A U.S. government weather forecaster on Thursday raised the likelihood that El Niño conditions would last into the Northern Hemisphere's early spring to 85 percent, up from 80 percent in the prior month's forecast.
The Climate Prediction Center, an agency of the National Weather Service, also maintained its forecast that the chances of El Niño conditions lasting through the Northern Hemisphere winter were more than 90 percent.
El Niño, the warming of Pacific sea-surface temperatures, can have devastating consequences for agriculture, triggering heavy rains and floods in South America and scorching weather in Asia and as far away as East Africa.
El Niño conditions would probably contribute to a below-normal Atlantic hurricane season and to above-normal hurricane seasons in both the central and Eastern Pacific hurricane basins, the CPC said.
A busy Atlantic hurricane season from June to November can disrupt energy operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
The CPC added that across the contiguous United States, the effects of El Niño are likely to remain minimal during the remainder of the summer and increase into the late fall and winter. The weather pattern increases precipitation in key U.S. agricultural regions.