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So Long, El Nino; Hello, La Nina


FILE - Displaced people gather at an artificial water pan near Habaas town of Awdal region, Somaliland, April 9, 2016. Across the Horn of Africa, millions have been hit by the severe El Nino-related drought.

FILE - Displaced people gather at an artificial water pan near Habaas town of Awdal region, Somaliland, April 9, 2016. Across the Horn of Africa, millions have been hit by the severe El Nino-related drought.

The monstrous El Nino weather pattern dubbed "Godzilla" by NASA (the U.S. space agency) is dead, scientists declared Thursday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the El Nino has ended, 15 months after its birth in March 2015.

"There's nothing left,'' NOAA Climate Prediction Center deputy director Mike Halpert said. "Stick a fork in it, it's done.''

The weather pattern, defined by warmer-than-average Pacific Ocean water, was one of the three strongest El Ninos on record, along with 1997-1998 and 1982-83. It has been linked to crop damage, fires and flash floods over the past year.

In the U.S., it delivered much-needed rain and snow to California, but failed to end the parched state's four-year drought.

The cyclical weather phenomenon triggered droughts in parts of Africa, India and Southeast Asia, and contributed to the heating up of the planet. Earth has had 12 straight record hot months and is likely to have its second straight record hot year.

The El Nino cycles occur every two or three years on average, and before we see the next one, we must contend with La Nina, the cooler opposite of El Nino, to take place in the Northern Hemisphere later this year.

NOAA forecasts a 50 percent chance of La Nina by the end of the hemisphere's summer, and a 75 percent chance by the end of the fall.

La Nina generally brings more hurricanes to the Atlantic, drier-than-normal conditions in the U.S. Southwest, and wetter conditions in the Pacific Northwest.

It often brings lots of rain to parts of Australia and Southeast Asia, and cooler temperatures in parts of Africa, Asia, South America and Canada.

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