Record-Setting Cyclone Gati Leaves Death, Destruction in Somalia

Published in 23 November, 2020

At a Glance

  • Gati is the first hurricane-strength system to hit Somalia in recorded history.

  • SBC Somali TV reported eight people had died in the storm.

  • Streets and houses were flooded in Hafun and in the cities of Hurdiya and Bosaso.

Eight deaths are being blamed on Tropical Cyclone Gati, the first hurricane-strength system to hit Somalia in recorded history.

Gati made landfall about 6 p.m. Sunday local time over the city of Hafun with sustained winds of 105 mph, the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane.

SBC Somali TV reported eight people had died in the storm, including five fishermen from Yemen, which lies across the Gulf of Aden. Authorities fear the toll could rise, the station reported. Nine people were injured, according to the Somali National News Agency.

Several buildings were destroyed in Hafun, which is in the state of Puntland in eastern Somalia on the Horn of Africa.

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Streets and houses were flooded in Hafun and in the cities of Hurdiya and Bosaso, according to Garowe Online.

Dozens of people were evacuated in Hurdiya as homes were flooded, Garowe Online reported.

Heavy rains shut down business in Bosaso on Monday, according to a reporter for SBC Somalia TV. He tweeted photos showing downed utility poles and standing water.

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Flooding is expected to continue with as much as 8 inches of rain forecast. That area of northern Somalia typically gets about 4 inches of rain a year.

Gati grew from a depression to a severe cyclone in 12 hours Sunday. Its wind speeds reached 115 mph.

“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 Physical Sciences Laboratory, tweeted.

(MORE: What the Hyperactive Hurricane Season Tells Us About Upcoming Winter)

Lillo told NPR Gati’s intensification from about 40 mph to 115 mph was “the largest 12-hour increase on record for a tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean.”

Meteorologist and climate journalist Eric Holthaus told NPR, “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. Gati’s strength is part of that broader global pattern of stronger storms.”

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