May 9, 2019 / 2:40 PM / a month ago

U.S. forecaster sees 70 percent chance of El Niño through summer

(Reuters) - There is a 70 percent chance of El Niño conditions continuing through the northern hemisphere summer this year, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) said in its monthly forecast on Thursday.

An increase in westerly wind anomalies over the west-central Pacific Ocean recently indicates the possible development of another downwelling oceanic Kelvin wave in the short term, the U.S. government weather forecaster said.

A Kelvin wave, a warm equatorial swell that stretches hundreds of miles across, could build up the above-average subsurface temperatures needed for El Niño to persist.

The chances of the weather pattern continuing through the fall season were at 55 percent to 60 percent, the CPC added.

The weather forecaster had last month pegged the chances of El Niño conditions continuing through the northern hemisphere summer 2019 at 65 percent.

El Niño can affect rainfall and temperature patterns in many regions, with important consequences for agricultural and food production, according to the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.

Reporting by Eileen Soreng and Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky

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