El Nino conditions set to continue for several months

(Reuters) – El Nino is expected to continue for several months, with a 73% chance it will retreat between April and June, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) said on Thursday.

El Nino is a weather pattern associated with a disruption of wind patterns that means warmer ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific.

It can provoke extreme weather phenomena such as wildfires, tropical cyclones and prolonged droughts, and has impacted markets, especially emerging markets that are the most exposed to swings in food and energy prices.

Costs of staples in Brazil, including beef and rice, have started to accelerate following a drop in farm output blamed on El Nino.

Brazilian crop agency Conab said the El Nino weather pattern has disrupted grain production across the South American nation by causing excessive heat and dryness.

Elsewhere, Ecuador has rationed energy because of a drought caused by El Nino that reduced output at hydroelectric plants.

“El Nino often produces warmer and wetter winters, which can result in heavy snow and power outages. For the past 10 years, Generac has tracked and seen a 20% increase in (U.S.) power outages in El Nino winter months,” said Aaron Jagdfeld, president and CEO of power equipment maker Generac.

Japan’s weather bureau said earlier on Thursday that there was a 40% chance that El Nino would continue into the end of the Northern Hemisphere spring.

(Reporting by Anjana Anil and Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; editing by Barbara Lewis)