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(Salt Lake City-AP) -- El Nino is petering out and forecasters say Utah and the West could be in for another four years of dry weather.
El Ninos occur when parts of the tropical Pacific Ocean become warmer than normal, producing rising moist air that can change the upper air wind, sometimes affecting weather around the world.
It had been hoped that the El Nino pattern this past year would reverse the West's dry cycle, now in its fifth year.
However, the water warmed only two degrees over the past year and in an area smaller than predicted. El Nino's lackluster performance contributed to one of the driest winter months on record in Utah.
Statewide, snowpack levels are running about 50 percent of normal.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)