NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. government weather forecaster on Thursday said current La Niña conditions are likely to dissipate by February and neutral conditions are likely to continue during the first half of the year.


The Climate Prediction Center (CPC), an agency of the National Weather Service, said in a monthly forecast that La Niña continued through December and the effects, even as the conditions fade, may continue to be felt during the coming months.


Last month, the forecaster predicted that the weak La Niña was likely to fade early this year.


Typically less damaging than El Niño, La Niña is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and tends to occur unpredictably every two to seven years. Severe occurrences have been linked to floods and droughts.


(Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Frances Kerry)