January 19, 2016 / 6:04 AM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-Australia says El Nino likely to end in Q2, La Nina could follow

* Pacific Ocean temperatures cool 3 degrees Celsius since late Nov

* Both neutral climate or La Nina equally possible by end-2016 (Adds forecast, details)

SYDNEY, Jan 19 (Reuters) - A strong El Nino weather pattern will likely end in the second quarter of 2016, with climate indicators either returning to normal or making way for La Nina conditions after that, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on Tuesday.

La Nina is the opposite of the better-known El Nino weather event characterized by warmer waters in the tropical Pacific with knock-on effects that can cause billions of dollars of damage to food and water supplies around the globe.

La Ninas happen unpredictably every two to seven years, with the last extreme event, judged by a sharp cooling of Pacific surface waters, in 1998-99.

While climate indicators remain in the El Nino threshold as of now, they have cooled in recent months, the BOM said.

The BOM said ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean have cooled by 3 degrees Celsius since late November and that sea surface temperatures had also dropped.

But recent tropical cyclone activity in the central tropical Pacific has produced strong westerly winds along the equator that may temporarily slow the decline of El Nino, the BOM said, adding that according to its weather models, neutral and La Nina states were equally likely for the second half of 2016. (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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