Rare tropical cyclone hits Somalia, the deadliest in its history

Rare tropical cyclone hits Somalia, the deadliest in its history

Somalia experienced one of the deadliest tropical cyclones in its history. Tropical Cyclone 3A made landfall in north-eastern Somali region of Puntland on November 10–11, 2013. Tropical Cyclone 3A hit the Eyl, Beyla, Dangorayo and Hafun districts along the eastern coast and across to Alula at the tip of the Horn of Africa. 

Strong winds, heavy rains and flash floods caused more than 100 deaths. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands of livestock killed.  According to the International Disaster Database, EM-DAT, this is the deadliest tropical cyclone in Somalia's history, tied with Tropical Cyclone ARB04 of 1994 which claimed 30 lives.

Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone 03A from late Saturday night, local time. (Courtesy of NOAA)

Tropical Cyclone 3A had maximum sustained winds of 74 km/h (46 mph). System dumped 100-200 millimeters (4-8 inches) of rain, with higher amounts in some regions. Flash floods are to blame for most of the deaths. The system now moved more inland, so the greatest concern is heavy rain that will only add to the flooding problems going on across the county.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this image of the cyclone at 07:35 UTC on November 11, 2013, well after the storm came ashore. (NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek.)

Warm ocean water temperatures and low wind shear allowed system to better organize late during November 8, 2013 in north Indian Ocean, before moving over Arabian Sea and impacting Somalian coast during November 10/11, 2013. An average of two tropical cyclones formed every year in Arabian Sea.

Tropical Cyclone 3A is the fifth storm to strike the country since records began in 1966. The last cyclone to come ashore over Somalia was Tropical Cyclone Murjan on October 25, 2012. Tropical Cyclone 4B hit Somalia in 1984 and Tropical Cyclone 12A and Tropical Cyclone ARB04 in 1994.

Terra/MODIS satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Muray that hit Somalia and Ethiopia on October 25 last year (Credit: LANCE Rapid Response/MODIS)

According to latest report by Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), the center of Tropical Cyclone 3A was located approximately 175 nm south-southwest of Ras Binnah, Somalia. The system is moving westward at 08 knots and is expected to dissipate over land during the next 12 hours. 

Featured image: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek.


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