March 3, 2006

UN sees signs of La Nina

GENEVA (Reuters) - Cool sea surface temperatures in the
central and eastern Pacific point to a La Nina phenomenon, but
it is too early to predict the impact on global weather, the
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday.

The phenomenon was also not expected to last long, the U.N.
agency said in a statement.

Combined with other oceanic and atmospheric conditions, the
temperatures were "consistent with the early stages of a
basin-wide La Nina event," the WMO said.

But the agency said it very early in the year for the
appearance of a basin-wide La Nina, which can upset normal
weather and bring heavy rains and droughts, and this made it
hard to predict its impact.

"There is some additional uncertainty over the extent to
which typical La Nina rainfall and temperature patterns will
occur," it said.

Furthermore, the phenomenon was expected to be relatively
short-lived, with a return to what the agency called "neutral"
conditions by the middle of the year or shortly thereafter.

In the Philippines, where a community of 1,800 people was
entombed by a landslide last month on Leyte island, the
national weather bureau has said that typhoons, flood and rains
since November might be linked to development of La Nina.

The WMO said careful monitoring would be needed for
indications that La Nina could last longer or even turn into an
El Nino event, which can also have devastating climatic effects
and occurs when sea surface temperatures rise substantially.

"Neither of these two scenarios is considered likely, but
cannot be ruled out at the current time," the WMO said.