NEW YORK, March 6 (Reuters) - U.S. weather forecaster, the Climate Prediction Center (CPC), issued on Thursday its strongest prediction so far that the infamous El Nino weather pattern could emerge in the Northern Hemisphere during summer or autumn.
CPC said in its monthly report it saw neutral El Nino conditions continuing through the Northern Hemisphere in spring 2014, but a 50 percent chance of the weather pattern developing during the summer or autumn.
This marks the first time CPC has been on watch for El Nino since October 2012.
The El Nino phenomenon, the warming of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, can cause flooding and heavy rains in the United States and South America and can trigger drought conditions in Southeast Asia and Australia.
The forecast will be closely watched by the U.S. crude oil industry as El Nino reduces the chances of storms in the Gulf of Mexico that could topple platforms and rigs there.
The CPC's latest outlook brings the forecaster in line with other global meteorologists that have raised their outlook for El Nino's potential return.
(For FACTBOX on risk of El Nino increasing, please click on ) (Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Sophie Hares)