U.S. Lowers Odds of El Nino Forming by End of Year

The odds of an El Nino forming in the equatorial Pacific have fallen to about 65 percent through the end of the year, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said.

Computer forecast models delay the onset of the El Nino, a warming of sea surface temperatures and corresponding atmospheric changes, said the agency in College Park, Maryland. Last month, the chance of the phenomenon forming was almost 80 percent through the Northern Hemisphere’s fall and winter.

“At this time, the consensus of forecasters expects El Nino to emerge during August-October and to peak at a weak strength during the late fall and early winter,” the center said in an updated outlook.

El Nino can crimp the Atlantic hurricane season, bring more rain across the southern U.S. during the winter and warm some northern states. It can affect rubber, sugar, coffee and natural gas markets worldwide.

The phenomenon, which occurs every three to five years, often causes heavier rain from southern Brazil to Argentina and drier conditions across Southeast Asia and Indonesia.

The climate center is maintaining its El Nino watch, which means conditions are favorable for the pattern to form.

Last month, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology also reduced its odds of an El Nino forming, to about 50 percent from at least 70 percent.

Both agencies said any El Nino that does form probably won’t be a strong one.

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