* New forecast is later than CPC's previous estimate
* Further reduces risk of Asian drought, flooding in South
* CPC called off El Niño last month
Dec 6 The U.S. national weather forecaster said
on Thursday the much-feared El Niño weather phenomenon is
unlikely to appear before the Northern Hemisphere spring,
further reducing the chances of a drought in Asia and flooding
in South America.
The U.S. Climate Prediction Center (CPC)'s latest forecast
is later than previously expected - last month it said the
pattern that can wreak havoc on weather would not appear until
the end of the 2012/13 winter.
"It is considered unlikely that a fully coupled El Niño will
develop during the next several months. (El Niño) neutral is now
favored through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2012-13 and into
spring 2013," the CPC said on Thursday in its monthly report.
The likelihood of El Niño, essentially a warming of waters
in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, has dissipated in recent months
and led the CPC to call off its five-month El Niño watch in its
El Niño leads to a heating of Pacific waters, triggering
drought in Southeast Asia and Australia, which produce some of
the world's major food staples, such as sugar cane and grains.
It can also cause flooding in South America.
For the United States, El Niño can bring higher than average
winter precipitation to the Southwest, less wintry weather
across the North as well as stronger winter storms in California
and increased storminess across the southern states.
The CPC is part of the National Oceanic Atmospheric