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Renewed flooding in Sri Lanka kills 11, affects 1.05 million

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 10:21 AM GMT on February 07, 2011

Renewed flooding in Sri Lanka due to heavy monsoon rains has killed at least 11 people and inundated the homes of 1.05 million people over the past week. The floods occurred over the central, north, and east portions of the island, and have the potential to devastate the rice crop and cause hundreds of millions in damage. Many of the areas affected were also hard-hit by January's 100-year flood, which killed 43 people, affected over 1 million people, and did at least $500 million in damage. Those floods destroyed 21% of Sri Lanka's rice crop. Heavy rains from the annual northeastern monsoon are common in the region from December through February, but this year's rains have been enhanced by the strong La Niña event occurring in the Eastern Pacific. According to the United Nations, the rains in January in Sri Lanka were the heaviest in nearly 100 years of record keeping. The flood that resulted was a 1-in-100 year event, according to The U.N. Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. Rainfall at Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, during the 42-day period December 1 - January 12 was 1606 mm (63"), which is about how much rain the station usually receives in an entire year (1651 mm, or 65".) Satellite estimates of rainfall over Sri Lanka for the first week of February show that up to 12 inches (300 mm) of rain has fallen. The latest rainfall forecast from the GFS model projects that a tropical disturbance (91B) near Sri Lanka will bring an additional 1 - 3 inches of rain to the flood area this week, so the flood waters will be slow to recede.

Figure 1. AP video of the latest flooding in Sri Lanka.

Jeff Masters


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