An intense months-long drought through November drained the mighty Negro river -- a tributary of the Amazon -- to its lowest since records began in 1902, drying up the network of water that is the lifeblood of Brazil's huge Amazonas state. More than 60,000 people went short of food and many lacked clean drinking water as millions of dead fish contaminated rivers.
It was a "once in a century" kind of weather event. The weird thing is, it came just five years after another severe Amazon drought that meteorologists had described in the same way. Last year, massive floods in the region killed dozens and made hundreds of thousands homeless, fitting a pattern of more extreme weather that climate models forecast for this century.