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U.S. weather forecaster sees La Niña chances at 65-75 per cent

The Climate Prediction Center is just the latest in a list of international forecasters to make this observation

La Niña could serve up a good smattering of snow and cold temperatures on the Prairies.

A U.S. government weather forecaster has added its voice to a growing chorus calling for La Niña conditions to continue through the winter.

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC), an agency of the National Weather Service, in a monthly forecast pegged the chance of La Niña developing at about 65 per cent to 75 per cent on Nov. 10.

The agency in its October advisory had projected a 55 per cent to 65 per cent chance of the phenomenon developing during the Northern Hemisphere’s fall and winter.

“La Niña is likely to affect temperature and precipitation across the United States during the upcoming months,” the agency said.

La Niña emerged last year for the first time since 2012. The phenomenon, characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, is linked with floods and droughts.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteor­ology (BOM) made a similar call in late October, saying climate indicators were near the levels associated with a La Niña weather event and pegged the chance of the weather pattern developing this year at 50 per cent.

This is around double the normal likelihood of the weather event, the BOM said.

La Niña is the opposite of an El Niño, which is characterized by warmer waters in the tropical Pacific. While a La Niña can be less damaging than an El Niño, severe La Niñas are also linked to floods, droughts and hurricanes.

Analysts say a La Niña could impact the supply of global grains, particularly wheat and corn — where the United States is the largest exporter of both crops. The weather event is associated with lower-than-average rainfalls over North America.

“A La Niña would be bad for U.S. grain growers, which would help global wheat prices,” said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist, National Australia Bank.

Benchmark global wheat prices hit a decade low in August last year amid ample global supplies.

Japan’s weather bureau said earlier this month that there were growing signs of a La Niña pattern emerging as sea water temperatures being monitored near the equator in the Pacific Ocean were cooler than their benchmark levels.

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