The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center on Thursday issued an El Nino watch for the next six months, a climate pattern that is likely to play a role in this year’s Atlantic hurricane season. 

In a statement, NOAA said the indications are favorable — a 62% chance — for an El Nino pattern to form sometime from May to July. The pattern is characterized by warmer ocean temperatures and higher than normal precipitation in the central to eastern Pacific Ocean. 

The El Nino pattern would follow nearly two continuous years of La Nina conditions in the Pacific. 

El Nino and La Nina are opposite extremes of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern that occur across the equatorial Pacific and can influence weather across the United States and around the world. NOAA monitors ENSO and issues monthly outlooks on the patterns. 

The agency’s El Nino watch comes as the first forecast for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season was issued by Colorado State University (CSU), led by meteorologist Philip Klotzbach. 

The CSU forecast calls for a slightly below normal hurricane season but cautions there is a great deal of uncertainly as the forecast depends heavily on the likelihood of El Nino forming and how strong it might be. The warmer than normal ocean temperatures associated with El Nino are conducive to an active hurricane season. 

The CSU forecast predicts 13 named storms to form during the 2023 season compared with the annual average of 14.4. Of those, CSU predicts six would become hurricanes, compared with the annual average of 7.2. 

The forecasters predict two of those will become major hurricanes — those with winds topping 179 kilometers per hour — compared with the average of three. 

The official Atlantic hurricane season of the U.S. National Weather Service, which is part of NOAA, runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. 

Some information for this report came from Reuters. 

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