China predicts moderate El Nino to bring rain, drought

China predicts moderate El Nino to bring rain, drought
El Nino affects wind patterns and can trigger both floods and drought in different parts of the globe, hitting crops and food supply.

BEIJING - China's weather bureau said it expects the El Nino conditions this year to cause heavy rainfall in the south and create drought-like conditions in the north, but unlike 1997-98 the intensity of the phenomenon would be moderate. "The event will last until autumn, with medium to strong strength, but it will not be as strong as the event during 1997-98 which was the strongest in history," the China Meteorological Administration said at a report on Friday.

El Nino, a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific basin, can disrupt weather across the entire ocean. In 1997-98, it caused the worst flooding along China's Yangtze River in half a century, killing thousands as swollen rivers burst their banks and destroying crops.

This year, the bureau forecasts serious flooding during summer in the middle reach of the Yangtze River, the country's major rice and cotton area, as well as areas along Songhuajiang River in the northeast, a major corn and rice area.

The majority of north China and parts of northwest are most likely to be hit by drought in summer, it said. "North China may have higher-than-normal temperatures during summer, but the extreme hot weather will not last long or hit a large area," it said.

The El Nino event, formed in May 2014, has reduced the number of typhoons in summer last year and led to a warmer winter during 2014/15, according to the report.

Since spring this year, the event has led to serious drought in parts of Guangdong and Guangxi, the country's top sugar production area, it said.

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