Scientists have warned of bad weather in the first half of the year as the El Nino effect moves into one of its most potent phases since its last peak in 1982. Observatory Scientific Officer Chan Sai-tik said research showed the SAR could be in for a drenching spring, after the wettest year on record last year. 'We expect the El Nino effect to continue into the first half of 1998 then things should gradually return to normal. 'El Nino 1997-98 is one of the strongest of the century, the strongest was 1982-83 and this year's event is comparable to that. We could be in for a very wet spring,' said Mr Chan. Despite being warmer than normal, December fell short in hours of sunshine. The total amount of bright sunshine came to only 100.4 hours for December - 81.1 hours down on the average. A mean temperature of 18.9 degrees Celsius put last month seventh highest in temperature since records began. But even a substantial drop in rainfall in December failed to prevent 1997 going down as the wettest recorded year. Last year was the darkest on record with just 1,558.2 hours of sunshine, though the annual mean temperature of 23.4 degrees made it the fourth warmest. The approach of Typhoon Victor on the afternoon of August 2 necessitated the hoisting of Storm Signal No 9, the highest tropical cyclone warning signal since Typhoon Ellen in 1983.