‘Extremely weak’ El Niño arrives

After months of waiting, forecasters have declared that an El Niño ocean warming period has started.

The National Weather Service said Thursday that this El Niño is very weak and will do little in North America. It also will not do much to help California’s long-running drought.

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“At this time, these are extremely weak El Niño conditions, during a time of year when the influence of El Niño on weather patterns in North America or other locations outside of the Tropics is weakening,” federal forecasters said in a blog post.

El Niño is associated with a warming phase in certain areas of the central Pacific Ocean. It can affect weather patterns globally for months, including through increased flooding in some places, droughts in others, a weaker Atlantic hurricane season and a generally warmer planet.

Sea surface temperatures had been on the “borderline” of El Niño for a while but finally passed that line this month, the Weather Service said.

The Weather Service said there is a 50 percent to 60 percent chance that El Niño will last into the summer.