BBCNews.com, Aug. 11, 2002
The weather phenomenon El Nino is being blamed by scientists for the freak weather conditions which have caused chaos and many deaths around the world.
More than 140 people have died in storms across Europe and Asia in the past few days.
But the US and parts of south-east Asia are seeing their worst droughts in many years.
El Nino is a warming of water temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean which has a knock-on effect on wind and rain.
When it last hit, four years ago, floods and drought devastated several developing countries in South America, Africa and East Asia.
Scientists in Australia say the effects of El Nino are already being felt there.
Although this year's cycle is not as strong as the last one, it is compounding Australia's existing drought, forcing crop forecasts to be slashed.
Rains have swept Europe in the past week, bringing misery to summer holiday-makers.
The Spanish region of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands have also been experiencing downpours.
Scientists warn that what happens in India is often a foretaste of conditions elsewhere.
The country has been experiencing extremes - some parts suffering under searing heat and droughts while others are being lashed by torrential rains.
Seven hundred people were killed in the rains, and millions left homeless across eastern India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Other parts of Asia are also affected.
Elsewhere, one of the worst droughts in the last 50 years is affecting the United States, with 26 states suffering severe drought. The wheat harvest is expected to be the lowest in 30 years.
The US has been ravaged by wildfires. Fires have scorched the north-west, destroying nearly 5 million acres (1.9m hectares) of forest.
Southern Africa is already suffering from a severe drought which is causing the worst food crisis in the region for a decade.
Scientists say that as the planet continues to warm, these effects of El Nino will be felt more and more often.