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El Niño to weaken by spring or early summer; La Niña seen this fall

CurrentEl Niño conditions have weakened considerably over the last month and willcontinue to dissipate by the end of spring or early summer, with an increasingchance of La Niña forming during the second half of the year, according to anApril 14 diagnostic discussionprovided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's ClimatePrediction Center.

ElNiño is characterized by unusually warm water in the equatorial Pacific Oceanand can have direct impacts to weather patterns across the contiguous U.S.La Niña features cooler-than-average surface waters in the tropical central andeastern Pacific. La Niña often follows El Niño, although this isnot always the case. La Niña can enhance the Atlantic hurricane season,primarily by reducing vertical wind shear, which is how much the wind changesas you go up in the atmosphere.

SNL Image

SNL Image

"Nearlyall models predict further weakening of El Niño, with a transition toENSO-neutral likely during late spring or early summer 2016. Then, the chanceof La Niña increases during the late summer or early fall. The officialforecast is consistent with the model forecasts, also supported by a historicaltendency for La Niña to follow strong El Niño events," the agency said.

Althoughthe recent El Niño conditions will continue to dissipate over the next fewmonths, they are likely to continue to impact temperature and precipitationpatterns across much of the U.S. for the remainder of the year, according to arecent note from Williams Capital Equity Research.

NOAA'scurrent seasonal outlook for April-June shows above-average temperaturesprojected across the northern half and western regions of the country, as wellareas of the Southeast. Normal to below-average temperatures are anticipated inTexas and a portion of the south-central region through the period.

Thecurrent forecast also shows an increased likelihood of above-medianprecipitation in California, the Southwest and a swath of Texas, andbelow-average precipitation anticipated in the Midwest and small area of theNortheast.