Weatherwatch: why Sri Lanka’s climate varies so much despite its size

·1 min read

With a land area half the size of England, Sri Lanka may be dwarfed in size by its neighbour India, but the island still boasts a variety of different climates within its borders.

Overall, the climate is typically tropical, with average daily maximums in the commercial capital, Colombo, of around 30C (86F) all year round, and minimums ranging from 15C in winter to 22C in summer. Rainfall is mostly in spring and autumn.

Just 107 miles (170 km) to the east, the hilltop resort of Nuwara Eliya lies at an altitude of 1,880 metres (6,170 feet). This means temperatures are on average around 10 degrees cooler than Colombo. The cool and quite wet summers in the highlands made Nuwara Eliya a popular retreat during colonial times, when it became known as Little England. The area is also where most of Sri Lanka’s tea is grown.

Further north, the coastal resort of Trincomalee is even warmer than Colombo, but the cooling effects of breezes that blow off the sea in the afternoon make the heat bearable. Rainfall is less than a third that of Colombo.

Like India, Sri Lanka experiences the effects of the seasonal monsoons, bringing some rain between October and January in the north-east and from May to September in the south-west.

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