The strongest tropical cyclone ever in the northern Indian Ocean and the first hurricane-strength weather system to ever strike the country of Somalia made landfall on Sunday, threatening two years’ worth of rain in two days.
Tropical Cyclone Gati made landfall in Somalia on Sunday with sustained winds of roughly 105 mph, making it the strongest tropical cyclone ever measured in the northern Indian Ocean. At one point before landfall, Gati’s winds were recorded at 115 mph, NPR reported.
In another first, it is also the first hurricane-strength storm to strike the country of Somalia.
“Gati is the strongest tropical cyclone that has been recorded in this region of the globe; further south than any category 3-equivalent cyclone in the North Indian Ocean,” Sam Lillo, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Physical Sciences Laboratory wrote.
Lillo added that its intensification from about 40 mph to 115 mph was “the largest 12-hour increase on record for a tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean.”
The strongest previous storm to strike Somalia was a 2018 cyclone that packed winds of 60 mph.
Somalia is located in the Horn of Africa, where hot conditions prevail year-round, with irregular rainfall. People are more worried about having the best deodorant to protect from sweating rather than the need for an umbrella. But now, heavy rain and potential flash flooding are a concern.
Meteorologist and climate journalist Eric Holthaus told NPR that northern Somalia usually gets about 4 inches of rain per year.
Citing data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Holthaus said that Gati could bring 8 inches over the next two days, equivalent to “two years worth of rainfall in just two days.” He added that some isolated areas could see even more rainfall.
“With climate change we’re seeing warmer ocean temperatures and a more moist atmosphere that’s leading to a greater chance of rapid intensification for tropical cyclones like Gati,” Holthaus said. “Gati’s strength is part of that broader global pattern of stronger storms.”
The strength of the storm, coming in at Category 3 strength, prompted the United Nations to issue an alert that the storm was posing an immediate threat to the Marine shipping lane that links Somalia with the Gulf States.