"I live in Guatemala and have just returned from a trip to Panama. Although I can't vouch for the information, I was told about two possible effects of El Nino. The first was an effect on fishing. According to the captain of the fishing boat I was on, the January fishing tournament in Panama was a disaster this year, compared to last year. The largest marlin caught last year weighted 1,200 pounds, he said. In 1998, the largest weighed only 600 pounds, and many of the 25 boats in the tournament came back empty-handed. The second observation was from a tour guide in Lake Gatun, who said the water level in the lake (which feeds the Atlantic locks of the Panama Canal, and generates hydroelectric energy for the country)was already as low as it usually is at the end of the dry season, still come months away, and electricity rationing is being considered."--Bill Latham < bill@macaw.com>