This Year’s El Niño Is On Track To Rival The Worst On Record

The El Niño of 1997-98 was the worst on record. It caused an estimated 23,000 deaths worldwide as widespread drought, flooding and other natural disasters rocked the globe.

The catastrophic weather system also caused the most devastating coral bleaching in recorded history, killing off about 16 percent of the world’s reef systems. In the U.S., the total economic impact of that year’s El Niño was between $10 billion and $25 billion.

Sounds bad? Well, according to NASA, we may now be facing an equally-destructive El Niño; one that’s poised to only worsen in the first few months of 2016.

The weather system — which has already wreaked havoc globally, contributing to the East Coast’s balmy Christmas, deadly storms in the South and the worst floods in South America in 50 years – “shows no signs of waning,” NASA wrote on Dec. 29.

The agency added that the latest satellite image of this year’s super El Niño “bears a striking resemblance to one from December 1997.”

“The images show nearly identical, unusually high sea surface heights along the equator in the central and eastern Pacific: the signature of a big and powerful El Niño. Higher-than-normal sea surface heights are an indication that a thick layer of warm water is present,” it wrote.

With the very worst of the droughts, flooding and other extreme weather events expected to come in the coming months, humanitarian organizations have expressed concern about the mounting needs of the world’s most vulnerable.

Aid organization Oxfam International said that the effects of this year’s El Niño are “set to put the world’s humanitarian system under an unprecedented level of strain in 2016.”

“The El Niño weather system could leave tens of millions of people facing hunger, water shortages —> Read More