November 27, 2018 / 11:02 AM / 22 days ago

Weak El Nino weather conditions likely to form by February, U.N. says

GENEVA (Reuters) - There is a 75-80 percent chance of a weak El Nino weather pattern forming by February and a slightly lower likelihood that it will continue through the northern hemisphere winter of 2018-19, the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Tuesday.

Its forecast, based on models from around the world, was in line with that of a U.S. government arm, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, earlier this month.

An El Nino - a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific that typically happens every few years - last occurred in 2015-2016 and caused weather-related crop damage, fires and flash floods.

“The forecast El Niño is not expected to be as powerful as the event in 2015-2016, which was linked with droughts, flooding and coral bleaching in different parts of the world,” Maxx Dilley, director of WMO’s Climate Prediction and Adaptation branch, said in a statement.

“Even so, it can still significantly affect rainfall and temperature patterns in many regions, with important consequences to agricultural and food security sectors, and for management of water resources and public health, and it may combine with long-term climate change to boost 2019 global temperatures,” he said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Tom Miles; editing by David Stamp

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