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.:

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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