GENEVA, April 15 (Reuters) - A majority of weather forecasting models indicate that an El Nino weather phenomenon may develop around the middle of the year, but it is too early to assess its likely strength, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said on Tuesday.
El Nino, characterised by unusually warm surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, has a significant impact on climate in many parts of the world and a warming influence on global temperatures, the WMO said.
"Model forecasts indicate a fairly large potential for an El Niño, most likely by the end of the second quarter of 2014," the WMO said.
The WMO statement follows predictions by several national forecasters, including the U.S., Japanese and Australian weather bureaus, that an El Nino event was likely within months.
"For the June to August period, approximately two-thirds of the models surveyed predict that El Niño thresholds will be reached, while the remaining models predict a continuation of neutral conditions. A few models predict an earlier El Niño onset, such as in May."
The WMO said none of the climate models surveyed suggested there would be a La Niña event - the opposite of El Nino, which is associated with cooling - in 2014.
El Nino conditions could affect commodity prices and are likely to be blamed for extreme weather events. The worst El Nino on record in 1997/98 was blamed for massive flooding along China's Yangtze river that killed more than 1,500 people. (Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Stephanie Nebehay)