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02 Dec 2020 | 05:41 PM UTC

Sri Lanka: Cyclonic Storm Burevi tracks in the Bay of Bengal toward Sri Lanka December 2 /update 1

Sri Lanka News Alert

Cyclonic Storm Burevi tracks in the Bay of Bengal toward Sri Lanka on December 2; landfall expected in Northern District

TIMEFRAME expected from 12/2/2020, 12:00 AM until 12/4/2020, 11:59 PM (Asia/Colombo). COUNTRY/REGION Sri Lanka

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Cyclonic Storm Burevi is tracking westward in the Bay of Bengal toward Sri Lanka Dec. 2. As of 1730 IST, the storm was located approximately 682 km (423 miles) east of Cochin, India. Forecast models indicate the system will maintain strength as a cyclonic storm over the coming days; Burevi is expected to make landfall in the Northern District of Sri Lanka Dec. 3. Following landfall, Burevi will continue to track westward as it enters the Gulf of Mannar, with a subsequent landfall being forecast in southern Tamil Nadu State, India, late Dec. 3 or early Dec. 4. The storm will likely dissipate Dec. 5. Some uncertainty remains, and the track and intensity forecast is subject to changes over the coming days.

Government Advisories

As of Dec. 2, the Sri Lanka Department of Meteorology has issued red-level weather warnings for heavy rainfall in the Northern, North-Central, Eastern, and North-Western districts. Orange-level warnings are in effect for all other districts except for the Southern District, which is under a yellow-level warning. For Dec. 3, orange-level warnings have been issued for the North-Central, Eastern, and other districts, while red-level warnings have been issued for the Northern and North-Western Districts and other provinces. Red- and orange-level warnings are in effect across Sri Lanka through at least Dec. 3. Additionally, the Indian Meteorological Department issued red- and orange-level warnings for heavy rain, thunderstorms, and strong winds in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Kerala. Authorities will likely issue new warnings or update existing advisories throughout the system's progression in the coming days. Weather warnings could remain active even after the system's immediate threat has diminished, as some areas may still be highly susceptible to rain-induced hazards.

In advance of the storm, residents in low-lying areas of Kerala state, India, have been ordered to evacuate; further, localized evacuation orders may be issued as Burevi approaches the region.

Hazardous Conditions

The storm will bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and rough seas to much of southern India and Sri Lanka through at least Dec. 5. Forecast models indicate widespread rainfall totals of 25-50 cm (10-20 inches) are likely across the hardest-hit areas near the center of circulation, including northern and central Sri Lanka, and southeastern Tamil Nadu. Lower amounts of 10-25 cm (4-10 inches) are forecast in interior Tamil Nadu, while 5-10 cm (2-4 inches) are expected in southern Sri Lanka and Kerala State, India. Locally higher totals are possible in areas that experience persistent bands of thunderstorms. Flooding is especially possible in low-lying communities near streams, creeks, and rivers, as well as in urban areas with easily overwhelmed or a lack of stormwater drainage systems and in locations that were previously impacted by Cyclonic Storm Nivar. Sites located downstream of large reservoirs could experience flash flooding after relatively short periods of intense rainfall. Rain-induced landslides are possible in steeply sloped terrains. Flooding could isolate some communities for several days. Prolonged swells and storm surge generated by the system will likely result in coastal flooding. Persistent onshore flow could make it difficult for a surge to recede and for water levels to decrease in coastal river catchments .

In addition to the heavy rain, flooding, and storm surge, the system will likely produce damaging wind gusts up to 40 knots (74 kph, 46 mph), especially in areas near and to the north of the center of circulation. Widespread and prolonged power outages due to uprooted trees and toppled utility lines are possible.


In addition to the immediate threat to personal safety, inclement weather associated with the storm could trigger localized business, transport, and utility disruptions through at least Dec. 3 in Sri Lanka and Dec. 5 in southern India. Floodwaters and debris flows may render some bridges, rail networks, or roadways impassable, impacting overland travel in and around affected areas. Disruptions triggered by inclement weather and resultant hazards, such as flooding, could persist well after conditions have improved. If there is severe damage to infrastructure, repair or reconstruction efforts may exacerbate residual disruptions. Heavy rain and low visibility may trigger flight disruptions at regional airports.


Stagnant pools of water during and after flooding increase the incidence of insect- and waterborne diseases, such as dengue fever, cholera, and malaria. The threat of these disease outbreaks is usually elevated in the low-income or underdeveloped areas of major urban centers due to the presence of incomplete or open sewer lines. The latent threat of waterborne contaminants from inundated industrial sites cannot be discounted; exposure to raw sewerage and other hazardous materials mixed with floodwaters poses a serious health threat.


Activate contingency plans in areas where officials forecast tropical storm conditions. Heed all evacuation orders. Use extreme caution in low-lying coastal areas and near streams, creeks, and other waterways due to the high potential for severe flooding and storm surge. Stockpile water, batteries, and other essentials in advance. Charge battery-powered devices when electricity is available; restrict the use of cellular phones to emergencies only. Power down mobile devices when not in use. Keep important documents in waterproof containers. Observe strict food and water precautions, as municipalities could issue boil-water advisories following flooding events. Take precautions against insect- and waterborne diseases in the coming weeks. Keep any necessary medications in a waterproof container.

Plan accordingly for protracted commercial, transport, and logistics disruptions in areas in the path of the storm, especially if vital infrastructure is damaged. Seek updated information on road conditions before driving or routing shipments through areas where flooding has occurred. Confirm flights before checking out of hotels or driving to the airport; clearing passenger backlogs may take several days in some locations.


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