GENEVA -- A mature and strong El Niño event, which is contributing to extreme weather patterns, is expected to strengthen further by the end of the year, said the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The WMO said the peak three-month average surface water temperatures in the east-central tropical Pacific Ocean would exceed two degrees Celsius above normal, placing this El Niño event among the three strongest since 1950.

Previously, the three strongest El Niño events took place in 1972-73, 1982-83 and 1997-98.

Typically, El Niño events peak late in the calendar year, with maximum strength between October and January of the following year. They often persist through much of the first quarter of that year before dying down.

"Severe droughts and devastating flooding being experienced throughout the tropics and sub-tropical zones bear the hallmarks of this El Niño, which is the strongest in more than 15 years," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

The WMO released its update on the eve of an international El Niño conference in New York. The conference aims to increase scientific understanding of this event and its impacts, and help boost resilience to anticipated global socio-economic shocks related to it.

"Our scientific understanding of El Niño has increased greatly in recent years. However, this event is playing out in uncharted territory. Our planet has altered dramatically because of climate change, the general trend towards a warmer global ocean, the loss of Arctic sea ice and of over a million square km of summer snow cover in the northern hemisphere," said Jarraud.

"So this naturally occurring El Niño event and human induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways which we have never before experienced," he warned. (PNA/Xinhua)