90% Chance of El Niño

The global weather phenomenon known as El Niño has a 90 percent chance of happening this year, according to the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. El Niño, which occurs when large amounts of water in the Pacific Ocean become warmer than usual, can have devastating effects. Predictions include weaker monsoon rains in India, hurting its already precarious food supply, even more severe droughts in Australia, and collapsed fisheries off South America. However, El Niño may be welcomed in North America, as its rains could bring an end to extended droughts in California and the Midwest. “The amount of warm water in the Pacific is now significant, perhaps the biggest since the 1997-98 event,” said the ECMWF. The late ’90s El Niño was the hottest recorded in the 20th century, and led to a mass die-off of coral reefs.