Category Archives: Climate

Weather monitoring: Equipment worth Rs. 72m gone with the wind

By Sandun Jayawardana

Sri Lanka has abandoned an initiative to use satellite technology during natural disasters, leaving Rs 72 million worth of equipment unused for four years before finally dismantling it, the Auditor General (AG) has found. The project was initiated in 2011 and given up despite the country facing severe natural disasters in previous years, states the latest report of the AG on the Disaster Management Centre (DMC). The DMC found out that the satellite technology equipment was not compatible with its other systems, only when the full system was installed.

The DMC Director General admitted to the AG that the equipment was bought without first conducting a proper study. The project’s nerve centre was an Information Communication Centre (ICC) established in Padukka under the International Centre for Emergency Techniques based in the Netherlands. Continue reading Weather monitoring: Equipment worth Rs. 72m gone with the wind


Mass bleaching of Sri Lanka coral reefs

Friday, July 1, 2016

Originally Published in ECONOMYNEXT


Higher than normal ocean temperatures off Sri Lanka’s coast is threatening to damage the best coral reefs in the island, according to surveys done by marine scientists of the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA).

“Underwater surveys shows widespread bleaching or whitening along the reefs, especially in shallow depths (of less than 10 meters) in the south and south west coast and also reported in Jaffna and Bar Reef in Kalpitiya,” a statement said.
Continue reading Mass bleaching of Sri Lanka coral reefs

A catastrophe calling for new strategies

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

By Uditha Kumarasinghe

Disaster Management Minister, Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said they are now trying to amend the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) Act and insert a condition that, in future, prior to constructing a house or building NBRO approval should be obtained. However, we don’t want the people inconvenienced, either. We propose to give a time frame for the NBRO and request them to issue the certificate within four weeks. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, the Minister said, at present, there is no Building Code and that they have prepared a document to formulate a new Code. He said, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has pledged to extend support in this regard. We intend to consult all stakeholders and table it in Parliament soon.

Continue reading A catastrophe calling for new strategies

Bad land use in Aranayake led to landslides

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

Excessive clearing of forest and cultivation practices have contributed to making Aranayake and three hillside villages extremely vulnerable to landslides, an expert on landslides told the Sunday Observer.

Director, Landslide Research and Risk Management Division, R. M. Senarath Bandara said poor land use is a serious contributor to landslides, though often overlooked.

Bandara said the entire region should be mapped and declared as a restricted zone with no human activity being permitted.

Continue reading Bad land use in Aranayake led to landslides

Tears from heaven

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Originally published in the Sunday Times
To many it was not ‘tears from heaven’ but a ‘flood of destruction’ as the skies opened out across Sri Lanka this week, causing tragedy, destruction and trauma.

In this hour of grief however, the business community aided by technology coming together – helping even rivals or competitors – and rising above petty jealousy or trading squabbles was the highlight of the week. The hard part however is in post-crisis rebuilding with donor fatigue already setting in.

The shining light across the week was the manner in which technology helped relief and rescue efforts. Relief for instance from helpful Sri Lankans was possible by just pressing a button via e-commerce webs like

Continue reading Tears from heaven

The need for a Disaster Prevention Ministry

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Originally published in the Sunday Times Editorial

The floods and the landslides in most parts of the country have put a literal dampener on celebrations to mark Vesak, the month that is significant to Buddhists throughout the world. None celebrate the occasion with such gusto as the Sri Lankans.

Nature’s forces are a grim reminder that humanity is at the mercy of such external factors and man can make it worse. In the midst of grandiose plans for a Megapolis in the Western province, thousands of families have been flooded out of their homes or marooned by swirling waters after just two days of incessant rains and some showers thereafter. The death toll is still rising.
Many man-made reasons are attributed to the flooding and landslides, not least haphazard ‘development’, bad urban planning, corruption within local councils and the pressure of population on available land.

Continue reading The need for a Disaster Prevention Ministry

Weather mayhems are so predictable, and the entire island seems so vulnerable

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

By Rajan Philips

The SLAF acted swiftly to rescue a group of people marooned in the Tabbowa area. Helicopters were deployed in several areas to rescue people affected by torrential rains(pics courtesy SLAF media)

Floods and landslides have become more frequent than ever before. Our generation (post-war baby boomers) grew alongside a different rhythm of weather (not of heart) tragedies – 1947, 1957, 1964, 1978, 1986, and so on. Tsunami (2004) greeted the millennials and the weather gods have taken to more frequent devastation ever since. The odd thing about the current climate calamity is that it has struck virtually the entire island with the same intensity and at the same time. One newspaper report listed in full – 22 of the 25 districts as affected areas. Ampara, Batticaloa and Moneragala are the spared ones. And the source of the trouble – Cyclone Roanu, located in the Bay of Bengal, also seems odd for this time of the year. It has brought torrential rains to Sri Lanka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and finally Bangladesh.

Continue reading Weather mayhems are so predictable, and the entire island seems so vulnerable

El Nino has intensified dry spell: Met Dept.

Original Article: Link

By Yohan Perera


warm_map.jpgThe current dry spell experienced in the country is a result of the EL Nino phenomenon, the Department of Meteorology said yesterday.

A duty forecaster from the Department told the Daily Mirror that the dry weather normally prevailed at this time of the year brought on by the dry winds which blows from the North but said it had intensified this year as a result of the El Nino.

Continue reading El Nino has intensified dry spell: Met Dept.

Devastating monsoon flooding from Sri Lanka to northwest Australia

Original Article: Link

Author: Tom Di Liberto

January 23, 2015

When it comes to monsoonal rainfall, the saying “when it rains, it pours” is usually an apt description. With that said, the rains that fell across Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand, and Australia during the second half of December and beginning of January were unusually heavy, even for this extremely wet region of the globe.

From December 14 through the first two weeks of January, more than 39 inches (1000 mm) of rain fell in parts of Malaysia. On the Malay Peninsula, in just 24 hours between December 21-22, the city of Kuantan observed up to 10 inches (255mm) of rain.


monsoon map.png
Total rainfall (left) and percent of normal rainfall (right) for the Maritime Continent from December 14, 2014, through January 13, 2015. Torrential rains displaced hundreds of thousands when monsoon rains coincided with the enhanced phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation. Maps by NOAA, based on data from the NOAA/CPC Unified Rain Gauge Analysis.

The rains extended as far south as the remote Dampier Peninsula in northwestern Australia, where, during the beginning of January, more than 400mm fell in 24 hours in Cape Leveque. The 400mm nearly double the previous 24-hr January record at the station. In fact, the number could have even been higher except the rain gauge overflowed. It was the tenth highest daily rainfall amount on record in Western Australia. Overall, rains since December 14 were 150-600% of normal across Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand and northern Australia.

Continue reading Devastating monsoon flooding from Sri Lanka to northwest Australia

Sri Lanka seeks ways to turn El Niño pain into gain for farmers

Original Article: Link


Tue Jan 5, 2016 7:31am

POLONNARUWA, Sri Lanka (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Rice farmer Weerasinghearchchilage Darmarathana is used to periodic flooding in his low-lying village of Galella in central Sri Lanka.

The 60-year-old has lived all his life on the flood plains of the country’s longest river, the Mahaweli, in Polonnaruwa District, some 250 km (155.34 miles) northeast of the capital Colombo.

Continue reading Sri Lanka seeks ways to turn El Niño pain into gain for farmers