There is a 50% chance that the weather phenomenon known as El Nino will develop during the second half of 2012, U.S. government forecasters said Thursday.
El Nino is the name given to the unusual warming of the waters of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which has broad- reaching effects.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that among El Nino's effects are potential dry and warm conditions in normally wet regions of the world such as Indonesia and Australia. Places that are normally dry, such as western South America and the southwest U.S., tend to be much wetter than normal.
In El Nino events, Western Canada and Alaska, along with portions of the U.S. Midwest, tend to experience a much warmer-than-normal winter, while the southeast U.S. tends to experience wet and cool conditions throughout much of an El Nino winter.
The opposite of El Nino conditions is La Nina, or the unusual cooling of the equatorial Pacific.
NOAA said neutral conditions, with neither La Nina nor El Nino in place, are expected to continue through August.