ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka may get sufficient water for the upcoming main 2023/2024 main ‘Maha’ cropping season helped with extra rain that usually comes in El Niño years, based on past trends, a top weather official said.
Sri Lanka is currently going through a dry period with weak rainfall in the tail end of the South West monsoon period. Paddy farms in some areas experienced water shortages late in the season.
The monsoon winds have not yet ended. Dry weather is forecast in the immediate coming days. There are reports of tighter drinking water supplies in some areas.
Sri Lanka’s Department of Meteorology is forecasting inter-monsoonal rains from late October.
About 30 percent of the country’s rainfall comes from the inter monsoonal rains in the period, says Deputy Director Shiromani Jayawardena.
During El Niño years, which involve warmer sea temperatures in the Southern Pacific Ocean, Sri Lanka has tended to get higher rainfall in the key period running up to the Maha season in the past.
“El Niño affects different countries in different ways,” Jayawardena told EconomyNext. “Some countries get more rain, others less.”
In October and November Sri Lanka tends to get more rain, in El Niño years.
Up to 30 percent of the country’s rainfall may come from inter monsoonal rains from around October, she says.
READ MORE: What is El Niño?
Sri Lanka saw bumper rice harvests 2015 and 2016, which were El Niño years. Sri Lanka also got good rainfall in 2019.
However, climate change effects may impact long term trends, she said.
Weather is predicted on the basis of probabilities. The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration is predicting a strong El Niño phenomenon running through 2024 with a high degree of probabilities, based on observed sea warming patterns up to August.
Short term weather in Sri Lanka can also be affected by other regional phenomena.
The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), another phenomenon relating to sea temperatures in the Western Indian Ocean, is another factor that impacts precipitation.
The IOD is also turning positive, which is also favourable for rain, Jayawardena said.
An IOC negative event can lead to low rainfall or actual droughts.
In 2017 the Maha rice crop failed due to an IOC negative event that began in the second half of 2016. It coincided with the so-called La Nina event in the Southern Pacific. (Colombo/Aug20/2023)