UN Agency Sees No Rapid Development of El Nino Source: PlanetArk, 30 August 2004
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Fears of a new El Nino, a phenomenon that brings extreme weather patterns, are unfounded despite unusual ocean temperatures which often herald the devastating weather anomaly, the World Meteorological Organization said.
El Nino, Spanish for “boy child,” is a periodic, abnormal warming of water in the Pacific Ocean, which can last up to 18 months.
The last one, from May 2002 to March 2003, caused record rains in Europe and Australia’s worst drought in a century. In the United States, it aggravated drought in the Plains states and unleashed heavy storms in the south and east.
The World Meteorological Organization, an agency of the United Nations, said that unusually warm sea surface conditions in the central-western Pacific were countered by unusually cool conditions in the east.
“There are no consistent, basin-wide weather patterns that would indicate El Nino,” said a spokeswoman, citing a preliminary report to be published by the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization, which gathers and analyzes global weather data.
The report may ease concerns that another El Nino, which in the past has caused billions of dollars of damage through droughts and floods, is forming.
Tuesday, U.S. government forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it expected a weak El Nino pattern to develop by the end of August.
But the World Meteorological Organization said contradictory temperature indicators made any rapid El Nino development unlikely.
While warming conditions had affected the western Pacific lifting sea surface temperatures by one degree Celsius on average, cooler-than-normal water in the eastern Pacific equatorial region up to South America made El Nino unlikely, the spokeswoman said. “Any rapid development of El Nino is unlikely,” she said. “We will be watching it like a hawk.”
A severe El Nino in 1997-1998 triggered severe drought in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia and rampant flooding in Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia. The weather pattern was blamed for the deaths of hundreds of people.