October 24, 2017 / 5:02 AM / 3 years ago

Australia weather bureau says climate indicators near La Nina thresholds

FILE PHOTO: A supplied image shows three vehicles stranded on a highway flooded after Cyclone Debbie passed through the region near the township of Gunyarra, located south of the town of Bowen in Queensland, Australia, March 30, 2017. Australian Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on Tuesday climate indicators were near the levels associated with a La Nina weather event and pegged the chance of the weather pattern developing this year at 50 percent.

This is around double the normal likelihood of the weather event, the BOM said.

La Nina is the opposite of an El Nino, which is characterized by warmer waters in the tropical Pacific. While a La Nina can be less damaging than an El Nino, severe La Ninas are also linked to floods, droughts and hurricanes.

Analysts say a La Nina could impact the supply of global grains, particularly wheat and corn - where the United States is the largest exporter of both crops. The weather event is associated with lower-than-average rainfalls over North America.

“A La Nina would be bad for U.S. grain growers, which would help global wheat prices,” said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist, National Australia Bank.

Benchmark global wheat prices hit a decade low in August last year amid ample global supplies.

Japan’s weather bureau said earlier this month that there were growing signs of a La Nina pattern emerging as sea water temperatures being monitored near the equator in the Pacific Ocean were cooler than their benchmark levels.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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