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Climate and Weather

Cities in SRI LANKA


Climate and Weather

Due to its location close to the equator, the island has a tropical monsoon climate. The climate is influenced by the mountain ranges in the middle of the island and by the monsoon winds that change every six months. The south-west monsoon or 'yala' blows from the south-west to the low-pressure area north-east of the island from mid-May to the end of September. From October to the end of April, the north-east monsoon, or 'maha', blows from exactly the opposite direction, namely from the north-east. This phenomenon is caused by shifting of the place with the lowest air pressure around the equator.

In the low areas, the temperature is highest. On the coast it is a bit cooler because of the sea wind and in the mountains the temperature is most pleasant. In general, however, Sri Lanka has even temperatures throughout the year ranging from 26-30°C. For example, the average temperature of the capital Colombo on the west coast is 27°C, with a temperature difference of only two degrees between the coldest and hottest month.

On the (south) west side, the south-west and north-east monsoons bring a lot of rain (1480-2240 mm; Colombo has an annual average of 2365 mm); the driest month here is February, the wettest is May.

The lowlands in the north and east, as well as the eastern part of the central highlands form a dry zone: here, the rain is mainly brought by the north-east monsoon and during the south-west monsoon, there is an - often severe - dry period from May to July. In total, there is less than 1000 mm of rainfall per year, of which not much remains due to enormous evaporation. Monsoon rains usually fall in the form of heavy but short showers.

January is the coldest month, April and May are the warmest. High in the mountains, it can sometimes freeze slightly in December and January.


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Last updated May 2024
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