GENEVA (Reuters) - Cool sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific point to a La Nina phenomenon, but it is too early to predict the impact on global weather, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday.So there you have it: "La Nina conditions unusually early in the year, too soon to predict that impact on the global weather" says the UN meteorologist. The Reuters reporter scribbles for a minute, nodding, and responds "Yes, I see. What impact will this have on global weather?"
The phenomenon was also not expected to last long, the U.N. agency said in a statement.Now we know. The La Nina will be brief unless it last longer. It may also turn into its opposite, El Nino. As a possible result of any of these eventualities it may rain less, more or about the same. It may be warmer unless it is colder. But no matter what happens it will be "devastating."
Combined with other oceanic and atmospheric conditions, the temperatures were "consistent with the early stages of a basin-wide La Nina event," the WMO said.
But the agency said it very early in the year for the appearance of a basin-wide La Nina, which can upset normal weather and bring heavy rains and droughts, and this made it hard to predict its impact.
"There is some additional uncertainty over the extent to which typical La Nina rainfall and temperature patterns will occur," it said.
Furthermore, the phenomenon was expected to be relatively short-lived, with a return to what the agency called "neutral" conditions by the middle of the year or shortly thereafter.
In the Philippines, where a community of 1,800 people was entombed by a landslide last month on Leyte island, the national weather bureau has said that typhoons, flood and rains since November might be linked to development of La Nina.
The WMO said careful monitoring would be needed for indications that La Nina could last longer or even turn into an El Nino event, which can also have devastating climatic effects and occurs when sea surface temperatures rise substantially.
"Neither of these two scenarios is considered likely, but cannot be ruled out at the current time," the WMO said.
Nasty stuff, weather.