July 15, 2016

Is the Blob Really Dead?

There is a fixation on vampires and the like in the popular media and it appears that this trend has now hit coverage of meteorology.   Some are now claiming that our region's meteorological warm-blooded nemesis, The BLOB, has returned from the dead.

Worse than that...it has been hiding beneath the surface of the Pacific.  Now this a bit personal to me, since I had called it dead in a previous blog, suggesting that the silver stake had passed through the heart of that torrid villain.

Just as a reminder, the BLOB is the invention of the Washington State Climatologist, Nick Bond, whose sense of humor is both endearing and quirky at the same time.  This feature is associated with a region of much warmer than normal surface water over the eastern Pacific and has had a major impact on fish and other critters in the ocean.  Research has shown that the BLOB was the result of unusually persistent high pressure over the eastern Pacific.

Back in early 2014, the BLOB was terrifying in its strength, with sea surface temperatures (SST) more than 2C (about 4 F) above normal (the figure  belowshows SST anomalies...differences from normal..for Feb-March 2014)

Even last summer, the BLOB was still in good form and even stronger than before, with warm anomalies approach 4C.  You will also note warm water along the equator associated with El Nino.

But just as a vampire deflates when it loses its blood supply, the BLOB has been weakened by the loss of its parent:  high pressure over the eastern Pacific.  Take a look at the SST anomaly for earlier this month.  If the BLOB is not dead, it is on life support--a shadow of its past self.  And the El Nino warmth along the equator is gone, with a ribbon of cool water instead.

Now some folks are suggesting that the BLOB is actually hiding under the waves, but that doesn't seem quite right, since the definition of the BLOB was based on surface conditions.  With El Nino gone and La Nina in the offering, there is little chance of the BLOB returning.  Trust me.

Of course, some folks can never be convinced...


  1. With our blob dead, what about the Atlantic Ocean. Your image shows that to also be relatively "cool"-looking. Does that mean a calmer hurricane season (now that we have entered that period).

  2. Thank you for this Cliff. I am glad you gave a good argument to set this one straight. I also hear, for summer lovers, nice temps from the 22nd to the 29th, but a downturn to cool again by the end of the month. Whatever happens this summer has been amazingly right about normal, or slightly below since it began. And that has been a nice change from the 2014 and especially 2015 searing heat. Again, central washington had over 50 days of 90 plus last summer, and like 10-15 over 100. So far nothing like that has been happening yet this summer, and with the peak of yearly temps (by daily average) falling in the week of July 25-31, it is possible that it will warm, but not searing hot like the last two summers. Warm and pleasant, like 80-85 most days would be fine.

  3. So they say there's a subsurface warm anomaly, and you say subsurface temperatures are normal? Wouldn't that all be settled by a single plot of that data?

  4. Hopefully it means a very cold winter


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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