Japan sees lower chance of El Nino this summer, high chance in autumn

Yuka Obayashi PlanetArk 11 Jul 14;

Japan's weather bureau said on Thursday that the possibility of an El Nino pattern forming this summer is lower than previously forecast, but it sees a high chance in autumn.

The Japan Meteorological Agency, which said last month that the El Nino phenomenon could emerge this summer and last at least until autumn, now expects one could only emerge sometime between September and November.

The El Nino - a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific - can trigger drought in Southeast Asia and Australia and floods in South America, hitting production of key foods such as rice, wheat and sugar.

The weather bureau lowered its forecast for sea surface temperatures in the monitoring area for summer as it expected the temperatures in July and August would be closer to average, Ikuo Yoshikawa, weather forecaster at the Japan Meteorological Agency said by phone.

Last month, the U.S. weather forecaster gave its strongest forecast that an El Nino weather phenomenon will strike during the Northern Hemisphere summer, pegging the likelihood at 70 percent in its monthly outlook. That was in line with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's latest outlook.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Michael Urquhart and Michael Perry)