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Forecasts in limbo at end of La Nina

Meteorologists say the end of last year's La Nina may produce uncertain climate forecasts

PASADENA, CA (UPI) | July 1, 2011

U.S. meteorologists say the end of last year's La Nina phenomenon three months ago could leave climate forecasts in limbo, with a high degree of uncertainty.

The period between the La Nina and El Nino phenomena has been dubbed La Nada -- the nothing -- by NASA climatologist and oceanographer Bill Patzert, who says previous protracted La Nada periods have often delivered unruly jet stream patterns and wild weather swings.

While some forecasters have suggested La Nada will bring about normal weather conditions, other climatologists are pondering whether a warm El Nino pattern -- which often follows La Nina -- may be lurking in the near future, a release from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said this week.

That would be perfectly fine for the United States, Patzert says.

"For the United States, there would be some positives to the appearance of El Nino this summer," he says. "The parched and fire-ravaged southern tier of the country would certainly benefit from a good El Nino soaking.

"Looking ahead to late August and September, El Nino would also tend to dampen the 2011 hurricane season in the United States.

"We've had enough wild and punishing weather this year. Relief from the drought across the southern United States and a mild hurricane season would be very welcome," Patzert says.

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