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The likelihood of a wet winter for parched California took a hit Thursday as federal forecasters say that only a "weak" El Nino is predicted for later this year.

"There is a "60-65% chance of an El Nino," said Climate Prediction Center (CPC) deputy director Mike Halpert when reached by phone on Thursday.

"A majority of models ...favor a weak El Nino," noted an online forecast from the CPC. "At this time, the consensus of forecasters expects El Nino to emerge during September-October and to peak at weak strength during the late fall and early winter."

Halpert added that there's still a 1 in 3 chance that it won't develop at all.

El Nino, a seasonal climate pattern in which tropical Pacific Ocean water temperatures are warmer than average, is one of the main influences on winter weather in the U.S. and around the world. Depending on their strength, El Ninos sometimes – but not always – deliver significant amounts of rain and snow to much of the Western U.S.

Typically, a strong El Nino can result in a stormy winter along the West Coast, a wet winter across the South and a warmer-than average winter for parts of the North.

California is in desperate need of winter precipitation. The state is enduring one of its worst droughts on record. As of Thursday, 100% of the state was in a drought, including 58% in "exceptional" drought, the worst level, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported.

Earlier this year, the buzz within some weather circles was for a strong El Nino to develop later in the year, due mainly to unusually warm waters that were detected below the ocean surface in the spring. Speculation was that it could approach the historic 1997-98 El Nino in intensity. In May, the CPC gave an 80% chance of an El Nino.

But the warming trend did not continue in the summer and has only recently began to ramp up again.

The CPC's official forecast for the winter will be released in mid-October.

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