Sri Lanka, the pearl-shaped island endowed with natural treasures, is located in the Indian Ocean, off the Southwest coast of India. Its setting north to the equator has made the climate in Sri Lanka tropical, with both wet and dry seasons. However, the weather in Sri Lanka is just wonderful when compared with hundreds of other countries in this world. Of course, the temperature in the coastal areas of this land ranges from approximately twenty-eight to thirty-two Celsius degrees. Furthermore, the temperature of the central highlands of the country is at an average of around twenty degrees Celsius. Accordingly, Sri Lanka is blessed with significant climatic variations.
However, Sri Lanka is a country blessed with plenty of sunshine throughout the year. Still, there are several factors that bring variations to this weather and climate in Sri Lanka. In brief, the monsoon seasons, the two zenith paths of the sun, and the inland elevations are some of them. So, willing to learn more about them? Take it easy, because we have lined up all that you need to know! Therefore, let us now have a close look at what kind of an impact they have on the weather in Sri Lanka.
Factors that impact the weather and climate in Sri Lanka
Impact the monsoons have on the climate in Sri Lanka
Monsoons seasons bring rainy clouds along with the skies, with heavy showers for certain areas during certain times. Accordingly, a year can be divided into two main monsoon seasons and two inter-monsoon seasons as follows.
Main monsoon seasons in Sri Lanka
The time period in which the South-Western Monsoon season gets active is during the months of May to September. As the name suggests, this monsoon brings rain to the cities such as Colombo and Galle, in the South West quarter of the country. It starts with a windy atmosphere and develops into a climate where rain showers can occur at any time of the day. Moreover, the rainfall of this season would range between a hundred millimeters to three-thousand millimeters. Areas such as Ginigaththena, Watawala, and Norton might experience the highest downpours during these months. The rainfall of those areas would even reach an average of three-thousand millimeters. Nonetheless, the rest of the areas would not experience that much of rain along with this season. However, this monsoon is considerably quick. Moreover, there is a high possibility for this monsoon to be gentle with short and sharp showers.
North – Eastern Monsoon
This season, also popular as the ‘Maha Monsoon’, comes into action during the months of October to January. Unlike being limited to a specific region as the South-Western monsoon, , this monsoon even has an ability to affect the whole country as well. However, the major effect would be on the Northern Eastern quarter of the island. Specifically, the highest rainfall normally occurs around the North Eastern slopes of the central highlands.
There is a high possibility that the surroundings will get windy and stormy than the other monsoon during this season. Still, the days would be pleasing and relaxing, and the weather in Sri Lanka will be more favorable. Nonetheless, these monsoons are really unpredictable. They can sometimes be lighter one year, and extremely stronger the next year as well. So, nothing to be surprised even if you spot many and more sunny days in the course of this season.
Inter-monsoonal Periods in Sri Lanka
First Inter monsoon
The first inter-monsoon season affects the Northern Western parts of the country, but not as severe as the North-Western Monsoon. Moreover, this lasts between the months of March and April. Generally, this inter monsoonal season is a bit weird. Of course, there might be very warm and calm sunny days. And of a sudden, the following day might be full of drastic thunderstorms. However, the rain showers during this season would most probably fall towards the end of the day. Further, the normal rainfall of this inter monsoon ranges between 100 mm to 750 mm.
Second Inter monsoon
The second inter monsoonal season runs through October to November. In brief, rain showers can take place anywhere on the island, and the surroundings may be windy and cooler. This happens due to the depression and cyclones in the Bay of Bengal, which is common during this period. As same as in the first inter-monsoon season, rain these days might explicitly fall towards the evenings. And if continued, these showers might even result in floods and landslides causing a series of difficulties. Moreover, the normal rainfall of around 400 mm is possible during the second inter monsoon. However, Southern Western slopes might experience a higher rainfall with an approximate average of about 1000 mm.
Impact the sun’s zenith paths have on the climate in Sri Lanka.
Of course, the zenith paths do have a significant impact on making the Sri Lankan climate warmer and scorching. As you might know, Sri Lanka is located within the tropics between 5° 55′ to 9° 51′ North latitude and between 79° 42′ to 81° 53′ East longitude. Accordingly, the sun is directly over these latitudes, in the months of April and October.
Cities that experience high temperatures in April
In April, this happens due to the apparent Northward relative motion of the sun. Thus, the following cities and areas of their vicinity will experience sizzling temperatures on varying days of that period.
- Elephant Pass
Cities that experience high temperatures in September – October
And in September, the sun goes directly overhead owing to the apparent Southwards relative motion of the sun. Here are some cities that would experience higher temperatures accordingly.
The temperature of these areas during those days would approximately range between 32 to 37 degrees Celsius. Moreover, its impact will surely long for around a week.
Impact the country’s topography has on the climate in Sri Lanka.
This ‘pearl shaped’ island of Sri Lanka, has got a variety of topographical features when moving towards the middle part of the land. Accordingly, the three main regions are identified as the coastal belt, plains, and the Central Highlands.
In brief, this is the outermost land area that surrounds the isle of Sri Lanka. Further, it ranges at around thirty meters above sea level, and mainly consists of the scenic golden beaches and lagoons. Moreover, rock cliffs, bays, and offshore islands make this area more interesting. It is certainly these features that make the Sri Lankan harbors stand among the best in the world. However, the blue waves of the Indian Ocean give the coastal belt a pleasant and refreshing atmosphere.
In brief, this region covers a vast area of Sri Lanka, which lies between 30 and 200 meters above sea level. Furthermore, these areas remain flat, except for a few sudden hills that stand in between some lowlands. Other than that, no significant topographical features can be identified along the plains. The climate of plains normally happens to be sunny and warm, unless the monsoon rains fall.
Central highlands cover the highest parts of the land that mainly spread across the central part of the country. Further, it has a variety of significant topographical features when compared with the other two regions of the island. Mountainous surroundings with ridges, peaks, plateaus, basins, valleys, and escarpments are some of them. The center of the southern parts of Sri Lanka stands at a height of more than 2.5 kilometers. All these features collectively impact the weather in Sri Lanka at a higher level. The hilly areas certainly affect the intensity and the distribution of rainfall across varying areas of the country. Apart from that, spatial patterns of the winds and the relative humidity of the country also depend on features as such.
Likewise, there are many and more factors that impact the weather and climate in Sri Lanka. To sum up, after considering all these, there are a few conclusions that we can arrive at. In brief, they are as follows.
- The Southwestern mountain slope and the coastal areas of Sri Lanka happen to be the rainiest.
- The north-west coast and the south-east coast of the island are the driest.
- Days between December to January are the coldest and it is the sunniest in the month of May.
Climate zones in Sri Lanka
Of course, yes! By now, you have a clear idea about how different factors impact the climate and weather patterns in Sri Lanka. Considering these contrasting, still, significant climatic features in different areas, Sri Lanka is divided into 5 climatic zones. They are,
1. North West Region
2. South West Coast Region
3. East Coast Region
4. South East Coast Region
5. The Interior Region
Let us now have a look at these climatic zones in detail.
North Western Region
This part of the island is closer to India, and the cities such as Jaffna, Mannar, and Puttalam belong here. When considering its climate, it is popular as a zone with bright sunshine in the year around. Specifically, plenty of sunshine will reach these areas from January to May. Nevertheless, the other months would experience a decent climate with average sun rays. The North-Western region gets a rainfall of around 1200 mm every year, predominantly during the October to December. Moreover, the ocean of North West is warm during most of the time of the year.
However, ned to know more about the climatic features of the cities of this region? Nothing to worry! Of course, we have lined you up with details about the weather in the major cities of the North West Region. Here we go!
Jaffna, which is closer to the north-western tip of the country, is a major city in the North-Western region. In brief, the climate in Jaffna is mostly hot, and the temperature is at its extreme even in summer. Annual Rainfall of around Jaffna ranges at 1300 mm,and it gets rain mainly during October to December.
Kalpitiya is in the close proximity of Puttalam. Moreover, it too has a similar climate to the climate in Puttalam.
South West Coast Region
The South Western Coast of Sri Lanka, has got a number of popular cities such as Negombo, Galle, and Colombo. In terms of climate, this sector has got slight variations when comparing with the other regions. Generally, these areas do not undergo an actual dry season. The rains would be higher than the North Western coast, yet showers would be lesser from January to March and from June to August. As mentioned earlier, many popular cities are in this region. Wondering what kind of climate they have? Look below to clear out the doubts that you have with regards!
Of course, this is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Further, it is located in the south-western coastal area, which is the rainiest part of this region. Moreover, the annual rainfall of this city ranges at around 2,500 mm. April to May and October to November are the peak seasons for showers, while January and February happen to be the driest. However, Colombo is hot throughout the year with an average temperature of around 32 degreesCelsius.
Galle is closer to the utmost southwest of the region. It receives a higher rainfall than Colombo, especially from July to August, because of its location. Further, its annual rainfall is at around 2,400 mm, with lower showers in the course of January to March.
This is also a popular attraction of Sri Lanka, in the southern tip of Sri Lanka. It would receive rainfall of around 2,000 mm each year, with a comparatively sunny climate in the year throughout.
Tangalle is a city in the close proximity of Matara. Also, with a rainfall of around 1900 mm every year, it has a similar climate as Matara.
East Coast Region
Cities such as Trincomalee, Kalmunai, and Batticaloa belong to the East Coast Region of Sri Lanka. The climate of this zone is semi-arid, still is wonderful to roam around in most months of the year. Of course, the sunshine is a bit bright and warm from May to September. However, the North-East monsoon has a direct impact on these areas. Accordingly, they get rain during the months of October to December. The showers will diminish towards the early months of the following year. Even so, gentle and quick rains can occur in February as well. Besides, the yearly average rainfall of the East Coast Region is at 1600 mm.
Also, you can find more specific climatic details about the main cities of the East Coast in the brief descriptions below.
This world’s popular attraction in Sri Lanka is in the East coast region of the land. Moreover, it is famous as a destination which is hot throughout the year. The temperature here would approximately be a little greater than 30 degrees Celsius. Nevertheless, rain is common in the months of October to January, with heavy thunderstorms in November and December.
This city is located further towards the south of the East Coast region. Also, its climate is much similar to the climatic features of Trincomalee, with rains from October to January. Apart from that, brilliant sunshine are common in the months of Summer.
This city with the marvelous world-popular scenic beach is located towards the southernmost end of this region. In brief, the average temperature here would lie at around 32 degrees Celsius and its climate is similar to Trincomalee and Batticaloa.
South East Coast Region
Areas such as Hambantota, Yala, and Kataragama belong to the South East Coast Region. Generally, the normal rainfall in these areas is a bit low. Further, the yearly rainfall ranges between 1,000 to 1,200 mm with a peak in October and December. High downpours can also be expected in April and May, but they won’t be as heavier as the following peak.
Let us now have a look at the climates of the main cities in this region.
Indeed, this city is famous as a very dry area. Still, it receives a significant rainfall from October to December. Specifically, the annual rainfall of Hambantota is nearly 1,000 mm. However, the monthly rainfall might exceed 100 mm during the rainy season.
This is the area in which the Yala National Park is located. Generally, the temperatures are always high here. However, the warmest will be the month of May, with an average temperature of around 31 degrees Celsius. Besides, the coldest will be February with its temperature ranging at about 28 degrees Celsius.
Cities such as Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, and Anuradhapura are a part of this zone. Yet, significant climatic changes are visible in these areas due to many factors. Also, the areas with low altitudes are popular as areas with extreme temperatures. However, the climates turn milder and gentler when moving towards the centermost parts of this region. In other words, this means the areas with high altitudes have the utmost low temperatures. Likewise, this region has got both the hottest and the coldest cities, just into one group. Owing to these notable variations, the best is to identify the significant climatic features of these areas separately.
Indeed, this is a popular attraction in the Northcentral inland region. The temperature in this city is generally high in value. Moreover, it reaches a peak between the months of March and September. Its rainfall generally ranges at around 1300 mm per year, yet the showers are a very rare sight here. This city expects the highest showers in between October and December, and the lowest between June and August.
Kandy, well known for its sacred values and natural beauty, is in the Central highlands of the country. This city stands 450 meters above sea level, and has a lower temperature comparatively. Its daily temperature generally lies at around 25 degrees Celsius. Kandy expects a rainfall of 1,850 mm per year, with the highest rainfalls during October to December.
Nuwara Eliya is approximately 1,900 meters above sea level. Moreover, it is popular as one of the coldest and the tallest areas in the country. Generally, it has got a spring-like atmosphere with colorful blossoms and scenic surroundings throughout the year. Besides, its yearly rainfall is at 1900 mm. Furthermore, the rainfall patterns of Kandy are much similar to that of Kandy, with high showers around the months of September.
What is the average temperature in Sri Lanka?
Generally, the yearly average temperature of Sri Lanka varies between 26 to 28 degrees Celsius. Now having a good overview of the climate and weather patterns in Sri Lanka, it is clear that the average temperature can vary from province to province from time to time. Hence, it is important to consider how the average temperatures of some main cities vary along with the months of the year.
Below tables give a good run-through of the average temperatures of the following cities.
4. Nuwara – Eliya
Average temperature of Jaffna
Average temperature of Colombo
Average temperature in Kandy
Average temperature in Nuwara Eliya
Impact of Climatic changes in Sri Lanka
As you already know, the climate in Sri Lanka is heavily varying due to a number of reasons. Still, the impact these changes have on Sri Lankans is not much considered by many. However, it is identified that these climatic changes affect the day to day lives of Sri Lankans immensely. Hence, it is important to find these impacts in detail.
Unfortunately, how these climatic changes affect the Sri Lankan living standard is quite pathetic. This is mainly due to the natural disasters Sri Lanka faced during the recent past. As per records, there is a significant increase in both the number and the intensity of such disasters that took place. In brief, droughts, floods, coastal erosion, tropical storms, landslides, and the siltation of reservoirs have become common in the curse of the past years. Apart from that, the tsunami disaster of the year 2004 too had negative social impacts on the Sri Lankan society, as well as the economy.
Also, Sri Lanka, being an island with beaches along the blue waters, and sea-level rise would impact the Sri Lankan coastal belt. However, whatever the disaster be, the impact it has on the lives of Sri Lankans should not be ignored. Especially, the people living around the coastal areas highly depend on oceanic resources to earn their living. Hence even a rainy season would affect their lives, which in turn impacts the economy of the country.
In brief, there are three main sectors in Sri Lanka that these climatic changes highly impact.
Agriculture in Sri Lanka
Indeed, Sri Lanka is popular as an agricultural country from its olden days. Therefore, a majority of the Sri Lankan villagers highly depend on the livelihoods related to agriculture. As a result of the climatic changes and the disasters, the harvest of crops would go down. Accordingly, several negative consequences follow this scenario. Firstly, the living of the farmers fall drastically, and the food security of the country will be at a risk. Besides, exporting agricultural products is one of the main sources of income in Sri Lanka. So, as a result of these climatic changes, agricultural exports would also be highly challengeable.
Tourism in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a high attraction of tourists due to its magical beauty and the ancient grandeur. Nevertheless, the climatic changes make it uncomfortable for travelers to roam around and enjoy. Disasters such as floods and land slopes create transportation problems, and these climatic changes influence the spread of many diseases. Owing to these reasons, many tourists avoid visiting Sri Lanka in certain months. Accordingly, Sri Lankans who depend on the tourism industry face various hardships in making their living. Besides, it impacts the Sri Lankan economy at large scale as well.
Fisheries in Sri Lanka
In brief, the majority around the coastal areas make their living out of fishing. Still, along with the climatic changes, issues regarding the availability of fish and the quality of fish come up. This not only affects the fishermen in Sri Lanka but also the exporters of fish as well.
Likewise, the climatic changes have several adverse impacts on nature, citizens, businesses, and the Sri Lankan economy as a whole. As per the predictions, the GDP of Sri Lanka is to face a decline of 7.7% by the year twenty-fifty, due to the impact of climatic change in the lives of people.
Does Sri Lanka have winter?
In fact, this is one of the frequent questions of foreigners. Yes, of course, Sri Lanka has a winter too. Nevertheless, it is not similar to the winter seasons in the European countries. There would be no snowfall or anything as such, but the environment would be colder than usual. This happens towards the last quarter of the year, generally between December to February. Moreover, the rainfall would range from around eighty-two millimeters to one hundred and sixty five millimeters, and the average temperature of Sri Lanka would be around twenty-two degrees Celsius.
On the whole, with all this information, you should now have a perfect idea about the beauty of the Sri Lankan weather. Of course, it is unpredictable and varying at a speed. But, it too has a beauty of its own. Nevertheless, negative impacts should be minimized.
However, still, have a doubt about how the climate in Sri Lanka will be for a certain area in the coming days? Nothing to worry indeed! Simply, just visit the official website of the Department of Meteorology, Sri Lanka to clear your doubts. Surely, it will help you decide the best time to visit Sri Lanka, to do the things that you love the most!