Marshall Islands on drought alert

Almost the entire Pacific region is preparing for the onset of what climate forecasters predict could be one of the worst El Niño events since the late 1990s.

Our correspondent in the Marshall Islands, Giff Johnson, says the system has been building all year, with meteorologists there predicting a drought that could last for six to nine months.

He says the last El Niño-related drought in 1997 was devastating.

Drier than normal conditions forecast

Tonga’s Meteorological Services said the El Nino this year continues to strengthen with the forecasted rainfall for the next six months for drier than normal conditions.

In the last two months from May to July, rainfall was below normal throughout Tonga. This three month outlook is typical of El Nino years. The islands with rainfall deficiencies are likely to intensify for the rest of the dry season from May to October where below normal rainfall are favoured and into the wet season, November to April.

Cool temperature