No La Nina or El Nino expected through autumn

The dreaded El Nino or La Nina weather anomalies should not crop up through autumn 2011 but weather forecasters said Thursday the outlook for next year was uncertain at best.

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center forecast in a monthly report that “the majority of models” indicated neutral conditions into the fall of this year. The CPC is an office under the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“Beyond the early fall, the forecasts are less certain with half of the models (showing) neutral conditions continuously through early 2012,” it said.

But the latest computer models from the NCEP Climate Forecast System (CFS) models “predict La Nina to redevelop during the fall.”

El Nina and La Nina are weather patterns that often follow one another in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

The more infamous El Nino is an abnormal warming of waters in the Pacific and the one in 2009-10 caused the failure of India’s vital monsoon.

Because that country is the world No. 2 producer of sugar, the weak monsoon sparked a rally in sweetener prices to their highest level in almost 30 years.

The El Nino was followed by the strongest La Nina in a decade from 2010 to 2011, which was widely blamed for the worst drought in a century in Texas and across the U.S. Southwest. La Nina is an abnormal cooling of Pacific waters and has the opposite effect of an El Nino.

Forecasters said neutral conditions should encourage storm formation during the annual Atlantic hurricane season which started June 1. The season ends Nov. 30.

The NOAA has projected six to 10 hurricanes for 2011, with three to six predicted to become major ones.

Tropical storm Emily was already the fifth named storm of the season. It took aim at Haiti and was on a track that may bring it close to Florida, the top citrus-growing area of the U.S.

The oil industry is particularly sensitive about storms roaring into the Gulf of Mexico because they could shut down crude and natural gas production platforms.

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