Mongolia: Snowstorm Information bulletin

This bulletin is being issued for information only, and reflects the current situation and details available at this time. The Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS), with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), is not seeking external assistance at this time, but continues to monitor the evolving situation.

The situation

Heavy snowfall and violent wind gusts hit southern parts of the country including Khentii, Tuv, Dornogovi, Umnugovi, Bayankhongor, Uvurkhangai, and Govi-Altai provinces between 10 May and 11 May 2019. As stated by NAMEM1 , wind speeds fluctuated between 18 and 24 m/s (-17 degrees Celsius wind chill factor ) and reached 28 to 30 m/s (-24 degrees Celsius wind chill factor), in Altai, Tonkhil, and Sharga soums of Govi-Altai province, and Jinst soum of Bayankhongor province. Even though early warnings were disseminated through media channels, including television and radio, social media by local meteorology offices, and emergency management agencies on 10 May, there were many calls from herders to emergency agencies for losing their livestock in the snowstorm. Most herders had their livestock grazing out in the field as it was tranquil in the morning, and then a sudden change of weather occurred within 30 to 40 minutes, according to the herders.

Snowdrifts and blowing snow induced poor visibility of less than 0.5 kilometers (as stated by herders) and disrupted movement between cities due to road closures in many areas. The weather forced livestock into the wilderness and severely affected the herdsmen. The overall damage caused by the snowstorm in Mongolia has not yet been officially announced, but known losses include 20 households from 8 soums in Umnugovi province that lost about 3,000 livestock in sheep units, while another 10 households are still looking for their lost livestock.

Also, roughly 2,000 horses from Delgerekh and Ikhkhet soums were driven across the border to China in Dornogovi province, and 11,592 livestock in sheep units perished during the snowstorm in Zuunbayan-Ulaan, Bogd, and Guchin-Us soums of Uvurkhangai province.

The most tragic cases happened in Umnugovi province in which three (3) persons in Tsogt-tsetsii soum and one (1) person in Sevrei soum got lost in the snowstorm and were later found dead by the local emergency management agency around midnight on 12 May, and in Bogd soum of Uvurkhangai province where two (2) persons were found dead on 13 May. The police stated that most people started wearing thinner clothes and, since the weather had been warmer, the sudden snowstorm caught them off guard. The victims seem to have gotten lost while following their livestock, which had been driven off by the storm. Massive snowfall (25 to 30 cm, as stated by local authorities) accumulated and is now melting, causing a potential risk of flash floods in Sevrei and Tsogttsetsii soums of Umnugovi province.