The chance that an El Niño will form this year for the first time since 2010 is now at 65 percent, according to the U.S. Climate Prediction Center, and it could be one of the strongest events ever recorded.
The event could have global climate implications, helping cause drought in Australia and Southeast Asia and a warm winter in North America. El Niños can also disrupt palm oil, sugar, cocoa and coffee production in Asia and South America, with heavy rains cutting into harvest times and drought limiting yields.
This would be the first El Niño since 2009-10, which helped set a U.S. heat record, breaking the 2005 mark that was also an El Niño year.
Todd Crawford, principal scientist at Weather Services International, said he was "fairly bullish" about the chances of an El Niño event this year. He added that there are "many parallels" between observations this year and the 1997 El Niño, the strongest event since records began in 1950.
"There is a 95 percent chance of at least a weak El Niño event developing in 2014," Crawford added (Brian K. Sullivan, Bloomberg, April 24).
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Hurricane Maria will likely come close enough to North Carolina to trigger gusty winds and rain, while unleashing dangerous seas elsewhere along the East Coast this week.
A cold front will spread needed rainfall across drought-stricken parts of eastern Australia during the middle of the week.
The cold front that is expected to whisk Hurricane Maria back out to sea after it nears North Carolina will trim the summerlike warmth out of the midwestern and northeastern United States this week.
Emergency officials in Puerto Rico evacuated tens of thousands of people on Friday afternoon due to an imminent dam failure in the nearby areas of Isabela and Quebradillas, following Hurricane Maria's devastating blow.
Tropical Storm Pilar is expected to churn up rough seas and raise the risk for flooding downpours across southwestern Mexico this week.
Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes on the Indonesian island of Bali due to fears of Mount Agung potentially erupting.
Recent earthquakes near North Korea’s nuclear test site have raised questions as to how far radioactive material would travel if an underground atomic explosion triggers a leak.
While no new threats are lurking behind Maria and Lee this week, residents of the Caribbean and United States should not let their guard down as tropical season is far from over.