SYDNEY Climate models show an increased chance of a 2014 El Nino weather event, said Australia's bureau of meteorology, leading to possible droughts in Southeast Asia and Australia and floods in South America, which could hit key rice, wheat and sugar crops.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said an El Nino could occur during the southern hemisphere winter, May-July, with Australian cattle and grain farmers already struggling with drought which has cut production.
The last El Nino in 2009/10 was categorized weak to moderate. The most severe El Nino was in 1998 when freak weather killed more than 2,000 people and caused billions of dollars in damage to crops, infrastructure and mines in Australia and other parts of Asia.
"The latest climate model survey by the shows that the tropical Pacific is very likely to warm in the coming months, with most models showing sea surface temperatures reaching El Nino thresholds during the southern hemisphere winter," the BOM said in an emailed statement.
Australia's outlook echoes similar forecasts from other weather bureaus in Japan and the United States, which each said an El Nino was increasingly like.
(Reporting by Colin Packham)