Image: Dead fish in river with little water
Antonio Scorza  /  AFP-Getty Images
In Brazil, this year's El Nino has been blamed for drought that has lowered water levels and killed fish in the Solimoes River near Manaquiri.
updated 12/1/2009 6:35:51 PM ET 2009-12-01T23:35:51

The weak to moderate El Nino weather system in the tropical Pacific Ocean has strengthened considerably and could create droughts and floods around the world until May, a U.N. agency said Wednesday.

The phenomenon of warmer surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean can affect monsoons and hurricanes, causing droughts in some places and floods in others, said Rupa Kumar Kolli of the World Meteorological Organization.

He said it was difficult to predict specific impacts in different regions, because El Nino is not the only factor that determines weather even if it is one of the most dominant.

More accurate regional forecasts are provided by national weather services that take El Nino into account, Kolli said, but he noted that El Nino has been associated with weaker monsoons in Asia.

The current El Nino started in June and became moderate by September, with sea surface temperatures about 1.8 Fahrenheit above normal in the eastern and central Pacific, he said.

"During October, almost all indicators of El Nino became noticeably stronger," Kolli said.

Water temperatures continued to warm in the area, while farther to the west they dropped bellow normal, he said.

"Taken together, these developments indicate enhanced ocean-atmosphere coupling during this El Nino event across the tropical Pacific," Kolli said.

He said that an example was a very weak summer monsoon in South Asia that led to drought conditions in the region.

Kolli had said earlier that El Nino would also likely lead to the weak Atlantic hurricane season recorded this year.

But, he cautioned, "no two El Nino events are alike."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments