NEW YORK May 8 The La Nina weather pattern has
weakened sharply and may last only until early in the Northern
Hemisphere summer, the U.S. government's Climate Prediction
Center said Thursday.
In a monthly update, the Center said "a transition from La
Nina to neutral conditions is possible during June-July 2008."
Earlier this year, the Center and other forecasters had
expressed fears that La Nina could last well into summer.
"La Nina continued to weaken during April 2008, as
reflected by changes in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across
the equatorial Pacific Ocean," the CPC said.
La Nina, which literally means "little girl" in Spanish,
usually results in cooler than normal water in the equatorial
Pacific Ocean and is said to aid hurricane formation in the
The more famous El Nino phenomenon causes waters in the
Pacific to turn abnormally warm and its wind shear was said to
hinder Atlantic storms which would sweep into the Gulf and
disrupt oil and gas production in the area.
The Center said atmospheric conditions related to La Nina
often persist for a couple of months after sea surface
temperatures return to normal.
It said above average rain remains likely for Indonesia and
below average rainfall will persist in the central Pacific.
CPC said a majority of computer models indicated La Nina
will last through July and then normal sea surface temperatures
should prevail during the second half of 2008.
"However, the spread of the models spans the possibility of
a return to La Nina or even an El Nino by the end of 2008," it
El Nino and La Nina would normally follow one after the
other in the central Pacific Ocean.
El Nino is more notorious and was named after the Christ
child because it was first noticed by Latin American anchovy
fishermen in the 19th century.
It struck with devastating fury in 1997/98, sparking
drought in countries like Australia and Indonesia while
spawning floods in Peru and Ecuador.
(Reporting by Rene Pastor)