LA NIÑA COULD BRING SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONES TO PACIFIC

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UNITED NATIONS, New York (November 18, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The United Nations has predicted tropical cyclones in Australia and other areas of the South Pacific similar to Hurricane Mitch in Central America.

William Kininmonth, climate scientist with the World Meteorological Organization, says the La Niña weather phenomenon -- which is caused by an unusually cool climate in the Pacific Ocean -- now is moving into the southern hemisphere.

He says it could bring intense tropical cyclones to northeast Australia, Mauritius, some southwest Pacific islands, and possibly New Zealand.

La Niña is the sister, and opposite of the El Niño weather pattern, which has caused drought in parts of Southeast Asia, Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea and killed almost 22,000 people.

La Niña has already caused chaos in the form of Hurricane Mitch which swept through central American earlier this month, virtually destroying the economies of Honduras and Nicaragua.

La Niña has also been blamed for heavy rains and flooding this year in Indonesia, China, Korea and Bangladesh.

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