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El Nino weather menace looms for frail economies


An aerial view of the flooded outskirts of Trinidad, Beni, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) northeast of La Paz, February 22, 2007. A nascent El Nino weather cycle threatens to wreak more economic havoc and disrupt raw material production across a wide swath of the world, evoking memories of the killer edition of 1998.

El Nino weather menace looms for frail economies

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A nascent El Nino weather cycle threatens to wreak more economic havoc and disrupt raw material production across a wide swath of the world, evoking memories of the killer edition of 1998.

The timing could not be worse. This El Nino appears to be developing as the world is struggling to emerge from the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. Eleven years ago, a damaging El Nino occurred in the middle of the Asian financial crisis which roiled financial markets.

“El Nino is a little bit like recession: you are in it before you can say you have one. If it continues as it is now, the historians will say the El Nino started in May,” said David Jones, head of climate analysis in Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. Jones said they could declare an El Nino in weeks.

During El Nino, an abnormal warming of the waters of the equatorial Pacific unhinges weather patterns in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. A La Nina weather pattern, in which waters cool, was in place last year.

In 1998, El Nino-related storms, floods, tornadoes and mudslides killed more than 2,000 people and caused billions of dollars in damage to crops, infrastructure and mines.

Michelle L’Heureux, head of the U.S. Climate Prediction Center which tracks El Nino, said this version may not approach the one in 1998, the strongest weather anomaly in 150 years. The CPC is an office under the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

If the anomaly does recur with severity, drought in Asia could lift grain prices, which are already near historic levels due to supply shortages, while storms that would disrupt crude production in the Gulf of Mexico may be minimized.

Mike Palmerino, U.S. agricultural meteorologist with DTN Meteorlogix, added: “This one has a little more going for it. But a year ago at this time it looked like we were building toward an El Nino and everything just totally fell apart toward the end of the summer, where all the Pacific circulation patterns changed and we actually slipped back into a La Nina.”


Some forecasters fret that an early sign of this El Nino is the weak annual monsoon plaguing India, one of the world’s biggest producers and consumers of everything from sugar to soybeans.

The monsoon rains are the lifeblood for farmers in India. Its faltering sugar crop is a prime reason why sugar prices are at their highest levels in three years.

China typically turns to South America for soybeans during the U.S. growing season. But the 2009 crops from Brazil and Argentina are suffering from drought and U.S. soybean stocks are at a 32-year low — less than two weeks of normal commercial supply.

Shawn McCambridge, grains analyst with Prudential Bache Commodities in Chicago, said the El Nino could “dry out the second half of 2009 in Australia and it can also affect South American production.

“It’s developing a little too late to really have much of an impact on the Northern Hemisphere, but the concern would be in the Southern Hemisphere (crops),” he said.

Indonesia, one of the biggest producers of palm oil and a large consumer of sugar and rice, faces drought.

Australia is one of the world’s biggest wheat producers and has barely recovered from the worst drought in 100 years which hit a few years ago.

Rob Imray, general manager of grain trading and agricultural risk management firm Farmarco, said the Australian wheat crop is off to a good start but the southern areas could suffer if no rain arrives in August and September.


Severe floods may disrupt mining operations in Chile, the world’s biggest copper producer, and Peru, among others.

India is the world’s biggest gold buyer when farmers, whose annual income is tied to the monsoon, buy the metal for the festival of lights celebrating the end of their harvest in November.

Still, Andrew Montano, a director at bullion dealer ScotiaMocatta in Toronto, said, “the bulk of the demand is coming from international investors, more so than from the Indian subcontinent.”

In the United States, El Nino could funnel wind shear into the Atlantic basin and hinder storm formation during the annual hurricane season.

Vernon Kousky, former head of the CPC, said there could “be a suppression of Atlantic hurricane activity, provided that further intensification of El Nino occurs during the next couple of months.”

A strong El Nino could lead to a mild winter in the Northeast, the world’s biggest heating-oil market. The snow pack in the Western United States may also suffer and affect hydroelectric power generation.

But Stephen Schork, editor of The Schork Report in Pennsylvania, said the weak economy would mute the weather phenomenon’s impact on energy markets.

“There’s just a lot of supply out there,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Bruce Hextall and Michael Perry in Sydney, Frank Tang and Rebekah Kebede in New York, Christine Stebbins in Chicago, and Naveen Thukral in Singapore)

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El Nino May Ease Worst Texas Drought, Cut Florida Storm Risk


El Nino May Ease Worst Texas Drought, Cut Florida Storm Risk

El Nino, The return of an El Nino climate pattern to the Pacific Ocean may relieve the worst Texas drought in 90 years and may reduce the threat of hurricanes ravaging orange groves in Florida.

El Nino, characterized by warming waters in the Pacific, “could bring relief” in the fall and winter to Texas, where farms are suffering from the lack of rain, the National Weather Service said July 16. The El Nino will last through the Northern Hemisphere winter and into 2010, presaging winter storms in the Southwest and a reduction in Atlantic hurricanes, the U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said July 9.

The threat of weather damage to U.S. crops helped send cotton to a 10-month high on July 21 on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, while orange-juice prices have surged 39 percent this year. Texas, which has lost $3.6 billion from the current drought, is the nation’s biggest cotton-growing state. Florida is the world’s largest grower of oranges after Brazil.

El Nino “would be a good thing for Texas,” said Drew Lerner, the president of forecaster World Weather Inc. in Overland Park, Kansas. “It would assure planting would occur more normally. There are less hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin in an El Nino year.”

Fewer storms also reduce the threat of damage to oil and natural-gas rigs scattered throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Crude- oil futures jumped 40 percent in 2005, touching a record high after Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf.

Rain Aids Crops

Rain during the winter months helps Texas crops because the soil holds the moisture until planting in the spring, said Roger K.Haldenby, the vice president of operations for Plains Cotton Growers Inc. in Lubbock, Texas. Parts of the state have been in a drought since November 2007, according to the government.

Previous El Ninos have helped boost cotton production. After the climate pattern last developed in 2006-2007, Texas yielded 843 pounds of cotton per acre, more than at any time in at least five decades, according to government data.

“When there is a developing El Nino, in past years we’ve definitely noticed the southern part of the U.S., specifically Texas and the high plains of Texas, benefit from increased rainfall,” Haldenby said. “It’s a very important weather phenomenon for us. A wet winter from El Nino sets up the situation well for the following growing season.”

Ranchers Need Rain

Rains from El Nino also may help Texas ranchers reduce the cost of raising cattle by improving pastures, reducing the need to purchase hay or feedgrain. The state is the biggest U.S. cattle producer.

“We would hope it hurries up and develops,” said Bill Hyman, a rancher and executive director of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas in Lockhart. “When you are ranching in a drought, you pay attention to weather. Hay costs about twice what it was in the last wet year.”

A bale of hay weighing 1,200 pounds (544 kilograms) costs $55 to $70 during a dry year, compared with $30 to $35 when rain aids pastures, Hyman said.

One of the first indicators of how El Nino conditions will affect the U.S. will be hurricane activity in the Atlantic next month, said Mike Palmerino, a senior agricultural meteorologist for Minneapolis-based DTN Meteorlogix LLC. The hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

Tropical storms gather pace in the Atlantic Ocean in August and peak around Sept. 10, said Chuck Caracozza, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Miami.

“If the tropical-storm-and-hurricane season is less active than normal, that will tell us this El Nino has the ability to impact weather patterns” later in the year, Palmerino said.

Citrus Crops

Florida’s orange production in the 2006-2007 season fell to the lowest since the 1989-1990 crop year after hurricanes ripped through groves in 2004 and 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Florida citrus growers, and really anyone tied to agriculture, are obsessive weather watchers,” Andrew Meadows, a spokesman for grower group Florida Citrus Mutual in Lakeland, said in an e-mail. “I’m sure they are following the El Nino patterns. If the forecast is fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic, then that’s terrific news and one less risk growers have to worry as much about.”

Palmerino, the DTN Meteorlogix forecaster, said a strong El Nino also may bring more rain to help ease a drought in California, the largest agricultural state, which produces everything from milk and beef to lettuce and strawberries. Winters also tend to be milder than normal in the northern U.S. and southern Canada during El Nino conditions, he said.

Corn, Soybeans

Corn and soybean harvests in the U.S., the largest grower and exporter, may benefit if El Nino delays frost in the Northern Hemisphere, extending the growing season after planting began later than usual this year, said Peter Meyer, an agricultural-product specialist for JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York.

El Nino may strengthen in the months ahead, according to NOAA.

“We believe the El Nino will remain weak to moderate through fall, and it could possibly strengthen thereafter,” said Michelle L’Heureux, who leads the El Nino Southern Oscillation team at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Maryland. The Southern Oscillation Index refers to the atmospheric part of the climate pattern.

In June, surface temperatures in the east-central region of the Pacific met the threshold of reaching 0.5 degree Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit) above average, indicating that an El Nino is developing, she said. Related indicators such as decreasing strength in east-to-west trade winds have been observed, L’Heureux said.

NOAA doesn’t expect the strength this year to reach the level of the 1997-1998 El Nino, which was “exceptionally” strong, L’Heureux said. The 2006-2007 event was classified as weak to moderate, after a weak El Nino in 2004-2005 and a strong pattern in 2002-2003, according to NOAA.

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Yancheng Prison accused of luxury comparable to “White House,” said prison authorities are not exceeded


An exposure of a prison is man-made river. Recently, the seven prison photos have been uploaded online, 8 into the thread User believe that is not necessary.

Yancheng Prison accused of luxury comparable to “White House,” said prison authorities are not exceeded

November 21, meaning users can post online Mop drying Jiangsu, Guangdong, seven “luxury” prison. Many users even said that such a prison, comparable to high-end residential, and questioned the building exceeded. In this regard, chart several prisons responded that the building of the prison-building in accordance with national standard not exceeded.

Provinces seven prisons luxury List

Is located in Dafeng City, Jiangsu Yancheng Yancheng Dafeng Road prison, was User first place, in the steeple of the European architecture picture that online using “White House” in comparison. Online Figure 8 shows that all the prison buildings have blue roofs and yellow walls milk-based, office buildings and janitor all in spire of the European-style construction, equipped with City Hall and plastic sports venues.

User posted Suzhou prison pictures revealed that the prison a landscape painting hanging a reading corner, six standard plastic pitches, winding paths, artificial rivers.

It is understood that the relocation of Suzhou, the prison in May of this year, double in size, the environment and feature upgrades, once known as the modernization of the domestic first-class new prison.

In addition to the two prisons in Jiangsu, Guangdong, chart also Qingyuan, Shaoguan, four will be, Yangjiang, and juvenile correctional facilities five prisons.

Bacheng User that the prison luxuries

As of yesterday, there are thousands of User comments thread, a number of User believes that these prison comparable to high-end residential, residential environment, much better than their own, but also wanted to join to go to jail many nights.

Thread, about Bacheng User believes that prison is no need to build too luxurious, “and hopes to enter the school earlier than modernization.” Users even said, and so not suitable for conditions in prisons.

Many think that these prison conditions User Well, it is more conducive to the transformation of its own prisoners, “Do prisoners can only live in thatched cottages?”

Response: Construction has not exceeded

Two days ago, Yancheng Prison relevant responsible person said, a few of them actually plan for the prison pictures, several other prisons are not the authenticity of the picture stand.

Jiangsu Province, in charge of prison administration denied the building of the province’s two prisons exceeded chart.

“The State has standard, the building can not be exceeded.” Yancheng, Suzhou Prison relevant responsible person said, the prison environment is good, conducive to reform prisoners.

According to the staff of the Ministry of Justice Prison Administration, the current prison, in accordance with “Prison construction standards” building, the prison-building should be the local actual conditions, and economic and social development compatible. Better economic conditions in the area, according to the national standard increased by 30% as a cap.

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