Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The BLOB is Back! And it is Affecting our Weather!

With all the scary news these days, you need to be prepared for one more unwelcome announcement:  the BLOB is back and its impacts are already apparent.


Perhaps, you already know about our red menace, a large area of warmer than normal sea surface temperatures over the northeastern Pacific.  You can see the strengthening and extension of the BLOB in a series of temperature maps over the eastern Pacific, with the shading showing the differences of the sea surface temperatures from normal (yellow to red are above normal in degrees C).

During the last week in March, there was warmer than normal temperatures offshore, but near normal just off of the entire West Coast.
By late April, the warm blob had strengthened considerably, with an extension reaching the California/Oregon coast.

And last week, the warmth really surged up and down the West Coast, including off the Washington Coast, which was roughly 1-1.5C (2-3F) above normal



From past experience, we have learned that warmer than normal Pacific ocean temperatures tend to increase the minimum temperatures west of the Cascade crest.  If you are leaving in western Washington, western BC or western Oregon have you noticed the morning warmth?

If not, let's check it out!    Here is a plot of  the temperatures at SeaTac Airport for the last 12 weeks (red line), with the normal highs (purple line) and lows (cyan line) also shown.  During the past month, the low temperatures have rarely declined to the normal lows, being around 3F above normal.  You don't see that behavior back in March.
Quillayute, on the northern Washington coast, shows the same warm minimum...just more so.  That makes sense--it is right near the Ocean.
In contrast, moving over to eastern Washington, where the marine influence is weaker, shows far less impact of the warm water, as illustrated by the temperatures at Walla Walla.
As long as the BLOB-related warm water along our coast sticks around, our minimum temperatures each day will be several degrees above normal.  Being BLOB-savvy I took advantage of its moderating effects and put in my tomato plants early.  They are quite happy and growing well.

How long will the BLOB last?   That will be a topic of a future blog!

19 comments:

  1. Not much effect from the "Blob" so far over here in the Spokane area.Nighttime temps have often been below normal until very recently.We are currently experiencing a major rainstorm due to an usually persistent return flow around a low slowly moving into Montana.1 to 3"+ rain today,especially in SE Wash and NE Oregon with river flooding.No upper ridge parked over this area yet,like in years with the "Blob".Maybe a pattern change in June?

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  2. Is there any connection between "the blob" (e.g., frequency of occurrence, size of the warmer-water region, magnitude of temperature increase) and climate change? Or is the "blob" a phenomenon completely independent from any long-term trends in global climate?

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    1. I would like to know the answer to this too. I don't think it has been directly addressed (or not addressed in a way for me to understand). Hopefully we get an explanation.

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  3. If the water is colder, does this promote sinking air creating the North Pacific High pressure that drives the North wind at the coast and the upwelling of nutrients? With warmer waters does this promote rising air creating a low surface pressure encouraging cloudy June gloom?

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  4. I just saw news that the UW is going to host a new NOAA research institute: Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean and Ecosystem Studies. Sounds interesting. Wondering if you're involved.

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  5. I looked at the 'sea temperature' setting today at the Windy (www.windy.com) site, and I don't see any blob.

    Are they using different data sources?

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    1. The temperatures are not "warm" overall, they are warmer than average. Check out the sea surface temperature anomalies. I don't think windy has a layer for that, but you can check out the data on NOAA's site. They also show absolute temperature, which should look like the map on windy.
      https://psl.noaa.gov/map/clim/sst.shtml

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  6. Thanks, adding this to my class assignment on the "Evil Sea Urchin", based upon this NYT article (that identifies The Blob as culprit for the ecosystem collapse of the CA coast): https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/22/climate/kelp-climate-change-california.html

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  7. Cliff,

    I welcome the blob's warmth as I'm ready for summer. Hopefully, it will be a nice reprieve from for us all during these challenging times. I also planted my tomatoes early and they look very happy!

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  8. Will this one be as significant as the one in 2015?

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  9. What happen, after this graphic ran in the Seattle Times in February of this year..........

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/feared-return-of-the-blob-fizzles-as-storms-churn-chill-pacific-ocean/

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  10. I love the BLOB, it is the antidote to COVID 19

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  11. FYI Facebook has labeled this as violating 'community standards' and banned links to any CF blogs. Salacious stuff indeed!

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    1. Did that to me too. This needs to be changed!

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  12. We're having May-uary over here in Port Townsend. How does the Blob relate to this?

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  13. Yup. Have been enjoying it because it's making it easier to get the little ones (1 and 3 years old) out of the house, even when it's a bit wet or drizzly.

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  14. The blob is just an effect of the high pressure blocking patterns that dominated the upper level pattern over the eastern north Pacific in March and April.

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  15. Been seeing warmer lows this week, and couple weeks ago when we were in the 80s. Saw it was 61 this morning, and with sleep still in my eyes, hopped over to this blog.

    I do hope the storms this and next weekend crumble the blob, else is like a link for flights to Antarctica.

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