October 16, 2018

The Son of Blob is Back!

Yes, its back.

The Blob.   Or at least one of its offspring.

Remember, the BLOB is an area of anomalously warm water in the north Pacific.

If you dare to look, let me illustrate our scary situation.

Here is the sea surface temperature anomaly from normal for today.    A pool of warm water is found over the north Pacific and Gulf of Alaska, with some of it over 2C warmer than normal.  This is the signature of the "son of blob" (or "daughter of blob if you prefer")

Why such warm water?  Because there has been an amazingly persistent area of high pressure over the Gulf of Alaska.   To illustrate, let me show you a map of the average anomaly from normal conditions of the heights of the 500 hPa pressure surface (around 18, 000 feet) for the past 30 days.(see below).  Wow.

A very highly amplitude pattern.  You see the bright reds over the Gulf of Alaska?....that means high heights (equivalent to high pressure) over that area.  There is also a deep trough over the Rockies...that is why they have been getting unusually cold temperatures to the east of us. And another ridge over the eastern U.S--explains the persistent warmth there.

The sea level pressure difference from normal shows anomalously high sea level pressure over just the area where the sea surface temperatures were warm....the Gulf of Alaska.
This is no coincidence!  As shown by my colleague and BLOB meister Dr.  Nick Bond and his co-authors, persistent high pressure is associated with lighter winds.  Such light winds result in less mixing in the upper layer of the ocean, so less cooler water from below is mixed to the surface.

The result?  A warm water anomaly and the rebirth of the BLOB.  How long will BLOB Jr. last?  At least as long as we have persistent high pressure over the north Pacific.  As this point, it looks like things are evolving to a pattern with less high pressure offshore, so the BLOB should weaken.
Unless is doesn't!


  1. I'm guessing this is related to Fukushima radiation in the water.

    1. Not even remotely. Even when Fukushima occurred it didn’t spill enough material to warm an area of water this large by 2C, and in the 7.5 years since it happened what isotopes it released have all broken down. At this point you’d only be able to find any trace of it with the most sensitive of instruments and then you wouldn’t be able to separate any Fukushima signal from natural variations in radioactivity.

    2. That's a very credible guess

  2. How does the heat from volcanic activity in Hawaii figure in? I can't begin to guess, but I would think (hope) that somebody's paid attention to what must be a phenomenal amount of extra heat in the Pacific that is not normally present. Thoughts?? Can't be nil, and I would think it would-should go beyond CO2 "warming" model variables/variability.

  3. So don't bother with season passes to Crystal Mountain this year. Gotcha.

    El Nino + blob = Another non-winter. All the transplant Californians will love it.

  4. Deborah, How would Fukushima radiation cause any heating effects in the ocean; let alone a localized effect over the north Pacific? The blog says it is due to a persistent high pressure over the Gulf of Alaska.

    Nuclear reactors use pools of water and cooling towers to cool the nuclear reaction of fission or fusion. The radiation being spread is not a continuing reaction but the spread of decaying contaminated material. The decay heat is typically around 1.5% of the core heat so it would not be capable of any significant heating; even if it were contained in a small area.

  5. That is a very good point. The warming of the Pacific Ocean seems to be a serious climate issue.to be investigated.

  6. Another Ridiculously Resilient Ridge?

  7. Cliff, I'm guessing you meant to say "cold temperatures to the 'East' of us," but maybe not.

    Ellen Baker, what's your science for Hawaii's volcanic activity affecting N Pacific sea temperature?

    Disregarding that there have been volcanoes under the Pacific for tens of millions of years, among them the Hawaii/Emperor chain, with the mantle hot spot currently located under the Big Island's Southeast Central area, what additional mechanism associated with the late Kilauea eruption would affect sea temperature now in a way it hasn't in the past? Magma has flowed into the Pacific there, off and on, since the early 1980s, but not in any unique way, and certainly not in volumes not seen before.

  8. I notice that the Juneau forecast discussion is leaning toward a very strong low pressure system entering the Gulf of Alaska near the end of the week. And when the Alaskans talk "very strong", it means something. They are also talking a Fall Wind Event (something that is a big deal even for weather-tough Alaskan mariners) but not quite ready to forecast it yet for Friday, along with rain finally getting to the areas in the south panhandle that have been unusually dry.

    Our Seattle forecast discussion is also calling for a pattern change coming down from the Gulf next week, allowing more normal late October weather (read: wet, windy, cooler) to invade as we move into November.

    DOB (Daughter of Blob), as Cliff notes, might be short-lived. Unless the forecasters' long-term musings are wrong.

    For now, I'm enjoying the heck out this warm, sunny Mid-October. But I'm starting my preparation for November storms. I've got a lot of trees still in leaf. Not good unless they shed them in the next week. Winds be coming, as they always do, and when storms are delayed, they seem to arrive with a greater vengeance. Ideally, we'll get some 15 knot winds on my trees well before we get the 40 knot ones of November. Leaf pruning should be done gently.

  9. Cliff, why are we again having lighter winds, similar to the previous blob instigator?

  10. gee wiz. another blob in less than a decade.

    Weird coincidence of natural variability I guess.

    And you guys really want kick the carbon tax can down another decades worth of road Eh?

  11. Can you tell us more about how the Blob and El Nino will interact? Is this a recipe for disaster like the winter a few years back when ski resorts struggled to open? Am I going to be able to go skiing this winter?

    1. The blob and El Nino both occurred in Fall of 2015 (although I believe the blob died a fast death probably due to a very stormy Northeast Pacific that Fall.) It was a stormy and wet Fall and Winter with a solid snowpack. The winter that the ski resorts struggled was the previous winter. No El Nino that winter, it developed in mid 2015.

  12. All I gotta say, is that if we have another "non winter" (2004-2005 & 2014-2015), we'll see a near full collapse of many North Cascades Glaciers. The Lower Curtis Glacier on Mt. Shuksan this summer is so receded and thinned, I give the entire glacier less than 15 total years before its completely gone, maybe sooner!

    With another non-winter, we can also start the process of kissing our Pacific Northwest ski industry goodbye. In 2016 (year after the last non-winter) the ski / snowboard industry saw its lowest sales on record, and many smaller companies went under.

  13. John McBride - no idea whether or not undersea seismic activities affect ocean temps, but large scale eruptions above ground definitely affect global temps. Krakatoa and Pinatuba come to mind.

  14. BAMCIS said - "So don't bother with season passes... another non-winter."

    Calling last year a "non-winter" is blatantly false. What possible motivation would you have to say that?

    2018 winter (March): Snoqualmie Pass at a 10 year high for snowpack, 143% normal; Stevens Pass:145% of normal; White Pass 152% of normal. Alpental 200+" at the top; Mt. Baker with a 15 foot base.

    Every fall - like clockwork - we hear comments like "another non-winter". Do historical statistics and objective fact even matter anymore?

    1. BAMCUS did not refer to last winter as a "non-winter".

  15. Upper ocean temperatures have been rising at a faster rate than land per "Multi-model attribution of upper-ocean temperature changes using an isothermal approach" paper which one would assume enhances the surface water temperature during a low wind environment and these ridges are hypothesized to occur more often due to global warming effects "Recent amplification of the North American winter temperature dipole" And blobs are associated with warmer dryer conditions in the west which have resulted in more forest fires. I agree with Bruce Kay, kicking a carbon tax down the road because this one has flaws (they will always have flaws) seems a little short sighted.

  16. And we have a bingo! 1st Price tonight is a can of marinated persimmons from Chuck and Nancy’s persimmon orchard from Port Orchard. (Nerd emoji)

  17. Looking out at Saratoga Passage from Camano Island yesterday at sunset, there appeared to be a thin layer of fog on top of the water. Surface visibility was great, the Olympics as clear as could be and maybe even the outline of mountains on Vancouver Island. But on the waster what looked like a blanket. Is that was I was seeing? Is it the result of cold air temp and the warm water temp from the Blob? Thanks.

  18. OK you like B movies, you won me back even though I hate the sun and my wife is mad at you for supporting 1631. You do have a good radio voice.

  19. Eric Blair
    Ellen specifically didn't refer to atmospheric effects resulting from volcanic eruptions. She raised the question in regard to the warming of a large area of the N Pacific Ocean, and cited Hawaii.

    Where your response is concerned, both volcanoes you name ejected large volumes of aerosols that rose into the jet stream and stratosphere and were spread world wide, reflecting sunlight and lowering atmospheric temperatures, not raising them. Kilauea rarely exhibits an eruption of ash and while it has, although not currently, vented large volumes of sulfur dioxide and far lesser amounts of hydrogen sulfide.

    But note that Pinatubo is calculated to have erupted 250 MEGATONS, that's 250,000,000 tons of Sulfur Dioxide in a single day. Hawaii doesn't approach that in years. Krakatoa occurred to long ago to have been accurately scientifically measured, but likely ejected similarly enormous amounts of sulfur dioxide,, as well as powdered ash, into the upper atmosphere thus effectively reflecting sunlight for years.

    Both would serve to cool an ocean, not warm it, and both did. While magma from Krakatoa likely warmed the ocean immediate to the eruption the amount of warmed water is insignificant relative the volume of water warmed in the N Pacific to which Cliff refers.

    Cliff tells us why the water warmed. Volcanoes were not involved.

  20. Sorry, yes last winter was good for the snow pack. Perhaps there was too much of a generalization in the implication of El Nino + Blob creating a super El Nino where our region basks in a state of non-winter.

    As for the future of skiing/snowboarding in general south of Canada, most resorts are being bought up by large players. Independant resorts just don't have the economy of scale to survive multiple bad seasons. Their primary focus will become how to market those resorts when they are snow free.

  21. Since weather is trivial in retrospective, what caused 2014 to be such a dud? No blob. Neutral year, correct? Too many Pineapple Express?

    This Blob is interesting to talk about for sure. Its even on Komo now. The potential for it to be a very warm winter is there. The warm air also could be its very undoing.

  22. I was only asking if anyone's looked into the effects of natural vulcanism-slash-heat input to the Pacific currents, whatever the scale. 'Simply curious if the location and size of hot spots in the Ring of Fire has bearing; not postulating anything. Without knowing, I seriously doubt that the Fukishima event had much thermal output (in terms of scale). It's a big, big ocean. West Antarctica's volcanically active; that's unknown to some. Last thought: Curiosity and dogma make very poor bedfellows.

  23. 14-15 was the western pacific El Niño if I remember what Cliff said then. The warm waters were further west from North America.

  24. Western El Niño in 1415 is what I recall Cliff saying. Warm waters in the western pacific.

  25. Kick the can isn't fun when you have to pay extra for the same can everyone else gets for less.

    How is collecting a bunch of money from everyone in Washington then diveying it up amongst the winners (tribes, green energy that lobied, and wasteful government) going to help the environment? All it does is make things more expensive here.

    I'm reading a lot of "we can't wait". If YOU can't wait, then go out and buy that Tesla, get some solar panels, and make yourself feel better. Not fair to force the state into these rediculious taxes.. especially with no acutal benifit to the environment. Any tax should have a very strong plan behind it. This is literally a tax just to punish users.. WE'RE ALL USERS!! why would anyone support this other than those who get the money funneled into their pockets?

  26. I predicted all of this hysteria last spring. "But I can guarantee you next November and December we will hear the exact same thing: Drought. Happens every year, like clockwork. Might even begin in October. The only miracle would be if we didn’t hear that." March 4th, 2018, comment section.

    It’s been going on for 30 years, it’s not like it is difficult to predict anymore. And it will happen again next year, and the next and the next, regardless of the truth. Collapsing snowpack, drought, disasters for ski areas, etc . The forecast "could further starve snow-fed reservoirs..." That was fall of 2015 after the 14/15 year. Cannot tell you how much is 1) wrong with that statement and 2) how mind-bogglingly wrong that prediction actually was.

    And in truth - if facts actually matter - as Cliff has pointed out now multiple times, avg snowpack is increasing in the Cascades, and has been over the last ten years. That's right, increasing. And that includes 14/15 in the average.

    But facts don’t matter. I can absolutely guarantee you this: we will hear the exact same thing next year, and the next year... with 100% willful disregard for the actual scientific - that is what this is about, science, right? - 100% willful disregard for the actual scientific truth on Cascade snowpack.

  27. This is interesting. So what is it going to be in the future? More snowpack or less? More or less snowpack measured at what time of year? When is the metric for when "the future" is?

    You tell me. I am obviously ignorant even though you have presented about as much science as any of the other non-scientists. The "science" seens to suggest that in the future it is going to be warmer. The laws of thermodynamics with a smattering of fluid mechanics might come into play but most consider snow and warm to have a tenuous relationship.Warmer tends to at the very least suggest less snow pack by virtue of it falling higher at elevation where there is significantly less surface area for it to adhere to.

    Also lots of rained on snow on a ski slope as well as it being atypically warm in the lowlands is enough to put a hurt on skiing. The snow pack can be significant, but a Pineapple express can destroy conditions and keep people off the slopes as well as spending money at the resort.

  28. But facts don’t matter. I can absolutely guarantee you this

    Note: I don't ignore facts but I don't always have time to pursue or validate them which might suggest posting nothing might be a better choice, which I will be exercising from now on:

    Anyway, a few things for you:

    * Weather is still highly educated guesswork. A 50/50 chance of being right is still good odds with weather, even with modern science. Run models and then coin toss. There is JUST SO MUCH going on in the atmosphere....

    * Everyone has a vested interest in weather, even even common laypeople. Farmers, sailors and pilots know more about weather than most meteorologists in a lab looking at models. They just don't understand the hard science as to why. Weather is tangible for EVERYONE where as theoretical particle physics...not so much. So even everyday people should have a seat at the table, even if they are in need of some guidance.

    * Science is intimidating, because our country does not do a good job of teaching the language of science, which is math. If people can't understand it, they fear it.

    * Our country is still heavily steeped in religion, prophecy, the supernatural etc. It doesn't help. Disney is what it is, because that kind of thing is what reaches the broadest audience and its celebrated.

    * Our country also does a terrible job of instilling objective thought. Thanks, social media!

    * Thus people fall back on what they perceive, popular opinion, and occasionally common sense. Water is wet. Fire is hot. Snow melts when its warm...

    * Science is still at the behest of politicians and oligarchs, because they write the checks to pay for it. So science has a bit of a bias/ PR problem because politicians and oligarch have agendas. Is science really pure or is it still the job of the court wizard who has to respect the bidding of the Monarch.

    * Very few scientists will stake their reputations on being wrong. Period.

    *Academia is rife with its own issues, namely what sells their "brand" via bringing grant money and publishing scholarly articles that get institutions on the map. So even what should be the fountainhead of science is still of questionable morality and authenticity at times.

    So willful disregard is perhaps a bit strong, don't you think? More like guarded apprehension. As stated before, Science has a serious PR problem.

    Obviously people have to actually take even science on faith these days. That science perhaps has their best interests at heart, while still respecting their individuality is now a tough sell. That is one of the biggest bugaboos about climate change. Yes, this is a science blog, but it is on the public domain as a public service, granted with reserved authority to regulate content. Cliff might not be Neil Degrasse Tyson, but he does a fair job of making climate science a bit more compelling to non scientists and a healthy debate is OK hopefully because that could lead to greater understanding. Otherwise its just another echo chamber on the internet and serves no interest other than to further tribalism.

  29. Before anyone ever discussed The Blob I recall an amazing summer/fall. 1973. I crested Snoqualmie Pass on the day of the hydroplane races and stared into fog. I was moving to Seattle from Michigan. The fog lasted all day and the TV coverage of the races showed just a hint of the boats on the water. However that was the last foggy or cloudy day until the end of October. What an introduction to the "rainy" PNW.

  30. "Our country is still heavily steeped in religion, prophecy, the supernatural etc. It doesn't help."

    Yeah, those terrible "Deplorables," what do they know - ignorant rednecks, the lot of 'em, ammiright? After all, what did they ever do for us, besides fight and die in our wars, go out and rescue people in peril from natural disasters, go down sewers when our refuse backs up, risk their lives during forest fires, walk into dark alleys in order to save people who've overdosed, and reinstall power lines after storms. Who needs them?

    "Disney is what it is, because that kind of thing is what reaches the broadest audience and its celebrated."

    Weirdest and most bizarre attempt at linkage between popular entertainment and alleged ignorance yet. Yeah, Bambi's mother really did a number on all of those children.

  31. joseph - I'm aware that it is an anomaly . Even if there were 3 in a decade it would be, but that isn't my point

    My point is - particularly in consideration of the now decades old delay of implementing the carbon tax, something so well proven effective and low risk around the world but not so far in the country where it would be among the most impactful - is that what is now considered an anomaly will before too long be recognized as normal and then after that it will be seen as quaintly anomalous again but this time as something colder, not hotter. I believe this is what you yourself are saying.

    And by then perhaps America will finally have a carbon tax, but no salmon, orcas, red cedars or any number of things we all consider indispensable. That is how we should consider a lot of our present day "anomalies" such as forest fires or blobs. Not so much as directly indicative of present day climate change, but representative of the risks of whats coming down the pipe. if we did that, maybe we would look at our kids differently as we tuck them in, then immediately go to the polls and vote for the carbon tax.

  32. To Eric Blair..

    What? Seriously.

    Religion, prophecy or belief in the supernatural are required for exactly ZERO of those professions you mention. As in ZERO. ZIP. ZILCH. More like a work ethic and/or a sense of civic duty. You labeled them "Deplorable", not me, sir!

    Sure, there are traditions, but those do not define the work.

    Actions and belief are mutually exclusive. No one earned a Medal of Honor for being in Church every Sunday.

    Also, anything can drive science. It's a methodology not an ideology.

    Still, very conservative beliefs tend to be very constraining. It denies the full inquisitive nature that allows enough permutations to bring about a new discovery. Much of science tends to be contrast between what is known to not work versus what has not been attempted yet. You don't attempt anything, or limit those attempts, and what is known to not work wins.

    Also, Disney escapism is fine, if it is recognized as such. Many of our fellow citizens don't. People can blow all their money on Disney stuff, or invest some of it on tech that looks promising. Elon Musk is a better bet than Tony Stark, IMHO.

    Help that clarifies a few things. No harm intended!

  33. I understand your meaning with the added context, thanks for the clarification.

  34. I fear a repeat of the awful 2014/2015 ski season, blob winter + neutral gave us the worst ski season in a generation. Return of the blob plus a weak El Nino gives me PTS.

  35. Gosh! We can never win! The Blob and smoke are now are two worst enemies.

    Is there a way to track the Blob progress in real time?


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

Is Global Warming Causing Aircraft Turbulence to Increase?

 After the turbulence encounter by a Singapore Airlines aircraft,  there has been a slew of articles claiming that severe turbulence inciden...