9 May 2014

Strong El Niño forecast in north Pacific

3:28 pm on 9 May 2014

Weather officials tracking El Nino weather patterns say the north Pacific should brace itself for drought, coral bleaching and an increase in the likelihood of typhoons.

The Pacific Climate Centre on Guam says the atmosphere and ocean are already exhibiting features that indicate the early stages of a strong El Nino event starting mid-year.

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Photo: RNZ

It says a major Micronesia-wide drought is likely to begin as the El Nino reaches maturity, beginning in western Micronesia late this year and spreading to all islands by early 2015.

It says the risk of a typhoon affecting nearly all islands and atolls will increase dramatically, and very warm temperatures under conditions of blue skies could lead to coral bleaching.

It says the developing El Nino could be the strongest since 1998.

That event caused almost six months of drought in the Marshall Islands, resulting in a government declaration of disaster and provision of emergency water and food aid.