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El Niño increasingly unlikely to be strong: Oz weather bureau

Cooling of the Pacific Ocean over the last month means the El Niño forecast to hit later this year is increasingly unlikely to be a strong event, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on Tuesday.

The BOM maintained its forecast for an El Niño to form over the next several months, but said climate models had eased their predicted strength.

“The trade winds have gone back a little over the past few weeks towards normal so there hasn’t been a significant impact from the atmosphere to help keep things warm in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean,” said Andrew Watkins, supervisor climate prediction at the BOM.

The last strong El Niño occurred in 1997, causing widespread global damage.

The US weather forecaster last week maintained its outlook for the El Niño weather phenomenon, pegging the chances of the weather pattern striking during the Northern Hemisphere summer at 70 per cent.

El Niño – a warming of sea temperatures in the Pacific – affects wind patterns and can trigger both floods and drought in different parts of the globe, hitting crops and food supply.

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