Speed Reads

wild weather

Scientists say it's extremely likely an El Niño will affect the world's weather in 2014

There is a 90 percent chance that a global El Niño will hit in 2014, The Guardian reports. An El Niño starts as a huge pool of warm water swelling in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon that triggers weather events around the world. It's not clear what makes the unstable Pacific Ocean-atmosphere system turn into an El Niño, but weaker trade winds that blow to the west are a key component.

In India, under El Niño conditions, it's likely that weaker monsoon rains will cause problems for the country's food supply, while Australia will probably see soaring temperatures and droughts. It's not all disastrous, though: The western half of the United States could see the rain that is so desperately needs.

This El Niño is being predicted by the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts, which The Guardian says is considered one of the most reliable prediction centers. Principle scientist Tim Stockdale says it's "very much odds-on for an event" because of the high level of warm water in the Pacific, but "what is very much unknowable at this stage is whether this year's El Niño will be a small event, a moderate event — that's most likely — or a really major event."

The last major El Niño hit in 1997 and 1998, and about 23,000 people were killed worldwide due to droughts, cyclones, floods, and wildfires. Read more about the impact of an El Niño, especially on countries like India and Australia, at The Guardian.