February 5, 2009

Weakening La Nina To Persist Through Spring 2009

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center (CPC) said on Thursday that La Nina weather will remain until spring of this year, but should gradually weaken during that time.

"A majority of the model forecasts ... indicate a gradual weakening of La Nina through February-April 2009, with an eventual transition to neutral conditions," said the CPC, an office under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in its monthly update.

La Nina, which literally means "little girl" in Spanish, results in colder-than-normal waters in the Pacific Ocean.   El Nino, its better-known counterpart, has the opposite effect.

Scientists believe La Nina encourages hurricane formation in the Atlantic basin by holding back wind shear that disburses storms as they form.

The CPC said La Nina's potential impact during February to April 2009 includes greater than average precipitation in the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and below average rainfall in the southeastern and southwestern United States.  Other affects are above average temperatures in a large portion of the southern U.S., and below average temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, the body said.

Indonesia could see above average precipitation, the CPC added.  The nation, the most populous in Southeast Asia, is a leading producer of cocoa, coffee and palm oil.

El Nino, which literally means ' little boy' in Spanish, disrupts weather patterns across Asia-Pacific.  A devastating 1997/98 El Nino wreaked havoc when it caused withering droughts in Australia and Indonesia while triggering floods in Ecuador and Peru.

Latin American anchovy fisherman named the phenomenon after the Christ child after first noticing it during the 19th century.


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