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12 November 2010

Floods Displace 260,000 People in Colombo

Heavy precipitation on the Sri Lankan capital has displaced more than a quarter of a million people. Damaged and destroyed buildings, power outages, flooded streets, at least 20 fatalities and the threat of water-borne disease have brought the city to a stand still. Parliament was suppose to be in session today, but that has been canceled. Some reports call it the worst flooding in almost 20 years. 24 hour rainfall observations show 44.5 cm or 17.5 in fell on the city. So, what happened?

Well to be straight forward, nothing out of the ordinary. Heavy downpours like this are not unusual across Sri Lanka. This incident was so isolated that I cannot find any evidence of the storm cell using various satellite products. The significance is that this deluge was collocated with a major city. The clean up from this storm will take some time, but the damage has been limited to parts of the greater Colombo area. In other words, this is not a Sri Lanka wide disaster.

Things will remain wet during the coming week, as is the norm for this time of year. Colombo, and Sri Lanka as a whole, receive significant amounts of rain throughout the year. May, October and November are the wettest months in the city. Each month, on average, brings over 300 mm or 12 in of rain.

Photos from CNN and Xinhu.

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