Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Cyclone Gati Threatens Somalia With Two Years of Rain in Two Days

Cyclone Gati Threatens Somalia With Two Years of Rain in Two Days
Cyclone Gati on Sunday had sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. NASA - EOSDIS Worldview

Cyclone Gati made landfall in Somalia Sunday as the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane, the first time that a hurricane-strength storm has made landfall in the East African country, NPR reported.

Furthermore, at one point before making landfall, Gati strengthened to sustained winds of 115 miles per hour, the equivalent of a Category 3 storm. It is the strongest storm on record for the entire geographical area.

"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," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researcher Sam Lillo tweeted.

The climate crisis is making storms both stronger and wetter, and Gati is an example of both. First, it intensified rapidly. The storm began as an area of low pressure observed on Thursday by India's Meteorological Department (IMD), AccuWeather reported. By Sunday, it had strengthened to a tropical depression; 12 hours later, it was a severe cyclonic storm. Lillo noted that its 12-hour intensification was the largest on record in the basin.

Gati intensified partly because of warm ocean temperatures, according to AccuWeather. Other factors included low wind shear and the fact that it was relatively small, Lillo 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," meteorologist and climate journalist Eric Holthaus told NPR. "Gati's strength is part of that broader global pattern of stronger storms."

The storm is also predicted to be very wet. Somalia usually experiences four inches of rain every year. Gati could dump eight inches, doubling that amount in just two days.

"The system may impact Socotra, Somalia, Yemen and western Oman from [Sunday] night into Monday and potentially Tuesday, with the main threat being heavy rain and flash flooding," AccuWeather Lead International Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.

Holthaus noted on Twitter that Somalia only accounts for about 0.002 percent of the total greenhouse gases emitted since the start of the industrial revolution.

"Today, they're experiencing a rapidly strengthening tropical cyclone that will bring two years worth of rainfall in just two days," he wrote. "This is the heart of climate injustice."

There is usually an average of one cyclone in the Arabian Sea every year, The Indian Express reported. However, Gati is the second to form this year after Cyclone Nisarga made landfall south of Mumbai in June. The number of cyclones forming over the Arabian Sea has increased since 2015, according to IMD data reported by The Indian Express. There were four in 2019 and three in 2018. The uptick in activity has been linked to the climate crisis. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that the Arabian Sea's surface temperatures are rising.

Plastic bails, left, and aluminum bails, right, are photographed at the Green Waste material recovery facility on Thursday, March 28, 2019, in San Jose, California. Aric Crabb / Digital First Media / Bay Area News via Getty Images

By Courtney Lindwall

Coined in the 1970s, the classic Earth Day mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has encouraged consumers to take stock of the materials they buy, use, and often quickly pitch — all in the name of curbing pollution and saving the earth's resources. Most of us listened, or lord knows we tried. We've carried totes and refused straws and dutifully rinsed yogurt cartons before placing them in the appropriately marked bins. And yet, nearly half a century later, the United States still produces more than 35 million tons of plastic annually, and sends more and more of it into our oceans, lakes, soils, and bodies.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less