The El Nino taking hold across the Pacific strengthened, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, citing indexes of sea-surfaces temperatures that showed the same trend for the first time since the event in 1997-1998. All five NINO indexes, averaged over the past four weeks, exceeded plus 1 degree Celsius, the bureau said in its fortnightly update on Tuesday. That’s the first time this has occurred since the 1997-1998 El Nino, the bureau said. 

Australia this month joined the U.S. and Japan in declaring that the first El Nino since 2010 had begun. The 1997-1998 event was the strongest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The weather patterns can bake parts of Asia, hurting crops from rice to palm oil, while crimping the hurricane season in the Atlantic and bringing more rain across the southern U.S.“The area of warm anomalies in the tropical Pacific now more resembles a classical El Nino pattern,” the bureau said. “Sea-surface temperatures will remain well above El Nino thresholds at least into the southern hemisphere spring.” FULL REPORT