La Nina nearly dead - forecasters

2012-03-13 17:54

Sydney - The La Niña weather pattern blamed for heavy rains and crop destruction in the Asia-Pacific region over the past two years is coming to an end, forecasters in Australia said on Tuesday.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said climate models suggest the recent period of La Niña should reach a "neutral" state by around April or May, echoing the findings of forecasters in the US.

La Niña is an abnormal cooling of waters in the equatorial Pacific which can last for years, wreaking havoc over weather conditions in Asia and the Americas.

Its more infamous counterpart, El Niño, leads to a heating of those waters while sparking drought in Southeast Asia and Australia, as well as floods in South America.

Sea surface temperatures across the central tropical Pacific Ocean are now near normal, according to the Australian bureau.

Australia, the world's fourth-largest wheat exporter, is expected to produce an above-average crop this year as farmers experience improved weather conditions across the country, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

Cotton and rice crops are also expected to improve.