WENATCHEE - Those who have ever seen the movie “The Blob” (either the 1958 original or the remake 30 years later), will know that things didn’t turn out so well for the residents of one small town it happened upon, and that the freezing cold turned out to be their best defense against the giant mass of purple slime.
Fast forward to this week in 2018, and strangely enough in meteorological terms at least, this classic fictional horror story is looking eerily like the real thing.
According to University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Professor Cliff Mass, a “Blob” of warm ocean water, approximately three to four degrees above normal temperatures, has once again been detected in the Northern Pacific. Mass announced the recent findings this week as part of his online weather blog (that’s “blog” …not “blob”).
If being compared to the “Blob”s of cinematic creation, this anomalous blotch located off the coast of North America between the Washington coastline and the Aleutian Islands, would rate as the sequel, since it’s the second such formation of its kind to have occurred there in the last four years.
The last ocean “Blob” crawled into the same region in late 2014, where it wound up lingering for over a year before dissipating and subsequently being blamed for aiding in what became the warmest winter and the hottest summer on record for much of Washington state.
Unlike the Blobs of the big screen, this one didn’t fall to earth as an alien life form or a secret biological weapon, instead it was manufactured by the planet’s oceanic and climatological cycles and is a direct offspring of a consistent and unrelenting pattern of high pressure over the Gulf of Alaska and the northeastern Pacific Ocean.
As Mass explained in his recent blog post, "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 of this is the warm water Blob which atmospheric watchdogs have now sniffed out.
As to how long this remake of the last climatological scare-fest might last, Mass wrote, "At 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!"
Regardless of whether or not this round of the Blob is just a short vignette or a months-long epic, odds are that it will still be a mild winter, since the likelihood of an El Nino season is becoming stronger all the time.