updated 11/1/2007 9:24:22 AM ET 2007-11-01T13:24:22

The La Nina weather phenomenon blamed for drought in the southern United States and flooding in Africa will last for another five months, the U.N. weather agency said Wednesday.

The tropical wind patterns currently seen across the central and eastern Pacific, with sea temperatures up to 2.7 Fahrenheit cooler than normal, appear to be an average La Nina event, an official with the World Meteorological Organization said.

"These conditions can cause unusual and sometimes severe weather events ... in the immediate area of the Pacific basin but also around the world," said Leslie Malone, a scientific officer with WMO.

She said WMO was unable to predict how La Nina will affect the weather in any given region, but in recent weeks U.S. climate experts have predicted warmer-than-average temperatures this winter for states such as Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.

Texas fire officials said last week they fear the La Nina conditions, which usually bring warmer temperatures, low humidity and little rainfall to the state in the winter, may cause wildfires.

La Nina normally lasts 9 to 12 months and causes severe weather — from droughts to heavy storms — across the globe.

Unusually heavy rains in some eastern African countries and continuing dry conditions in many parts of Australia are a result of this year's La Nina, Malone said.

Since June, floods have killed at least 200 people and displaced hundreds of thousands in 17 African countries, including Sudan, Uganda and Kenya in the central and eastern parts of the continent.

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