PORTLAND - What a difference a few weeks can make in the climate business! The National Weather Service has abruptly changed its mind over the odds of a colder, wetter-than-average winter to come.

Its June forecast, which called for a 70 percent chance of a La Nina event showing up in a few months, was based largely on extensive ocean cooling in the central and eastern tropical Pacific observed last May. The forecast was featured last month in Science magazine.

But the forecast wasn't even official before the ocean began warming to normal levels for this time of year. At a July El Nino/Southern Oscillation diagnostic discussion, scientists at the Climate Prediction Center said the latest sea surface and subsurface temperature data do not support the development of La Nina conditions over the next few months.

Instead, the model forecasts "indicate considerable uncertainty during the next few months," said Vernon Kousky, ENSO specialist at NOAA. Most scientists are predicting near-neutral conditions during the last half of 2003.

-NW Fishletter produced by Energy NewsData

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