U.S. forecaster sees La Niña likely to persist in coming months

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. government weather forecaster on Thursday said that previously predicted La Niña conditions have arrived and are slightly favored to persist into the Northern Hemisphere winter 2016-17. The Climate Prediction Center (CPC), an agency of the National Weather Service, in a monthly forecast said it observed La Niña conditions during October and sees a 55 percent chance they will persist through the winter. Last month, the agency pegged the chance of La Nina developing this fall at 70 percent. La Niña will likely raise temperatures and reduce precipitation in the southern United States and do the opposite across the northern part of the country, the CPC said. Typically less damaging than El Niño, La Niña is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and tends to occur unpredictably every two to seven years. Severe occurrences have been linked to floods and droughts. (Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)