El Nino likely to return this year - WMO

GENEVA (Reuters) - El Nino weather conditions associated with droughts and flooding have a 50-60 percent probability of returning this year, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday, revising its view from two months ago.

“Sea surface temperatures in the far eastern tropical Pacific Ocean increased to 2.0° Celsius or more above average during February and March, creating very heavy rainfall and a trade wind collapse from the Galapagos Islands to the coasts of Ecuador and Peru,” WMO said in a statement.

The last El Nino was in 2015-2016. The phenomenon has been linked to exacerbating droughts in the Horn of Africa, coral bleaching the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in South America two years ago, WMO said.

WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis said it was difficult to predict how severe the impact of an eventual El Nino this year would be.

The body said that forecasts made before May or June were typically less certain than those made later in the year.

Reporting by Tom Miles, additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Richard Lough