El Niño could take a $3 trillion bite out of the world economy

A barren mountainside
Homes and other structures below the remains of a landslide from 1998 during the rains from that year’s El Nino on Friday, October 9th, 2015, in Fremont, California. | Photo By Lea Suzuki / The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

El Niño is on its way, and when the warm weather pattern arrives, it could take a $3 trillion toll on the global economy, according to new research. That estimate is based on damages inflicted by El Niño in previous years, plus forecasts pointing to a potentially supercharged event this year.

El Niño influences weather across the world when it forms — potentially fueling more severe floods in places while worsening drought in others. Within the US, for example, it can trigger a wetter winter in the southern half of the country but more hot and dry weather farther north. Earlier this week, a warning came from the World Meteorological Organization that this year’s El Niño, combined with climate change, could “push global temperatures into…

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