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Adios La Nina: NASA Predicts Weather Pattern Running Out of Steam

Aired May 9, 2000 - 1:10 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Enough days of dusty, hot weather and we could face severe drought by the end of summer. That's what climate experts say. And they even have a scapegoat: a mysterious weather pattern called La Nina. No wonder all eyes are on the satellites.

And as CNN's Natalie Pawelski reports, new images reveal we might be off the hook from La Nina soon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The weather system blamed for flooding parts of Africa and South America, drying out the American South and adding danger to hurricane season is running out of steam, according to NASA.

TONY BUSALACCHI, NASA OCEANOGRAPHER: La Nina as we know it is not over at the present tine, but we do expect it to decay and die out towards the summertime.

PAWELSKI: The La Nina weather system followed its more famous brother, El Nino, which is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific. La Nina is the opposite, featuring a band of cold ocean temperatures. Now NASA's data shows parts of the Pacific warming up again, and the big question is, how long will it take for the world's weather to return to normal?

VERN KOUSKY, NOAA METEOROLOGIST: Historically, techniques for forecasting El Nino and La Nina had a very difficult time predicting things through the spring months. So I think it's maybe a little bit early to kiss it off or say goodbye to it this year.

PAWELSKI: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it may take up to half a year for La Nina to die. NASA's best guess is closer to three months. The difference could be important for hurricane season, which lasts into the autumn, since La Nina makes it more likely that hurricanes, once born, will make landfall.

KOUSKY: Everybody should keep their eyes focused on the tropical storm season.

BUSALACCHI: Expect hurricane season to be slightly above normal, but probably not as strong as last year, and then with the effects of La Nina dying out into the second half of the hurricane season.

PAWELSKI: This La Nina turns 2 this summer. But La Ninas can last for up to three years. Victims of its droughts, floods and hurricanes are hoping this La Nina, the worst in half a century, makes a relatively early exit.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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