El Nino threatens to return, hit global food production
* Some weather agencies say could see El Nino in 2014
* Would cause floods in some places, drought elsewhere
* That would disrupt production of key foods, pushing up prices
By Lewa Pardomuan
SINGAPORE, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The El Nino weather pattern that can trigger drought in some parts of the world while causing flooding in others is increasingly likely to return this year, hitting production of key foods such as rice, wheat and sugar.
El Nino - the Spanish word for boy - is a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific that occurs every four to 12 years. The worst on record in the late 1990s killed more than 2,000 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.
A strong El Nino can wither crops in Australia, Southeast Asia, India and Africa when other parts of the globe such as the U.S. Midwest and Brazil are drenched in rains.
While scientists are still debating the intensity of a potential El Nino, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology and the U.S. Climate Prediction Center have warned of increased chances one will strike this year.
Last month, the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization said there was an "enhanced possibility" of a weak El Nino by the middle of 2014. Continuación...