The El Nino climate phenomena has strengthened and is expected to last into spring, potentially affecting weather around the globe for the next few months, the government said Thursday.
El Nino (el NEEN-yo) is a periodic warming of the water in the tropical Pacific Ocean accompanied by changes in air pressure and winds that can influence weather worldwide.
Sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific were about 3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 Celsius) above normal in November, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
Computer models used to forecast climate do not all agree, but the agency said it seems likely the conditions will strengthen, or at least persist, through spring.
Potential impacts through February, NOAA said, include:
_ Above-average precipitation for the southern tier of the United States, with below average precipitation in the Pacific Northwest and the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys.
_ Below-average snowfall and above-average temperatures across the northern tier of states, except New England, and cooler than average temperatures in the Southeast.
_ Increased rainfall over the central tropical Pacific Ocean and a continuation of drier-than-average conditions over Indonesia.
_ Warming in the far eastern equatorial Pacific and increased rainfall in portions of Peru and Ecuador.
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