El Nino appears to have waned.

The latest report from the national Climate Analysis Center indicates patterns related to El Nino a warming of the waters of the Pacific off South America have returned to normal, said William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service's Salt Lake office."I guess we can kiss this El Nino episode off, and wait with bated breath for the next one."

El Nino was blamed for the "split" pattern that caused storms to miss northern Utah the past two winters, resulting in a lower-than-normal snowpack and worries about water shortages.

El Nino's waning may not be all good news, though, Alder said. The phenomenon sometimes produces wet springs and summers in Utah, and "we kind of want one now due to the water situation."

This El Nino episode lasted about two years, "one of the longer ones, though it wasn't very strong," Alder said.

El Nino usually occurs about every five to seven years, although that varies. In recent years, El Nino episodes have been in 1976-77, 1982-83 and 1986-88.