El Nino Is Looking Scarily Like 1997's El Nino

That's not good
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2015 9:10 AM CST
Updated Jan 3, 2016 2:05 PM CST
El Nino Is Looking Scarily Like 1997's El Nino
These images provided by NASA satellites compare warm Pacific Ocean temperatures from the strong El Nino that brought North America large amounts of rainfall in 1997, right, and the current El Nino.   (NASA via AP)

The El Nino weather system of 1997-98 was so bad that descriptions of it sound like something out of a Ben Affleck disaster movie: Australia turned into a slow cooker, California and Peru were pummeled with rain, and there were rampant fires in Indonesia; around 23,000 people perished from the combined effects around the world, per NBC News. Now NASA is warning that this year's El Nino could be just as bad, if not worse, with a Dec. 27 satellite image of sea surface heights indicating there could be severe droughts, floods, and other weather events that could cause humanitarian emergencies, NBC reports.

"The El Nino weather system could leave tens of millions of people facing hunger, water shortages, and disease next year if early action isn't taken to prepare vulnerable people from its effects," Oxfam says in a press release. The worst of what the Smithsonian calls a "menacingly familiar" system is expected to start affecting the US in early 2016, NASA says, with a Weather Channel producer telling NBC the system could produce a "wetter and stormier California," as well as extreme weather on the East Coast. (It's even worse than we originally thought.)

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