An El Niño event that could disrupt global weather is likely by the end of what has already been a hot year, the UN said Monday.

The World Meteorological Organisation forecast "a 70 percent chance of an El Niño developing by the end of this year," a WMO statement said.

El Niño is triggered by periodic warming in the eastern Pacific Ocean which can trigger drought in some regions, heavy rain in others.

"WMO does not expect the anticipated El Niño to be as powerful as the 2015-2016 event, but it will still have considerable impacts," the statement said.

The organisation sees increased odds of higher surface temperatures in most of Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America, Africa and along much of South America's coastline.

Interior parts of South America, Greenland, many south Pacific islands and some in the Caribbean were identified as possible exceptions.

WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas noted that 2018 "is on track to be one of the warmest on record", after especially high temperatures in July and August across several parts of the world.

The 2015-16 El Niño was one of the strongest ever recorded, and had an impact on global temperatures, which saw 2016 enter the record books as the warmest year.

As well as heat, the event also led to drought in Africa that saw food production plummet in many countries across the continent. South America saw floods across Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

For the first time, the WMO has coupled the El Niño update with a global seasonal climate outlook for the September-November period.

The forecast says that above normal surface temperatures are forecast in nearly all of the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, North America, Africa and much of coastal South America.

While El Niño events normally occur every five to seven years, the recurrence of the event so close to the previous one, suggests that climate change may be having an impact.

"Climate change is influencing the traditional dynamics of El Niño and La Niña events as well as their impacts," said Petteri Taalas.

"2018 started out with a weak La Niña event but its cooling effect was not enough to reduce the overall warming trend which means that this year is on track to be one of the warmest on record."

Separately, Japan's weather bureau said there is a 60% chance the El Niño weather pattern emerging during the northern hemisphere autumn from September to November.

Kenneth from the Donegal Weather Channel


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