El Niño pattern could emerge by 2018-19 winter: U.S. forecaster

(Reuters) - The El Niño weather pattern, associated with warmer and wetter weather than usual that may give rise to damaging conditions, could emerge by the 2018-19 Northern Hemisphere winter, with neutral conditions expected to prevail through November this year, a U.S. government weather forecaster said on Thursday.

The last El Niño, a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific that typically occurs every few years, was linked to crop damage, fires and flash floods in 2016.

The possibility of a transition to El Niño weather-pattern is nearing 50 percent by the 2018-19 Northern Hemisphere winter, the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) said in its monthly forecast.

Look back at the most recent El NIño to hit the U.S.: 

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El Niño's effects on US in 2016
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El Niño's effects on US in 2016
LOS ANGELES, CA. -- TUESDAY, JANUARY 5, 2015 -- Jason Chiang, 31, is reflected in a puddle while walking his dogs Clementine and Emma in Hollenbeck Park as rainy weather from the first big El Nino storm moved out of the area late Tuesday afternoon. ( Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images )
SILVERADO CANYON ROAD, CA JANUARY 5, 2016 - A CalTrans sign says it all in Silverado Canyon as El Nino storms are expected to barrel into Southern California in earnest Tuesday morning. January 5, 2016, with officials predicting rain through the end of the week. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 5: A homeless man huddles under a blanket and out of the rain beneath the 405 Freeway in Venice on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. The first of several El Nino storms hit Southern California on Tuesday, with heavy downpours throughout the day in the L.A. Basin. Shelters have opened up across the city in an effort to bring homeless people indoors and out of the wet, cold weather forecast for the days ahead. (Photo by Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A police officer directs traffic around a large boulder that fell on a lane of Santa Susana Pass Road during the second day of El Nino generated storms in Chatsworth, California, January 6, 2016. Several El Nino storms are expected to hit California in the coming weeks, but experts warn that the rainfall will not be enough to help the region recover from a historic drought. El Nino is the name given to a weather pattern associated with a sustained period of warming in the central and eastern tropical Pacific which can spark deadly and costly climate extremes. Last month, the UN weather agency warned the phenomenon, triggered by a warming in sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, was the worst in more than 15 years. AFP PHOTO / JONATHAN ALCORN / AFP / JONATHAN ALCORN (Photo credit should read JONATHAN ALCORN/AFP/Getty Images)
LONG BEACH, CA - JANUARY 07: Bitelio Ramirez, 52, looks out over tons of trash and debris has piled up near the mouth of the Los Angeles River after two days of heavy rain fell in Southern California from El Nino generated storms. Two cranes were being used to lift out somewhere around 300 tons of trash, according to a worker on the scene. (Photo by Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA YNEZ, CA - JANUARY 7: A heavy winter storm dumps several inches of rain along the mountains and hills of the Santa Ynez Valley on January 7, 2016 in Santa Ynez, California. Because of its close proximity to Southern California and Los Angeles population centers and Mediterranean climate, the coastal regions of Santa Barbara have become a popular weekend getaway destination for millions of tourists each year. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
A ship moves past El Porto Beach as big waves from El Nino storms continue to affect Los Angeles, California on January 8, 2016. Drought affected California is bracing for more El Nino storm weather over the next three months. AFP PHOTO/ MARK RALSTON / AFP / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Houses are seen hanging over a cliff in Pacifica, California on January 27, 2016. Storms and powerful waves caused by El Nino have been intensifying erosion along nearby coastal bluffs and beaches in the area. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A worker wades through the flooded 5 freeway after El Nino-strengthened storm brought rain to Los Angeles, California, United States, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
The sea surface temperature departure is seen in an undated NOAA image released October 9, 2015. El Nino is strengthening and likely to peak in late fall or early winter, and gradually weaken through spring 2016, according to a NOAA news release. REUTERS/NOAA/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Heavy machinery is used to re-enforce a sand wall from high surf and waves in preparation for another El Nino-strengthened storm in Ocean Beach, California, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A woman walks down a street as standing water remains following an El Nino-strengthened storm in Ocean Beach, California, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Downtown Los Angeles skyline is seen in front of the snow covered San Gabriel Mountains following a series of El Nino driven storms in Los Angeles, California January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Bob Riha Jr.
A pedestrian pier closed by authorities due to high surf from an El Nino-strengthened storm is pictured in Ocean Beach, California January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A view of an underground parking garage after floodwaters receded following an El Nino-strengthened storm in Ocean Beach, California January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
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El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions are favored through September-November this year, it added. ENSO-neutral refers to those periods in which neither El Niño nor La Niña is present, according to CPC.

Last month, the weather forecaster said there was a more than 50 percent chance of ENSO-neutral conditions prevailing through the northern hemisphere summer in 2018.

During ENSO-neutral periods, the ocean temperatures, tropical rainfall patterns and atmospheric winds over the equatorial Pacific Ocean are near the long-term average, according to the CPC website.

(Reporting by Harshith Aranya and Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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