WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION FOR PARTICIPANTS ONLY
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION WRD/PTC.35/Doc. 3 (1)
FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC (23.IV.2008)
WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones
5 to 9 May 2008 ENGLISH ONLY
REVIEW OF THE 2007 CYCLONE SEASON
Country Report – Sri Lanka
1. REVIEW OF THE 2007 TROPICAL CYCLONE SEASON (Agenda Item 6)
There were no significant cyclonic circulations directly affecting island weather, although
depressions brought considerable rain, during the year 2007.
A disturbance originated in the Arabian Sea by 6 April and took a zigzag path to move
across the island to emerge in the Bay of Bengal by 8 April and re- entered the island to dissipate by
late 11 April. A depression in the Bay of Bengal was active from 14 to 16 April. A low pressure area
in the South East Bay of Bengal further deepened into a depression and moved towards Myanmar
during 30 April to 06 May. A low level disturbance forming just North of Sri Lanka on 02 May also
caused a lot of rains with flooding, injuring 09 people and 17 deaths in the southwest coastal areas.
A depression was in the Eastern Bay of Bengal with yet another during 12-14 May, resulting in very
heavy rains, floods and landslides in Sabaragamuwa province with the heaviest 24 hour fall of 224.3
mm in Anhettigama, and then deepening in to a cyclonic circulation (AKASH) on 13 May. Another low
pressure area in the Arabian Sea deepened into a cyclonic system (GONU) and moved towards
Oman during 31 May – 06 June, land-falling on 5th.
Very windy conditions prevailed over the island during 19 to 26 June due to a formation of a
depression in the West-central Bay of Bengal that later crossed Andra Coast on 22nd and continued
in the Arabian Sea re-strengthening into a Tropical Cyclone (YEMYIN) to continue Northwestward,
until crossing Pakistan Coast (land-falling on 26th), a very long track for a cyclonic disturbance in the
region. Another low pressure area in Northwest Bay of Bengal on 26th June crossed Orissa coast by
29th as a depression and further moved overland to dissipate on the next day.
A mild disturbance in the low levels in the vicinity of Sri Lanka by 22 July brought a lot of
rains in many parts of the island but there was no cyclonic activity in August in locality with
September again becoming disastrous with fairly heavy rains and strong winds in the southwest of
the country due to a disturbance that moved from East of Sri Lanka to West on 09th. A low level
disturbance in the Bay of Bengal east of Trincomalee on 22 October many part of the country
experienced fairly heavy rain. Again by 27th a depression caused strong winds and minor damages in
the southwest part of the country. Another spell of heavy rains on 2 and 3 November was due to
another mild disturbance that moved from east to west from south Bay of Bengal; minor floods in the
southern parts caused hardship to local community.
Cyclone SIDR that developed in preliminary stages in the Andaman island area on 9
November moved away from Sri Lanka, but gave fairly widespread rains with thunder and lightning
activity along with unusually cold weather.
Most anticipated MAHA cultivation seasonal rains came as a relief with a low pressure area
that developed in to a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal by 13 December. Many places in the
North, East and South were inundated on 17 and afterwards, due to incessant rains.
WRD/PTC.35/Doc. 3(1), p. 2
Over-all, cyclonic activity in the vicinity of Sri Lanka was relatively low during the year, and
the rainfall was about or above normal only in North-central and Central provinces and isolated parts
of East, Uva and Sabaragamuwa provinces and extreme South.
2. METEOROLOGICAL COMPONENT (Agenda Item 8.1)
Telecommunications: Data and information exchange with the RTH New Delhi point to point link
operated without disruption. Reliability is now excellently improved with the new upgraded GTS
system (256kbps) established in June 2007 as an USAID project. It has four sub systems, namely,
Communication Server which is installed in Communication Centre, 2 Visualization Terminals that
are connected to the National Meteorological Centre and the Duty Forecaster, and a Visualization
aero, established at the Colombo International airport respectively. The information includes
meteorological data, weather charts, forecasts and tsunami warnings and SADIS information.
The basic design study of the project (2007-2009) for improvement of meteorological disaster
information network (both AWS and communication) on a Japanese Government Grant (JICA) was
completed in 2007 and the opening of tenders and evaluation commenced in January 2008.
Synoptic Observations: Data reception from 20 operational stations was very good except during
few occasions due to security reasons in some Northern stations. Observations taken and sent in
plain language by Sri Lanka Navy at Trincomalee (43419) are coded at NMC. Out of five RBCN
stations, a silent station for CLIMAT TEMP data, Colombo (43466), due to non-availability of
continuous data is pending re-activation (no replacement station is available). Nine RBSN stations
are operational except for Vavuniya (43415) where night observations are curtailed due to security
Upper-air Observations: Radar wind observations in Colombo (43466) were carried out throughout
except for few isolated incidents. Sonde observations were not possible due to lack of consumables
but these are now available with kind supply by the IMD. Up-gradation of the system by the IMD is
pending. Pilot balloon observations at Hambantota (43497) and Puttalam (43424) were done
satisfactorily at 0000, 0600 and 1200 UTC. Curtailed pilot balloon observations at Trincomalee have
been replaced by new observations at Anuradhapura (43421) in January 2008, now continuing
Meteorological Satellites: HRPT receiver of NOAA imageries is still defective and State funds are
sought for replacement. FENGYUNCast satellite receiving system funded by WMO/ Government of
China, is being installed at present.
Ships and Aircraft Reports: Ship Reports are still not received at Colombo radio shore station, as
latest INMARSAT capabilities are not present in Colombo but many are received through RTH.
AIREPs reception at Airport Meteorological office is poor but whatever received is transmitted to
WAFS centres regularly.
(a) Improvement of Facilities/ Technical Advancements
Automatic telemeter rain gauge station network connecting 5 stations (locally developed) in
landslide prone areas are installed in NMC in August 2007. Setting up of 20 more telemeter rain
gauges, with solar panels at locations vulnerable to landslides, are in progress and near completion.
See 5 (b) (i)- 8 below.
Preliminaries to place an order for a Lightning Detection Network system were over by end
of 2007 but held up due to budgetary constraints, this year 2008.
Part payment was made to WMO trust fund for the procurement of Doppler radar with MOU
signed between WMO and the Ministry. An expert visited island in September to find a suitable
location for the radar installation.
WRD/PTC.35/Doc. 3(1), p. 3
Sites selected and construction work has been started in December 2007 at two new
meteorological stations, Polonnaruwa in the North-central province and Monaragala in the East, both
are paddy cultivation areas. The work is scheduled to be completed in mid –2008.
Relocation of synoptic observation station Badulla (43479) was accomplished in May 2007
while Mannar (43413) new building construction was completed in June 2007.
Installation of a disaster management related GIS system under a project funded by USTDA
is being implemented at NMC in December 2007.
Storm surge model, the new version as per WMO/ESCAP training received, is operational
as a routine at the NMC.
3. HYDROLOGICAL COMPONENT (Agenda Item 8.2)
The Hydrology Division of the Irrigation Department collects hydrological data that enables
quantification of surface water hydrology analyse and archive these data as the only such institution
concerned with surface water measurements in the island.
At present this division is collecting surface water levels hourly at 69 Hydrometric stations
and calculating daily average river discharges from 40 stream gauging stations located at 17 major
river basins and it covers over 60% of the total basin area of the island. The Hydrological data thus
collected is made available for water resources development, planning and research work. In addition
to the above work Hydrological Division collects daily rainfall records from 35 rain gauges, out of
which 30 gauges are established in stream gauging stations. This division maintains 10 evaporation
pans also to collect daily evaporation records and maintains two weather stations.
Improvement of Facilities and Technical Advancements, Flood Forecasting and Warning
The following computer packages are used for water resources planning, Hydrological
Modelling and data processing.
1. MIKE II Hydraulic Model
2. HEC HMS
3. HEC RAS
4. HEC DSS Vue
5. MIKE BASIN
In addition to above, monitoring and measuring high flood levels, discharge measurements
during floods and flood mapping of most of the main river basins are carried out by this division.
4. DISASTER PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS (DPP) COMPONENT (Agenda Item 8.3)
In addition to the activities by the SLMD on this topic, Disaster Management Centre (DMC)
has related objectives as Hazard Mapping and Risk Assessment, Long-term Disaster Mitigation,
Preparedness to respond to disasters when they occur and Emergency Operations Management.
Senior Meteorologists/Directorate with Electronics Engineer took part in several Special
inspection visits to severe lightning damage areas on request, to educate the community on basics
and protection methodologies against lightning. In addition, takes part in all related activities by the
DMC and the National Disaster Relief Services Centre (fore-runner to DMC). A session with the
Media personnel pre-cyclone season boosted awareness among journalists and general public. Early
warnings were issued to DMC and other relevant authorities with lead-time to facilitate disaster
managers to act expeditiously.
SOP for hydro-meteorological events are being developed with signal number system
introduced, for Cyclones and Tsunami presently.
WRD/PTC.35/Doc. 3(1), p. 4
Disaster Events in Brief
Spells of rain led to flooding and earth slips in the Southwest, parts of Central and
Northcentral and the East during the year, affecting 295,344 persons, reporting injuries and at least
31 deaths. In addition, about 12 deaths and 09 injuries were recorded due to lightning. Strong winds,
sometimes associated with tornadoes claimed 04 deaths injuring about 30 people and damaging
more than 500 houses.
About 450 persons were displaced when Palliyawatte island in the West coast was
inundated by a tidal wave on 16th May evening. The low lying areas of the island went 3 to 4 feet
under water. Nearly 150 fisher families had to abandon their homes.
Seismic activity was another feature during the period of concern, with a tremor of Richter
scale magnitude 5.8 about 1300 km south-southeast of South Sri Lanka and a tremor of Richter
scale magnitude 5.2 about 300 km East of East Sri Lanka in Bay of Bengal. Several tremors were
also felt in the Southern half of Sri Lanka during 20th July 2007, two minor earth tremors were
reported in Hambantota District causing minor damages to some houses.
(a) DPP Activities by National Disaster Relief Services Centre (NDRSC)
Floods claimed the highest proportion of financial allocation in 2007 also (65%, in
comparison to ~ 62% in year 2006), with Landslides (9.27%), Droughts (8.18%) and Cyclones
(7.25%) being other natural hydro-meteorological disasters. Droughts also are becoming a major
issue in the country with no proclaimed national authority, but SLMD presently taking over.
(i) Financial Assistance for Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Activities- 2007
Type of Disaster Allocation (Rs) Percentage of Total
Floods 159,111,089.00 65.33%
Landslides 22,586,775.00 9.27%
Droughts 19,921,772.00 8.18%
Cyclones 17,662,054.00 7.25%
Civil Conflicts 13,148,854.00 5.40%
Other Relief Assistance 4,166,869.00 1.71%
Other Wide-spread Disasters 2,098,325.00 0.86%
Fires 1,390,970.00 0.57%
Sea Erosion 1,279,695.00 0.53%
Minor Disasters 933,490.00 0.38%
Relief Assistance to Families 827,810.00 0.34%
of Missing Fishermen
Accidents 417,205.00 0.17%
Total Allocation 232,454,532.12 100%
(ii) Programmes for Mitigation of Disasters
In order to make farmers aware of efficient use of water, 61 farmer organizations from
Divisional Secretary Divisions adversely affected by water scarcity problem were introduced with
widespread water supply systems donated by China.
Rain water storing tanks, 50 in Trincomalee district and 25 in Anuradhapura district were
supplied in 2007. A ground well and 5 tube-wells to benefit 75 families were constructed in Batticaloa
district under Drought Impact Reduction Programme.
WRD/PTC.35/Doc. 3(1), p. 5
(iii) Educational and Training Programmes on Disaster Management
Educational awareness and training programs were conducted from national level to rural
level to include rural level leaders as well.
(b) DPP Activities by Disaster Management Centre (DMC)
Staff released from Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force & STF) is manning DM units with senior
level Military/ Police officers placed as coordinators in each of the districts, under the supervision of
Government Agents/ District Secretaries. In addition to above contract/ secondment staff, temporary
service personnel are attached to DMC for early response operations.
(i) Programmes of Disaster Management
1. Final draft of the National Policy was submitted and discussed at the National Council for
DM at the meeting held on 30th July 2007 and to be finalized.
2 Drafts of the National Disaster Management Plan at different stages have been discussed
with stakeholder agencies.
3. Disaster Information System (DisInventer) created with the assistance of UNDP and data
collected from 1974 to date with the following agencies involved in National level data validation and
additional data collection.
· Department of Meteorology
· Epidemiological Unit of the Ministry of Health
· Department of Social Services
· Department of Wildlife Conservation
· Colombo Municipal Council
· National Building Research Organization
· Fire Services Department of Colombo Municipal Council
However data has been collected for 12 districts including Ampara, Batticaloa and
Trincomalee. Eventually DisInventar was officially launched on 25th May 2007 by accessing in to the
Internet. Computers for data entry and access were handed over to the nine districts where data
validation was completed.
4. Sri Lanka Disaster Resource Network (SLDRN) is a web-based resource inventory with
controlled access to the database. 289 items, mainly consisting of equipments, human resources
and critical supplies are categorized in the system. The data related to these items are collected from
the line departments and various organizations at the district level. The data is entered in to the web
portal at the district level.
5. Development of Risk Profile in Sri Lanka in which National Building Research Organization,
Irrigation Dept., and Coast Conservation Dept., are in the process of developing the hazard maps for
Landslide, Flood and Tsunami respectively.
6. National Safety Day was declared by the Government as 2007 26th of December to focus
on disaster reduction awareness.
7. Korean funded Environmental project is to enhance the productivity and long-term protection
of ecosystems while improving the quality of life of the communities affected by tsunami through
community participation in environmental management. Activities will focus on organic farming (home
gardens), waste disposal and recycling, establishing linkages with markets for organic produce, and
recycled products, tree planting, and rain water harvesting.
WRD/PTC.35/Doc. 3(1), p. 6
8. Ratnapura Landslide Early Warning System is a pilot project started by the UNISDR
assistance. Under this project DMC is responsible for installing rain gauges, SLMD/NBRO to collect
automated data and finally NBRO to analyse data and issue early warning. See 3 (a) above
9. The initial awareness workshop has been conducted for Central Provincial Disaster
Preparedness and Response Plans while PDPRPs and District Disaster Management Preparedness
and Response Plans for seven districts are near in completion and awareness workshops have been
conducted in another 15 districts.
Development of Divisional DPRPs in 82 divisional secretary divisions has been commenced
in 14 districts.
10. Prioritized project proposals for mitigation works in Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara and
Hambantota districts that were severely affected by flood in 2006 and 2007 were commenced and in
a. Drought Mitigation activities such as Construction of 88 Rainwater Harvesting tanks
and 32 nos underground tanks and several water supply scheme were completed
at several Districts.
b. Establishment of Natural Barrier by Planting of trees along the South-western
coastal belt is in progress and some are already completed.
c. Studies to mitigate land subsidence and land slides in Central province were
undertaken and some are already completed while in others more than 50% is
(ii) Training and Public Awareness
1. DMC staff has been trained locally (169 persons) and foreign (59 persons).
2. Different target groups for training included staff of Disaster Management Coordinating
Units, The District and Divisional Secretaries, The Grama Niladhari, Vulnerable communities,
Disaster Management Committee members, Police, the Political hierarchy of the Provincial Councils
and Local Government Authorities, Officers of the Line Ministries, Media personnel, School Children,
School Teachers, Principals, Hospital staff etc.
3. Staff working in the district disaster management coordinating units (DDMCU) has been
given the basic DM training of 3 days duration, funded by UNDP. Nearly 200 personnel trained which
included newly recruited civilian District Coordinators, Co-coordinating Assistants newly recruited
UNVs and military personnel.
4. Pilot project for Training of Trainers (TOT) for school teachers of Kalutara and Galle
districts have been planned in collaboration with the Fund for Relief and Development (FRD) for the
last quarter. Video clips on tsunami, cyclones, landslides, drought, and floods will be completed
during the last quarter for distribution to DDMCs as standard training material. These will be
integrated to core disaster management training material as a standard training tool kit by the end of
the year with the help of UNDP and BCPR, India.
5. Capacity building at village level includes volunteers affiliated with the Grama Niladharis,
Disaster Management Committees. Training covers First Aid, Life Saving, Out-bound training. A
large number of mock drills for evacuation in response to a tsunami early warning were conducted by
the DDMCs for coastal communities.
School preparedness planning
Ten (10) one day workshops for brainstorming to design the preparedness plan have been
conducted for School Principals and School Teachers in districts of Badulla, Kegalle, Kurunagala,
Matale, Moneragala and Polonnaruwa. Selected teachers from the schools in the districts are
WRD/PTC.35/Doc. 3(1), p. 7
expected to be given a 3-day training and the draft School Preparedness Plan formulated. Thereafter
mock drills for selected hazards will be carried out and video documented for replication in all
Awareness creation for stakeholders
1. Disaster Management awareness programmes has been conducted for the Divisional
Secretaries for Kalutara, Kegalle, Kurunegala, Matale and Nuwara Eliya districts and, Elected
Members of Local Government Authorities of Kurunegala District and, Community Leaders of
Anuradhapura district and, Hospital staff of Matale Hospital for hospital preparedness with UNDP
funding with UNDP funding. Also for NGO participants in Ampara District in collaboration with the
Green Movement and Youth Corp members of Polonnaruwa district with Youth Corp funding. Also for
Police Officers in the districts of Kegalle, Matale and Nuwara Eliya and, Mass Media campaigns for
the World Disaster Safety Day in October and the National Safety Day in December and School
awareness programmes on request.
2. Awareness Creation Material were printed in Sinhalese/Tamil/English with GTZ funding in
August 2007 for Tsunami, Landslides, Floods, Cyclones, Lightning and 5 cartoon books for children
(Sinhalese and Tamil) developed with Practical Action on Floods, cyclones, landslides, tsunami and
sea erosion and some other material with UNDP funding.
ICS Training at District Level
In November 2007, the US Forest Service Resource Persons completed training 30 Sri
Lankan Trainers on Incident Command System in Disaster Management. The Disaster Management
Centre selected the districts of Ampara, Kandy, Galle and Hambantota as pilot districts to introduce
ICS. Two workshops were organized in Galle and Kandy for officials from these four districts.
ICS simulation exercise in Galle: On 27 June 2007 a simulation exercise to respond to a
severe flood situation using the Incident command System was carried out in the Galle district. The
District Secretariat Galle was supported by the BOI office in Habaraduwa. The National ICS trainers
together with the US Forest Service Resource Persons conducted the simulation.
(c) DPP Activities by Irrigation Department
As one of the most harmful disasters, flood hazard maps for Galu Ganga area are
developed using hand held GPS instruments.
Under the comprehensive study of disaster Management in Sri Lanka, eight hydrological
Observation Centres in Kelani Ganga Basin are provided with Automatic rainfall and water level
recorders with telemetry system under the assistance of JICA, in order to obtain real time data for
real time flood warnings.
The Hydrology Division of the Irrigation Department installed 04 Automatic Rainfall
recorders with Loggers, and 04 Bubble in Sensor instruments with data loggers for water level
monitoring in Maha Oya, Kelani Gnaga and Attanagalu Oya Basins, under Water Resources
Management Project funded by ADB.
Hydrology Division of the Irrigation Department operates flood warning system for Kelani
Ganga to safeguard the city of Colombo from floods of Kelani Ganga and operates flood alert system
for Kalu Ganga, Gin Ganga, Nilwala Ganga, Deduru Oya and Mahaweli Ganga. A study is carried out
to upgrade the existing standing orders related to these systems and also to prepare a drainage
Management plan for Bolgoda Basin under IHP UNESCO.
5. TRAINING ACTIVITIES (Agenda Item 8.4)
Officers from the SLMD attended following conference/seminar/workshop/training events
sponsored by the WMO since March 2007.
WRD/PTC.35/Doc. 3(1), p. 8
1. Post graduate training in Meteorology, Australia, WMO/VCP, 5 February 2007-15
2. WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones, Male, WMO/ESCAP, 25 February 2007-1
3. Aviation Meteorology, Beijing, China, WMO, 6 March 2007- 8 March 2007
4. Int. Conf on Secure and Sustainable Living: Social and Economic Benefits of Weather,
Climate and Water. Madrid, Spain, WMO, 19 March 2007- 22 March 2007
5. Expert Meeting on gender management, WMO, 26 March 2007-29 March 2007
6. 15th WMO Congress, Geneva, Switzerland , WMO 7 May 2007-25 May 2007
7. Training in storm surge forecasting, WMO/ESCAP, 20 August 2007-2 September 2007
8. CLIMSOFT training workshop, Vietnam, WMO, 12 November 2007-7 December 2007
9. Expert meeting on NMHS participation in DRR, Geneva, WMO, 26 November 2007- 28
10. Training in AWS networking, Hong Kong, China, WMO, 26 November 2007- 30 November
11. WMO symposium on PWS: a key to service delivery, Geneva, WMO, 3 December 2007-5
SLMD has planned to conduct a series of awareness/ training sessions on disasters and their
implications and impacts, in order for observers in regional officers be ready and equip with
Two positions to train Meteorological Observers of SLMD in general meteorology have been
generously offered in mid-2007 by the PMD. The date for the commencement of the course is yet to
be informed and the Government of Sri Lanka express its sincere thanks to the Government of
6. RESEARCH ACTIVITIES (Agenda Item 8.5)
1. Predicting Storm Surges along Sri Lankan Coasts for 1964, 1978, 1992 Cyclones
2. Studied about onset, withdrawal and fluctuation of Southwest monsoon using Monsoon Index.
3. Predicting monthly rainfall (next month) using Climate Predictability Tool (CPT).
7. NEW JOINT INITIATIVES (Agenda Item. 8.6)
Multi-hazard early warning towers erected with the trust funds of UNESCAP/Korea Government, are
expected to use for dissemination of fisheries forecast from 2008.