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U.S. weather forecaster still sees 70 percent chance of summer El Nino

(Reuters) - The U.S. weather forecaster maintained its outlook for the El Nino weather phenomenon in its monthly update on Thursday, pegging the chances of the weather pattern striking during the Northern Hemisphere summer at 70 percent.

The Climate Prediction Center, an agency of the National Weather Service, said there was close to an 80 percent chance of El Nino, that can wreak havoc on crops, during the fall and early winter.

The agency downplayed the likelihood of a strong El Nino, predicting it will peak at "weak-to-moderate" strength during the late fall and early winter and last until spring of 2015.

"Over the last month, no significant change was evident in the model forecasts ...., with the majority of models indicating El Nino onset within June-August and continuing into early 2015," it said.

(Reporting by Josephine Mason in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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