Thursday, July 16, 1998 Published at 20:58 GMT 21:58 UK
'Little girl' who wreaks havoc
The worst drought in living memory was followed by floods
Freak weather conditions in Australia are being blamed on a relative of the El Niño weather effect - La Niña.
Heavy rain and hurricanes have destroyed property, ruined crops, and killed livestock.
It is caused by a weakening of the El Niño weather pattern, and brings reverse conditions.
Areas blighted by El Niño-generated drought, like South East Asia, tend to get unusually heavy rains and sometimes floods.
La Niña travels far
The effects of La Niña are expected to felt throughout Asia and Africa.
But meteorologists in Singapore say La Niña brings good news too - it will avert a repeat of the haze that choked much of South East Asia last year.
The weather patterns are brought about by changes in the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean.
Earlier, they had risen under El Niño to about 32°C (89.6°F) - five degrees above normal.
Lars Olsson, Acting Director of the World Climate Programme, said La Niña could bring heavy rains across South East Asia in the next few months.
" La Niña is developing quickly. This one seems more intensive than what we have seen before," he said at a Geneva conference last week.