Extreme weather hit SL last year | Sunday Observer

Extreme weather hit SL last year

Sri Lanka is the world’s second most affected country by extreme weather events in 2017, with the Ratnapura district suffering the worst in the country, according to the latest global report released last week.

The Long-Term Climate Risk Index 2019, published by Germanwatch and launched at the annual climate summit in Katowice city in Poland on December 5, lists Puerto Rico and Sri Lanka as the top two affected countries followed by Dominica in 2017.

Sri Lanka has jumped two positions as it was ranked fourth in the Climate Risk Index in 2016.

According to the new report, heavy landslides and floods occurred in the country following strong monsoon rains in south-western regions in May last year.

“Over 200 people died after the worst rains on the Indian Ocean island since 2003. The monsoons displaced more than 600,000 people from their homes and 12 districts were affected,” the report states adding that “The inland southwest district of Ratnapura was the most affected where over 20,000 people faced flash floods.”

The report also stated that less developed countries are generally more affected than industrialised countries, while storms and their direct implications – precipitation, floods and landslides – were one major cause of damage last year.

“Over 526 000 people died as a direct result of more than 11,500 extreme weather events; and losses between 1998 and 2017 amounted to around US$ 3.47 trillion (in Purchasing Power Parities),” the report stated.

The new report analyses to what extent countries and regions have been affected by the impact of weather-related loss events such as storms, floods and heat waves. The report has taken into account information from 1998 to 2017 to compile the list.

Of the ten most affected countries and territories (1998–2017), the report states, eight were developing countries in the low income or lower-middle income country group, one was classified as an upper-middle income country (Dominica) and one an advanced economy generating high income (Puerto Rico).

The frequency of heat waves has increased in large parts of Europe, Asia and Australia, while the number of heavy precipitation events had risen in most land regions. This is the case especially in North America and Europe, the frequency or intensity of heavy precipitation events has increased.

“Regarding future climate change, the Climate Risk Index may serve as a red flag for already existing vulnerability that may further increase in regions where extreme events will become more frequent or more severe due to climate change,” the report stated.