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Not seen since 1997: El Nino event strengthens, Australia says

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The El Nino developing in the Pacific keeps sending signs reminiscent of the most severe event in 1997-1998, according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, which said recent data point toward a pattern that'll last all year.

[MELBOURNE] The El Nino developing in the Pacific keeps sending signs reminiscent of the most severe event in 1997-1998, according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, which said recent data point toward a pattern that'll last all year.

The 2015 El Nino continues to develop and climate models suggest further warming of the tropical Pacific is likely, the bureau said on Tuesday in a fortnightly update. Sea-surface temperatures are forecast to remain above El Nino thresholds for the remainder of the year, it said.

"All five Nino indices are at least plus 1.2 degrees Celsius above-normal," the bureau said. "It is unusual to have such a broad extent of warmth across the tropical Pacific; this has not been seen since the El Nino event of 1997-98."

The 1997-1998 event was the strongest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The weather patterns can scorch Asia, hurting crops from rice to palm oil, while crimping the hurricane season in the Atlantic and bringing cooler, wetter summers to the U.S.

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All five sea-surface indexes in the tropical Pacific exceeded plus 1 degree Celsius, the Australian bureau said in the last update on May 26, adding that that's the first time it's occurred since the 1997-1998 El Nino.

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