The hurricane-suppressing weather phenomenon known as El Nino could be weeks away from forming, according to the latest National Weather Service prediction.
The U.S. Climate Prediction Center, in its monthly update, put the chances at 55 percent between the months of July and September and 65 percent for the final three months of the year. It is the Center's strongest indication yet that 2012 could develop into an El Nino year.
Forecasters define El Nino conditions as above-average water temperatures in the tropical Pacific, which have major consequences for weather patterns around the globe.
For southern Louisiana, El Nino has a tendency to knock down hurricanes, producing wind shear that tears the storms apart before they can develop. However, it is worth noting that 1992, the year of an El Nino, produced Category 5 Hurricane Andrew.
Forecasters also note El Nino's consequences go far beyond tropical weather.
The phenomenon tends to produce warmer and drier winters in the northern United States, while the Southeast and Southwest often experience more rain during the winter months.