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El Nino could ease US weather woes

WASHINGTON — Relief may be on the way for a weather-weary United States with the predicted warming of the central Pacific Ocean brewing this year that will probably change weather worldwide. But it won’t be for the better everywhere.

The warming, called an El Nino, is expected to lead to fewer Atlantic hurricanes and more rain next winter for drought-stricken California and southern states, and even a milder winter for the nation’s frigid northern tier next year, meteorologists say.

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While it could be good news to lessen the southwestern US drought and shrink heating bills next winter in the far north, ‘‘worldwide it can be quite a different story,’’ said Ken Kunkel, atmospheric sciences professor at North Carolina State University. ‘‘Some areas benefit. Some don’t.’’

Globally, it can mean an even hotter year coming up and billions of dollars in losses for food crops.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration issued an official El Nino watch Thursday. El Nino is a warming of the central Pacific once every few years. It shakes up climate around the world, changing rain and temperature patterns.

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