Weather in Sri Lanka – Best time to visit Sri Lanka
Planing travel to Sril Lanka, you do need to know Weather in Sri Lanka. The best time to visit Sri Lanka is during December & February. The climate in the lowland areas are cooler, it’s the season for the West Coast beaches and has moderate rainfall. Having said that Sri Lanka is a year round destination. During July to September, during the European and Middle Eastern summer, the tourism industry is at its busiest with many traveling to enjoy the crystal blue waters of the East coast beaches. The rest of the year too visitors can enjoy the sun, travel to different parts of the island and enjoy similar experiences with less crowds at cultural sites and without the peak-period surcharges.
The coastal regions and the lowland areas of Sri Lanka is always relatively hot and humid. On the central mountain region of the island the temperature reflects the degree of cloud cover. In Nuwara Eliya, over 2000 meters up in the central highlands, the average daytime temperatures hover around 16 degrees Celsius, but you need to be prepared for the chill in the evenings. Only the northeast occasionally experience temperatures of above 38 degrees Celsius.
Ideally, when you are packing for your Sri Lankan holiday, pack for a hot tropical climate. That’s cotton or linens, modest/decent (Sri Lankas are generally conservative and you might want to be respectful with your choice of clothes) shorts and singles, stick to light colours that won’t absorb the hot sun, plenty of sun block, hats and sun...
If you are planning on visiting Nuwara eliya or the Mountain region of Sri Lanka a pull-over cardigan and a few socks is all you may need.
Sri Lanka’s location, just north of the equator, places it on the main track of the two monsoons which dominate South Asia’s weather systems. Derived from the Arabic word mausim(meaning season), the ‘monsoon’ is now synonymous with ‘rains’. Strictly however it refers to the wind reversal which replaces the relatively cool, dry and stable northeasterlies, characteristic from Oct to May, with the very warm and wet southwesterlies from May to October. However, the northeasterlies, which originate in the arid interior of China, have crossed over 1500km off the Bay of Bengal by the time they reach Sri Lanka, and thus even the northeast monsoon brings rain, especially to the north and east of the island.
Nearly three quarters of Sri Lanka lies in what is widely known as the ‘dry zone’, comprising the northern half and the whole of the east of the country. Extensively forested and with an average annual rainfall of between 1200-1800 mm, much of the region does not seem unduly dry, but like much of southeast India, virtually all of the region’s rain falls between October and January. The rain often comes in relatively short but dramatic bursts. Habarana, for example located between Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura received 1240mm (nearly 20inches) of rain in the three days around Christmas in 1957. These rains caused catastrophic floods right across the Dry Zone.
The ‘Wet Zone’ (the mountains and the southwestern part of the country) also receives some rain during this period, although the coastal regions of the southwest are in the rain shadow of the Central Highlands, and are much drier than the northeast between November and January. The southwest monsoon sweeps across the Arabian Sea like a massive wall of warm moist air, often over 10,000m thick. The higher slopes of the Central Highlands receive as much as 4000 mm during this period, while even the coastal lowlands receive over 500 mm.
From late October to December cyclonic storms often form over the Bay of Bengal, sometimes causing havoc from the southern coast of India northwards to Bangladesh. Sri Lanka is far enough south to miss many of the worst of these, but it occasionally suffers major cyclones. These generally come later in the season, in December and January and can cause enormous damage and loss of life.
The Wet Zone rarely experiences long periods without rain. Even between the major monsoon period’s widespread rain can occur. The occasional thunderstorms bring short cloudbursts to the south and southwest between March and May, and depressions tracking across the Bay of Bengal can bring heavy rain in October and November.