By Seher Dareen
(Reuters) – La Niña has ended and ENSO-neutral conditions are expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring and early summer 2023, a U.S. government weather forecaster said on Thursday, with El Niño possibly forming during summer 2023 and persisting through the fall.
“The forecaster consensus favors ENSO-neutral through summer 2023, with elevated chances of El Niño developing afterwards,” the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center said.
The La Niña weather pattern is characterized by unusually cold temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
There was an over 50% chance of the El Niño weather pattern emerging by the July-August-Septmeber period, the U.S. forecaster highlighted, as some regions braced for a hit to crop production.
The El Niño phenomenon is a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific, sometimes causing crop damage, flash floods or fires.
“A weak monsoon – which has been observed in previous El Niño years – could lead to lower production of rice not only in India but across Southeast Asia,” said Mark Brusberg, Chief Meteorologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In Australia, the wheat crop is likely to face risks from dry weather due to the El Niño weather pattern in the second half of the year, while India’s weather office has warned that another heatwave in March is likely, especially in the key wheat-producing central and northern states.
“In contrast, an El Niño could lead to a rebound in U.S. wheat production if the drought on the southern Plains were to abate, and Argentina could return to its role as a key contributor to the world supply of wheat, corn, and soybeans,” Brusberg added.
The emergence of El Nino could also strain global inventories of palm oil, as the condition usually results in below-average rainfall in main producers Indonesia and Malaysia.