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U.S. NOAA says chance of La Nina hitting in 2010

Date: 07-May-10
Country: US
Author: Rene Pastor

A La Nina weather phenomenon, the lesser-known cousin of the more famous El Nino weather anomaly, will most likely develop in the second half of 2010, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said Thursday.

La Nina will come hard on the heels of an El Nino blamed for excessive rains in Brazil and the worst drought in 37 years in India. That raises the distinct possibility of more storms developing during the Atlantic Hurricane season which begins on June 1.

CPC, a unit of the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, said a large number of computer models indicates "the onset of La Nina conditions."

CPC said that many computer models have shown an increased tendency for cooler sea surface readings.

This, in addition "to various oceanic and atmospheric indicators, indicate a growing possibility of La Nina developing during the second half of 2010."

In the more famous El Nino, there is an abnormal warming of waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, wreaking havoc on weather patterns from Asia to Latin America and up into North America.

El Nino would allow wind shear to seep into the Atlantic, tearing apart embryonic storms forming in the area.

La Nina has the opposite effect and its formation could lead to a spike in the number of hurricanes which form during the storm season which runs to November 30.

More storms could disrupt crude production off the U.S. Gulf coast at a time when the industry is wrestling with the massive oil spill after the explosion and sinking of a BP Plc rig, one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.

La Nina literally means 'little girl' in Spanish while El Nino means little boy.

El Nino was first noticed by 19th century anchovy fishermen off Latin America because it normally appeared during Christmas. The Catholic fishermen called it El Nino in honor of the Christ child.

Its severe disruptions have caused everything from drought in Indonesia and Australia to flooding in Bolivia and Ecuador among others.

The impact of La Nina on Brazil, the world's top grower of sugar and coffee, would likely be drier weather which could turn into a drought.

The ample rains which drenched Argentina, spurring the soy crop to a record 54.8 million tonnes in 2009/10, could vanish if La Nina hits. The country is the world's No. 3 exporter of the grain and its derivatives.

(Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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