Sri Lanka’s weather is tropical: hot and humid. Having said that, we must hasten to add same couldn’t be said of the whole expanse of the Indian Ocean Island. Climatically Sri Lanka is divided into two zones: the dry zone that spreads over the Northern plains, North central plains, eastern plains and northern and eastern coastal belt. The Wet Zone that encompasses south western region and the single mountain mass of the island that is aptly called the Central Highlands.
Sri Lanka’s weather patterns are generally well-defined. However weather in the global scale moving in with widespread climatic changes, in Sri Lanka too it could rain unexpectedly: when it ought to be sunny and it could be raining and when it ought to be raining, it could be sun shine.
Temperature in Sri Lanka
The location of the Island of Sri Lanka being just above the equator, the average temperature is quite high. Average temperature in Sri Lanka fluctuates between 27° and 29° Celsius. As everywhere, sea-winds exert a moderating influence. The areas of the Central Highlands are of varying levels of temperature in accordance with the altitude: Kandy
(altitude 500m), the average temperature is 20°C, while Nuwara Eliya
(at 1889m) has a temperate 16°C average. Warm clothes are essential in the Central Highlands.
Humidity in Sri Lanka
Between December and March, monsoon winds come from the northeast, bringing moisture from the Bay of Bengal. Humidity is typically higher in the southwest and the Central Highlands and depends on the seasonal patterns of rainfall. In the coastal areas such Colombo experience daytime humidity above 70% all year round, rising to almost 90% during the monsoon season in June. Anuradhapura experiences a daytime low of 60% during the monsoon month of March, but a high of 79% during the November and December rains. In the highlands, Kandy’s daytime humidity usually ranges between 70% and 79%.
Rainfall in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka lies 400 miles north of the equator and is affected by two monsoon seasons caused by the winds originating from the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. The monsoon weather patterns in Sri Lanka ensure that some beaches of the coastal belts are always in season for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
From May to August the south-west monsoon originates from the Indian Ocean brings rain to the island’s southwestern half wet zone, receive ample rainfall (an annual average of 250 centimeters.
From October to January the north-east monsoon blows, bringing rain to the North and East. Most of the southeast, east, and northern parts of the country comprise the dry zone, which receives between 120 and 190 centimeters of rain annually.
When to go in Sri Lanka
November to March
The principal tourist season in Sri Lanka is during November to March when it is the dry season for South western and Southern beaches and the Central Highlands. November through March are also the months when most foreign tourists visit, the majority of them escaping the European winter. During the Christmas to New Year holiday season, in particular, accommodation rates at tourist hotels hit the highest levels all over the island in view of the sharp upsurge of inward traffic of tourists into the island. Advance booking of hotel rooms during this period is highly recommended.
April to September
The secondary tourist season that span from April to September suits well to tour in the ancient cities of the north Central Plains and the eastern coast.
July/August is the time of the Kandy Esala Perahera, the 10-day festival held in homage to the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha, and also the time for the Kataragama festival in the South. In both towns, accommodation just before, during and immediately after the festivals is very difficult to come by. Rates could shoot up to double or still higher. The tourists wishing to arrive in Sri Lanka during this period are advised to make bookings of hotel rooms well in advance.
Such is Sri Lanka’s climate, tourists will find the right beach anytime of the year somewhere in the island: when it is offseason in western and Southern coast, the Eastern coast of Sri Lanka rise up to the occasion.
Sri Lanka Climate Guide to the Average Weather & Temperatures
* Colombo, Sri Lanka latitude & longitude; 6°54’N 79°52’E.
* Altitude; 7 m (23 ft).
* The average temperature in Sri Lanka is 27.0 °C (81 °F).
* The range of average monthly temperatures is 2 °C.
* The warmest average max/ high temperature is 31 °C (88 °F) in February, March, April & May.
* The coolest average min/ low temperature is 22 °C (72 °F) in January & February.
* Sri Lanka receives on average 2397 mm (94.4 in) of precipitation annually or 200 mm (7.9 in) each month.
* On balance there are 188 days annually on which greater than 0.1 mm (0.004 in) of precipitation (rain, sleet, snow or hail) ocurrs or 16 days on an average month. The month with the driest weather is January when on balance 88 mm (3.5 in) of rain, sleet, hail or snow falls across 8 days.
* The month with the wettest weather is October when on balance 354 mm (13.9 in) of rain, sleet, hail or snow falls across 21 days.
* Mean relative humidity for an average year is recorded as 79.8% and on a monthly basis it ranges from 75% in January to 83% in October.
* On balance there are 0 days annually registering frost in Sri Lanka and in January there are on average 0 days with frost.