NEW YORK The dreaded La Nina weather anomaly, blamed for both drought and record snowfall in the U.S., has returned and will garner strength during the coming winter, the Climate Prediction Center forecast Thursday.
"While it is not yet clear what the ultimate strength of this La Nina will be, La Nina conditions have returned and are expected to gradually strengthen and continue into the Northern Hemisphere winter (of) 2011-12," the CPC said in a monthly update.
It said waters in the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific Ocean cooled in August, and the "oceanic and atmospheric patterns reflect the return of La Nina conditions."
The CPC is an office under the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. It issues monthly reports on the El Nino and La Nina weather phenomena. Both weather patterns often follow one another in the Pacific.
El Nino is an abnormal warming of waters in the Pacific and led to the failure of India's vital monsoon in 2009/10.
La Nina is the opposite and is often linked to the ramping up of storms in the Atlantic basin which threaten oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
It has already been an active storm season, with Hurricane Irene running up the U.S. East Coast and wreaking havoc through heavy rains and floods from North Carolina to Vermont bordering Canada.
Currently, three systems were being tracked in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea which may threaten the U.S. Gulf and East Coasts.
La Nina was blamed in part for the severe snow storms which struck the U.S. last winter and the worst drought in a century which has ravaged Texas and swathes of the southwestern part of the country.
El Nino means "little boy" in Spanish and was named after the Christ child when it was first observed by Latin American anchovy fishermen one Christmastime in the 19th Century. La Nina means "little girl" in Spanish.
(Reporting by Rene Pastor; Editing by John Picinich)