ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 40

Unusual weather brought on by El Nino: Met official

By Nadia Fazlulhaq

Sri Lanka is experiencing the impact of a mild El Nino - a temporary change of climate in the Pacific Ocean - where the ocean temperature goes up by a few degrees making an impact on the world’s climate, a senior Met. Department said.

“Weather forecasters warned there will be a mild El Nino, an oceanographic phenomenon which will be active in 2006 to 2007 off the Peru coast. It was believed the El Nino will last from March 2006 to June this year. An El Nino takes place when the temperature increases with the sea levels too increasing” said Dr. B.R.S.B. Basnayake of the Centre for Climate Studies of the Met. Department, adding that the warm ocean current usually comes first to the coasts of Peru and Ecuador in South America.
“There are several impacts of El Nino, like droughts, cyclones, flooding and severe lightning. That was the reason there was a drought situation associated with forest fires in Australia, with even some parts of Sri Lanka experiencing high temperatures and some parts experiencing heavy rains and floods. Indonesia experienced a series of disasters. Usually in the Caribbean seas there are around 26 hurricanes but last year it increased to 29 with some of acute force”, he said.

Dr. Basnayake said global warming too contributed in a major way to extreme climatic changes around the world.

“During the north-east monsoon the eastern parts like Batticaloa and Trincomalee experience heavy showers. Usually during this monsoon the western slopes of the central hills experience a high temperature, but surprisingly this year it’s extreme” he said.

Some parts of Matara experienced hail, lasting around half an hour, on February 26 while Batticaloa experienced heavy rains a few days ago but was suddenly experiencing high temperatures and the western slopes of the central hills were facing a drought situation.

He confirmed that the El Nino this time was a mild one and would not have strong effects like in 1982-83 when it greatly affected a large number of people worldwide.

Met. Department Deputy Director S.H. Kariyawasam said that even though the eastern parts of the country were experiencing the north-east monsoon it was at the tail end.

“We will experience some showers with severe lightning and also some high temperatures. Due to global warming and other climatic changes there will be unexpected changes in the weather. When clouds go up to a height of 20,000 feet it will reach freezing point (0% Celsius) creating snow and when it rains there can be conditions where hail may fall,” he said.

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