedo, and Juba regions experienced river flooding, damaging farmland, and displacing populations. As of May 24, SWALIM’s river station gauge data indicated high flood risk in Beledweyne and moderate flood risk in Buloburte, while levels in Jowhar, Doolow, and Luuq were below moderate risk of flooding. 

In the northwest, cumulative rainfall was mostly average to below average from May 11-20. Although, localized light to moderate rains fell in parts of East Golis and Northern Inland Pastoral (NIP) livelihood zones of Togdheer and Sanaag regions. The atypical dryness in May has negatively impacted rangeland resources and agricultural crop production. Field reports indicate cereal crops in the northwest agropastoral areas are suffering moisture stress and at risk of wilting by the end of May if rainfall does not improve. Access to pasture and water is mostly average, with some areas below average due to poor gu rainfall.

In the northeast, field reports indicated mixed rainfall from May 11-20. Most of Bari region experienced atypical dryness, though localized light to moderate rainfall was observed in parts of NIP, East Golis, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones. In contrast, widespread moderate rain was received across most livelihood zones in Nugaal and northern Mudug. As a result, rangeland conditions have reached near-average conditions in Nugaal and northern Mudug regions, though generally remain below average in most of Bari.

In the central regions, field reports indicated localized light to moderate rainfall in Galgaduud and southern Mudug regions from May 11 to 20. According to remote sensing data, while total rainfall in Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone in the central regions was mostly below average during this period, rainfall in Addun Pastoral livelihood zone in central regions was largely average. The cumulative gu rainfall has supported the regeneration of rangeland resources and average to above-average access to pasture and water.

In the south, little to no rainfall was reported across all livelihood zones from May 11 to 20, with all rain gauges recording zero precipitation. This is the second consecutive period with below-average rainfall and dry spells in parts of the south. However, heavy rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands has caused flooding in Hiiraan, Middle Shabelle, Gedo, and Juba regions, damaging crops and displacing people. The ongoing dry spells and flooding have negatively impacted gu cropping and production prospects. However, rangeland conditions range from average to above average.

According to eVIIRS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data for May 11-20, despite the below-average rainfall, most of Somalia continued to see improving vegetation conditions. This is largely attributable to the above-average deyr 2023 rainfall and average gu rainfall from April to early May. However, localized negative anomalies driven by insufficient gu rainfall are observed in localized parts of central, northeastern, and northwestern regions (Figure 3). The NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s seven-day forecast ending May 30 indicates most of Somalia will be dry (Figure 4). However, the coastal areas of Juba and Shabelle will receive light to moderate rainfall. Suppressed rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands is expected to ease flooding along the Juba and Shabelle rivers in the next one to two weeks. 

For more rain gauge data, please get in touch with So-Hydro@fao.orgor visit www.faoswalim.org.

Figure 1

Estimated cumulative rainfall (mm) according to CHIRPS Preliminary, May 11-20, 2024
Map showing estimated cumulative rainfall (mm) according to CHIRPS, May 11-20

Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

Figure 2

Estimated cumulative rainfall anomalies (CHIRPS Preliminary) in mm on May 11-20, 2024, compared to the 1981-2020 mean
Map showing estimated cumulative rainfall anomalies (CHIRPS Preliminary) in mm on May 11-20, 2024, compared to the 1981-2020 mean

Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

Figure 3

eVIIRS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomalies, May 11-20, 2024, compared to 2012-2021 mean
eVIIRS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomalies, May 11-20, 2024, compared to 2012-2021 mean

Source: USGS/FEWS NET

Figure 4

Global Forecast System rainfall forecast in mm for May 24-30, 2024
Map showing Global Forecast System rainfall forecast in mm for May 24-30, 2024

Source: NOAA/CPC

Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Somalia Seasonal Monitor May 20, 2024: Below-average gu precipitation in mid-May, though severe flooding continues in southern regions, 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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