Australia puts chance of El Niño in 2019 at 70 percent

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A recent warming of the Pacific Ocean has led to a 70 percent chance of an El Niño weather event developing this year, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday.

An El Niño weather event can trigger both floods and drought in different parts of the world, and is associated with warmer, dry weather across the Asia Pacific.

Australia’s weather bureau earlier this month pegged the chance of an El Niño developing at 50 percent.

El Niños are particularly damaging to Australia, with the last one in 2015/16 cutting farm production in the country - among the world’s largest exporters of agricultural products.

Australian farmers will within weeks begin sowing wheat crops and adverse weather could curtail production in the world’s fourth-largest wheat exporter.

A U.S. government weather forecaster last week upped its expectation of weak El Niño conditions persisting through the northern hemisphere spring to 80 percent, from 55 percent previously.

Reporting by Colin Packham; editing by Richard Pullin