(Reuters) - Amid waning El Niño conditions, weather patterns are expected to be closer to average through the Northern Hemisphere winter of 2019-20, with "ENSO-neutral conditions" having a 50%-55% chance of continuing during the season, a U.S. government weather forecaster said on Thursday.
ENSO-neutral conditions refers to those periods in which neither El Niño nor La Niña is present, and they bring equatorial Pacific Ocean temperatures, rainfall patterns and winds closer to average, according to the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center (CPC).
"While forecasters favor ENSO-neutral conditions, the odds of El Niño (at about 30%) are roughly twice that of La Niña for next winter," CPC said in its monthly forecast.
The El Niño pattern brings a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific every few years.
El Niño emerged in 2018 for the first time since 2016 and has been linked to crop damage, fires and flash floods.
It is the opposite of La Niña, characterized by unusually cold temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
(Reporting by Swati Verma in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum)