El Nino weather pattern will likely hit Peru next month - government

LIMA Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:37pm EDT

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LIMA (Reuters) - The feared El Nino weather pattern will likely hit Peru with a "weak to moderate" intensity starting in April, affecting the fishmeal industry on the country's northern coast, the government said on Wednesday.

The prediction, by Peru's official El Nino commission, comes on top of forecasts from around the world that the climate phenomena will probably strike this year.

El Nino occurs, on average, every three to five years, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and is characterized by a warming of surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. It can trigger droughts in some places and floods in others.

In Peru, El Nino threatens to batter the fishmeal industry by scaring away abundant schools of cold-water anchovy.

Temperatures in the Pacific are expected to rise two to three degrees Celsius above normal this year, said German Vasquez, the president of the government commission.

"We expect anchovy resources to move toward southern Peru," Vasquez told reporters, adding that Peruvian waters would likely stay warmer until around the middle of 2014.

Peru is the world's top fishmeal exporter, producing about a third of worldwide supply. The industry is concentrated along the northern and central coast.

(Reporting By Marco Aquino; Writing by Mitra Taj; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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