COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – NOAA is forecasting a third consecutive La Niña, with a 91% probability of the climate system lasting through November, according to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center. The climate pattern is given a 54% chance of sticking around during the upcoming winter.

La Niña is a cooler-than-average sea surface temperature regime in the eastern equatorial Pacific, which impacts the jet stream (winds aloft) and storm track. The opposite pattern is El Niño, when the waters are warmer than average for an extended period of time in the eastern tropical Pacific.

Climate scientists have dubbed this year’s pattern a “triple-dip La Niña” that has only been seen two other times since 1950. A third consecutive La Niña is expected to favor drier and warmer weather compared to the long-term average across much of the country, including drought-stricken areas of the West.

The outlook for the three-month period of September-November has only the Pacific Northwest and Florida in a wetter-than-normal precipitation cycle.

Quiet Atlantic hurricane season so far

La Niña is normally associated with an active Atlantic hurricane season, but that has not been the case this year due to a persistent layer of warm, dry and dusty air in the mid-levels across the Main Development Region of the Atlantic Basin.

Only five named tropical systems have been observed this year, most recently Hurricane Earl, which brushed past Bermuda over the weekend and brought warnings for high surf and dangerous rip currents along portions of the East Coast.

Winter temperature and precipitation outlook

Autumn temperatures are expected to remain generally above normal, with much-warmer-than-average readings forecasted for the Northeast and the southern Rockies.

The concern is that a third straight La Niña year would continue the long-term drought that plagued more than 40 percent of the nation this summer. La Niña typically results in a bulge of the jet stream that displaces moisture-laden Pacific storms northward.

Most La Niña winter seasons bring less mountain snow in the West, but wetter-than-normal conditions in the parts of the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes. The best chance for significant snowfalls is usually in the northern tier of states.