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The dreaded warm Pacific Ocean water mas

December 9, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The dreaded warm Pacific Ocean water mass known as El Nino may be ebbing, according to a report today.

New satellite data released by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows the mass has shrunk by at least 10 percent, falling to a level last observed in early September, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Climate experts have called El Nino one of the century’s largest and most disruptive weather phenomena. It was blamed for a storm this weekend that dumped nearly 8 inches of rain on Southern California and caused $10 million in damage.

Even if El Nino is waning, it has already released enough energy into the atmosphere to continue disrupting weather around the world.

``Anybody who thinks El Nino is going away in the next two months is doing wishful thinking,″ JPL research oceanographer Bill Patzert said. ``This baby is still big.″

The latest glimpse of El Nino comes from a NASA satellite that monitors the status of the world’s oceans by measuring how changing temperatures make the sea surface rise or fall.

Based on the data collected last week, oceanographers concluded that El Nino has just completed its second peak. If history repeats itself, scientists say, this year’s current could peter out over the next several weeks. Or, El Nino may simply be pausing, before gathering even greater force.

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