U.S. forecaster sees El Niño potential

NEW YORK, Feb 9 (Reuters) – A U.S. weather forecaster on Thursday said La Niña has faded and neutral conditions are likely to continue in the coming months, though it noted a small chance that the El Niño phenomenon could reappear as early as the Northern Hemisphere spring.

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC), an agency of the National Weather Service, in a monthly forecast said that neutral conditions have returned and are favoured to continue through at least the Northern Hemisphere spring.

A weak La Niña emerged last year for the first time since 2012, but faded quickly. The phenomenon is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Most weather models indicate that neutral conditions are most likely in the first half of this year, but a few models show a chance of the appearance of El Niño as early as March to May 2017, the CPC warned.

That would be less than a year after the last El Niño faded.

The El Niño, which was considered one of the strongest, brought dry weather to Indonesia and Malaysia, slashing palm oil production leading to the highest palm prices in years, which helped support the value of

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