Dangerous heat stress away from the Hills of Sri Lanka since April
The general public in Sri Lanka has been inconvenienced due to hot weather being experienced in some parts of the country to a noticeable degree in the past six months. Hot weather in Sri Lanka is increasing dangerously in 2019. We have identified the locations to be cautious of the hot weather in Sri Lanka for the first six months of 2019. The Heat Index (HI) has been calculated by using relative humidity and temperature and this is a measure of how hot it really feels on the body when relative humidity is factored with the actual air temperature.
When considering the pattern of HI in the island, Comfort Level can be recognized in the stations situated in Central Highland mainly at Nuwara-Eliya, Diyathalawa, and Kandy than sea level and intermediate zones. HI values are varying with the seasonal rainfall and environment lapse rate which are occurring with the nature of the topography and orography.
The monthly HI is varying from comfortable level to danger level for the first six months of 2019. In January to March, Caution Level can be identified in some parts of the Northern, North Central provinces and some coastal areas. Higher temperature value from April – June is responsible for increased HI values. In this period, HI values have been gone up to Danger level in some parts in Northern province and Extreme Caution Level can be identified in North Central, Eastern, and North-Western provinces and coastal areas.
We have obtained a mean annual cycle of HI values to understand the pattern of heat index value events over the year. These annual cycles are characterized by means of monthly HI values over the period 1986 – 2016. An upward shift in the HI values is noticeable throughout the first 6 months in 2019. According to the HI chart, April to July can be acknowledged within Danger and Extreme Caution Levels while the rest of the year within Comfort and Caution Levels for the period 1986-2016.
Sri Lanka’s weather is tropical and climatically the island is divided into two monsoonal seasons which bring rain to the west and south-west coasts from May to September; and the east coast and northern region between October and February. The rest of the year is sunny and dry. Temperatures are fairly constant year round, with coastal regions enjoying average temperatures of 25-30°C and the highlands 15-18°C on average.
However, the general public has been inconvenienced owing to the hot weather being experienced in some parts of the country to a considerable degree for the past one and half weeks.
The Department of Meteorology has issued several heat weather advisories warning the people in 14 districts to be extremely cautious of the hot weather.
According to the heat advisory issued by the Med Department, the 14 districts that are likely to be affected are Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Anuradhapura, Puttalam, Polonnaruwa, Kurunegala, Monaragala, Batticaloa, Ampara and Hambantota.
The department warned that those living in these areas should avoid venturing outside too much during the next few days, particularly in the morning hours as heat strokes, cramps and heat exhaustion were some of the after effects that could occur if precautions were not taken.
Several areas including Matale, Gampaha, Colombo, Kalutara, Galle and Matara would also experience dry weather and residents were warned to take extra precautions when being out in the open in these areas as well.
The maximum temperature so far has been 35.4°C and was reported from the Puttalam district.
The department warned that those living in these areas should avoid venturing outside too much during the next few days
Heat Index Forecast
The Meteorology Department said that the Heat Index Forecast is calculated by using relative humidity and maximum temperature and this is the condition that is felt on the body.
This is not the forecast of maximum temperature. “lt is generated by the Department of Meteorology for the next day and is prepared by using global numerical weather prediction model data,” Met Department said.
The relative humidity of the air is the amount of water that is present in the air compared to the greatest amount it would be possible for the air to hold at that temperature.
The situation would last till May ends. Speaking to the Daily Mirror Deputy Director of the Meteorology Department and Director forecasting Anusha Warnasuriya said that the following four factors mainly caused for the prevalence of the hot weather.
Calm of the wind
Increase in humidity in low atmosphere that leads to increase sweating
Loss of shade with clouds in day time leads to directly fall sunlight onto the ground
The wind blows from the sea.
“This situation would last till the end of May and would fully decay on the verge of South-west Monsoon,” Warnasuriya said.
She added that people living in the Northern Province and coastal areas would feel the hot the most.
Meanwhile, an official of the Meteorology Department said that a temperature exceeding 40°C might also be experienced in the future.
He said that there have been several occasions in the past where a temperature exceeding 40°C had been reported.
The relative humidity of the air is the amount of water that is present in the air compared to the greatest amount it would be possible for the air to hold at that temperature. The situation would last till May ends
Tips to beat heat related illnesses
The Department of Meteorology with the assistance of the Ministry of Health, issued a recent bulletin on precautionary measures to be taken during the warm weather. Instructions were given to increase the intake of liquids while avoiding exposure to hot sun as much as possible
Let’s follow these instructions to avoid excessive heat
Wear long sleeved clothes which cover the body adequately to prevent body getting from being exposed to the sun.
Stay under a shade, whenever possible
During outdoor activities in the day time, take following precautions.
I . Use an umbrella
II. Wear a wide brimmed hat
III.Wear standard sunglasses
IV. Apply sun screen (SPF-Sun Protecting Factor 30 or above) at least 30 minutes before you go outdoors. According to product instructions, you may reapply whenever necessary.
If engaged in daily outdoor activities such as agriculture and construction related work, make sure you wear light colored, loose fitting clothing which covers your body adequately.
Have a daily bath. Take a shower couple of times a day.
Try to restrict outdoor activities as much as possible during day time. Try to plan these activities in early morning or during evening hours.
When you stay outdoors, remember to stay in the shady areas whenever possible.
Discourage school children from engaging in outdoor activities when the sun is shining brightly.
Don’t leave children or your pets in the parked vehicle, especially in cars even with an opened window, since cars parked outside can easily heat up and may cause heat related illnesses.
Keep a basin of water near the fan indoors which will help to reduce evaporation of water from your body.
Let’s follow these instructions to stay hydrated
Drink plenty of fluids more than your daily usual intake.
Drink fluids frequently. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty.
Each time you urinate, remember to rehydrate yourself by drinking water.
Stay away from very sugary or alcoholic drinks, since these causes you to lose more water from body.
Be alert on the following discomforts you may get due to heat
Small red colored rash look like pimples on the skin (especially around the neck, chest. groin or elbow crease) – (Heat Rash)
Warm, red colored painful skin (Sun Bum)
Muscle cramps or muscle pain
Vomiting or nausea
Excessive weakness or tiredness
The Health Promotion Bureau has requested the general public to seek medical advice immediately if they experience these discomforts mentioned above.
High risk groups requiring special attention
Infants and young children
People 65 years of age or older
People who are overweight and obese
People who are exert during work or exercise
People who are physically ill (Especially who are with heart disease or high blood pressure)