Extreme weather expected as El Nino climate pattern returns, US forecaster says

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Temperatures could surpass high of 2016, with risks including droughts, cyclones and serious disruption to food production

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The last time an El Nino was in place, in 2016, the world saw its hottest year on record. Coupled with warming from climate change, 2023 or 2024 could reach new highs.

NOAA calls an El Nino when ocean temperatures in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific have been 0.5 degrees higher than normal for the preceding month, and has lasted or is expected to continue for another five consecutive, overlapping three-month periods. The agency also looks at a weakening of the trade winds and cloud cover.

NOAA said there is a 56 per cent chance that when this El Nino peaks in strength – normally during the Northern Hemisphere winter – it will be a strong event, meaning that Eastern Pacific sea surface temperatures are at least 1.5 degrees higher than normal.Still, impacts vary and El Ninos come in “two flavours”, said atmospheric scientist Marybeth Arcodia at Colorado State University.

Early signs of hot, dry weather caused by El Nino are threatening food producers across Asia, while American growers are counting on heavier summer rains from the weather phenomenon to alleviate the impact of severe drought.Experts say that a strong El Nino could hit sugar production in India and Thailand, and possibly disrupt the sugar cane harvest in Brazil. They also see risks for coffee production in Vietnam, the world's second-largest producer.

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