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(Reuters) — A U.S. government weather forecaster on Thursday said the El Niño weather phenomenon underway is likely to dissipate by the Northern Hemisphere's late spring or early summer and possibly transition to La Niña conditions later this year.
The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center said in its monthly forecast that most models showed the strong El Niño would weaken in the coming months, with the chances of La Niña conditions increasing into the fall.
Typically less damaging than El Niño, La Niña is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and tends to occur unpredictably every two to seven years. Severe La Niñas are linked to floods and droughts.
With the forecast, the CPC joins others, including Australia's weather bureau, in projecting La Niña may follow El Niño.
The forecaster said on Thursday it saw support for La Niña to emerge, though "considerable uncertainty remains."
El Niño is a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific that occurs every few years, triggering heavy rains and floods in South America and scorching weather in Asia and as far away as East Africa.
Strong El Niño conditions have continued in recent weeks and are likely to keep affecting temperature and precipitation patterns across the United States in the upcoming months, the CPC said.
(Reuters) — The El Niño weather pattern, a phenomenon associated with extreme droughts, storms and floods, is expected to strengthen before the end of the year and become one of the strongest on record, the U.N. weather agency said on Monday.