Yes, The BLOB is Back

It’s been going on for a month or two, but news that THE BLOB IS BACK is suddenly circulating through the Internet world.  Let’s talk about it:

  1.  The BLOB was named by Nick Bond (WA State Climatologist) well after if formed in late 2013.
  2. It’s a huge area of much warmer than normal sea surface water in the Eastern Pacific (offshore to our west).  It’s not a physical object or hump of water, but appears as a circular “blob” when looking at sea surface temperature anomaly maps.
  3. The blob was caused by persistent high pressure and relatively calm conditions over that area.  An accounting of the event is in Geophysical Research Letters
  4. It persisted for almost 2 years; from late 2013 to mid/late 2015.  The cause was a change in atmospheric circulation, detailed in another paper by UW professor Dennis Hartmann

Take a look at the progression of the blog…first in late 2013:


Then a close-up of the peak in early 2014:


Then later in 2014 (September):


Early 2015, notice it was spreading out and the warmth moved into our coastal waters:


Then to May/June 2015…that huge mass of water was there all during the summer of 2015:


Mr. Blob then died and the leftover warmer than normal water thinned out from late 2015 through this spring.  Essentially the blob died and the leftovers moved around and didn’t have much effect on last winter’s weather that we know of.

Now it is most definitely back from the dead…

Look at the global sea surface temperature map…even a casual observer can see the blob.  It appears to be the most anomalous feature on all of our global oceans!


Here is a closer view…



Note that right along the coast itself temperatures have NOT been warmer than normal most of this summer and are near to below normal right now as well.  That, plus the upper-level pattern, may be what allowed us to have more reasonable nighttime temperatures this summer.  We sure don’t want 8 degree warmer than normal water hugging our coastline in summer!  At least if you don’t like warm and humid weather.

Of course the next few questions:

  1. Where do we go from here?  Will it stick around this winter?
  2. What effect will it have on our fall/winter weather?
  3. Have we switched back to a similar upper-level pattern that brought us those terrible winters 13-14′ & 14-15′ in the Cascades?

I don’t have any good answers to those questions, although I’m worried about #3.    I think this is a total wildcard in an approaching winter that has a very high level of uncertainty anyway.  NOAA cancelled their La Nina Watch last week so we will likely be in “neutral” territory this year.  Anything goes, no La Nina OR El Nino.

Take a look at how different this post-El Nino fall looks in the Pacific compared to the same time after the last huge El Nino (1998).  Right now:


and the same time in the fall of 1998:


Back then with La Nina getting going we have a very cool NE Pacific (except just along the coastline).  Now we have incredible warmth.   It’s disappointing because just a few months ago it was looking like we might have a nice moderate/strong La Nina winter on the way.  Typically we get tons of mountain snow those winters.  Now we’re back to an average winter.  Or will it be something totally different (much colder/warmer/wetter/drier) than what we’ve seen the past 5 years?  I’d hate to be one of those people who have to make a seasonal forecast for the upcoming winter!

Thanks to Cliff Mass and his excellent weather blog for a few pics of the blob I used above.  He has a more thorough explanation of what’s been going on as well on a posting earlier this week.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

75 Responses to Yes, The BLOB is Back

  1. JJ78259 says:

    Another nice summer day in San Antonio it is Super Weather Dan weather 96 degrees plus some heat index should put us at 101 should see some pool action today!

  2. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Public Information Statement
    National Weather Service Portland OR
    621 AM PDT Sun Sep 18 2016


    • Garron 1/3 of a mile from Hillsboro Airport says:

      Thanks Pappoose, that was a fun tour of our area! Amazing how localized the rainfall was….

  3. Lee Wilson says:

    OK major Question For you all including Mark.
    Mark you weather people preach on being prepared for weather related events.

    Here is my questiin..oh local stations are voided, I know your companies have generwtors…so excluding the news stations,

    Are you prepared for a scenario be it weather or other event that would cause the grid to be interrupted?

    In other words are you prepared for a black out for what ever reason?

    That is my question.

  4. Lee Wilson says:

    I have a real question, does the blob effect or have anything to do with changes in the “Thermalhaline circulation?

  5. A whopping .07″ here. Must have been nearly a zonal (west-to-east) flow day because those conditions put me squarely in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. Sometimes I’m even in a “blue hole” in such conditions.

  6. Boydo3 N. Albany says:

    I see the NWS has once again renovated their home page and satellite image graphics. I must be getting old cuz it sure doesn’t do much for me. 🙂

  7. Sitting currently at 1.08″ precip today. All since 7am. Still raining. GFS did well I think.

  8. Lee Wilson says:

    We just hada small storm that just came through .

    We maxed out at 544 Watts at wich the turbine braked.

    Before that We hit 400 watts.

    I was wondering if any one knows what our wind speed was for today. around 2:00pm to 3:30 Pm?
    Because for us to hit 400 watts after a hand Startup means We at least had to have gusts up to 20 mph our turbine is rated for winds up to 110 mph .

    So, I am just wondering what all Occurredweather wise in the region. This Storm Seemed “sneaky”

  9. SortingHat says:

    Dam it! I almost forgot to post the rain total! 0.28 so far and light rain happening.

    At 12:45 our electric lights turned off for about a minute causing my computer to reset itself. We had a brief power cut.

    • Lee Wilson says:

      Get a solar or wind generator. ..then you will need error worry about your computer dying lol.

      Our system is mainly to keep our son’s medical foods preserved in case of power outage.

      We have solar, wind and a fossil fuel generator.

      Might be some good advice to get one of those 3 tthings.
      Unless your renting, then get a bike that you can peddal and get a good generator.

      Hey at least you will get your excersise…right?

  10. SortingHat says:

    Notice most of the blob is actually in the GOA this time around. I am liking that!

    This system is coming in from (underneath) it if you can call it that.

    Call it what you will but I think this time we have a chance of having a lot of sub freezing nights this winter because of a persistent northerly flow around the GOA ridge.

    The last week I recorded many low 40s and one 39F and the heat has been on full in the morning hours! I feel sorry for those stuck in yurts not expecting nights so cold compared to recent summers.

    This is normally mid October weather to have constant nights at or below 45F.

    The last few years the Big Blob was right off our coastline bringing us humid South West muck.

    • Lee Wilson says:

      Some of those Yurts have heaters ..and hot water on demmand.
      But I agree, I think we’re in for a rude awakening this year.

      And if the windstorm we had yesterday can sneak in undetected, then all I can say is the meteorologist are losing their ability to for cast accurately.

      I am not sure if it is software change or what.
      What ever it is, I been trusting my weather station more than the news media.

      I know this area can be rather difficult to predict but had the storm we got gave us some power and peeked at 400 watts. And it jumped to 500 watts which means the winds had to be at least 30 mph.

      Granted I may ha en spun up the turbine my hand as the bearings are still not quite broken in , but I highly doubt my spinning up the turbine would get it to 500 watts.

      At any rate, I am not complaining. 400 watts of power peak and 100 to 200 watts sustained for 30 minutes I won’t complain.

      Free power is free power and I won’t complain. 🙂

      But then again, what if they miss a really severe storm?

      As for freezing weather. That would bode us well if the days are sunny. We would have 20 amps out on our solar.
      Which would power all we have thus reducing our power cost.

      So either wind storm or clear freezing days we win.

      I just hope we can get a White Christmas this year.

  11. 0.62″ rain here. Not bad. Yard loves it.

  12. High Desert Mat says:

    Mark, you always do a stick a fork in winter post, I think it’s time you start doing all the seasons. At least the two that you can tell are clearly over. Don’t be so one-sided.

  13. Paul D says:

    Can we stick a fork in summer yet? Huh?!? Can we? Huh?!? Can we?? Puhleeeezzzz….. 🙂

  14. davidbarts says:

    46 overnight after a max of 67 yesterday. Today is dry up this way, but very hazy. Can still see Mt. Rainier despite that, so the haze seems to be pretty low-level. Is it as hazy around Portland today?

    Looks like we’re set for a wet weekend after a mostly dry work week. That’s never happened before, LOL.

  15. Mark Bergal says:

    Lol for the rest of the day .lollllll

  16. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    Waking up to some fairly dense fog here in Battle Ground. The low dipped to 46 before, and is now up to 50. It has been wall to wall sun the last several days, so this is a decent change in the surface conditions.

    Not a bad run of low temps the last several mornings:

    9th: 43
    10th: 45
    11th: 48
    12th: 41
    13th: 41
    14th: 41
    15th: 46

  17. JohnD says:

    Weather forecasting is–and always will be–an inexact science. But we do keep trying–amid continued technological advances. No doubt, “blobs”, El Ninos and La Ninas were all part of the action long before they were electronically defined and given names. Bob Lynott’s pioneer grease pencil dash marks around low pressure systems on his board worked the same–with greater or lesser success–than the graphics of the modern day.

    None-the-less this year looks to be a major league head scratcher. ‘Just hoping it includes the kind of action that most all of us hope for!

  18. Mike says:

    Warmer water will strengthen cyclones. Is that right? What caused the strength of the 1995 and 1996 wind storms when we had over 100 mile winds in the Portland area? They were pretty devastating. Was they warm water blob years? Just asking.

    • Scooter says:

      100 + winds in ’95 & ’96? Maybe in the Willapa Hills but not in Portland where the December 1995 storm had a peak gust of 74 mph.

  19. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    One thing people have to realize is one event, or one large event, can make an entire winter “great” (if you like snow)

    Take 2008-2009

    November was warmer and drier than normal.
    December, colder and way drier than normal.
    January, average, and drier than normal.
    February, cooler, and much drier than normal.

    If you take out the December event and an event in February, that winter was fairly boring, and certainly didn’t feature a ton of weather.

    In fact, most people don’t remember February 2009 as anything special, but I recorded 7.5″ of snow. If it weren’t for the December snows, that month would have stuck out more.

    • Tyler, it’s intresting to read your summary of the 2008-09 winter. I agree with you that one large event can overshadow an entire winter- however, I’m thinking it has to be VERY large to do that. February 2009 was much drier than normal at my location as well- but we had only half an inch of snow that month. March 2009 however had 5.5 inches and was a cold month as well. I’m also curious to know how much snow you measured in December? I had nearly 35 inches.

  20. Josh "The Snowman" from Gladstone, OR says:

    Silly comments once again from the typical “what have you done for me lately” mentality, of society today. I bet you within the last 2000 years there has been a “blob” in the pacific and we did just fine in the winter department. Cliff Mass has always struck me as a millennial trapped in an old man’s body. Feeding the ridiculous mantra that basically envelops anyone in the city limits of Portland and Seattle. Get a life and quit being political about every stupid thought you have in your head. We don’t want Hillary as president and we sure as hell don’t want to keep feeding the ridiculous machine that is liberal PNW. I prefer to take the weather as it comes and not let some alarmist skew my thoughts. Cliff “Al Gore” Mass.

    • Cliff’s (and Mark’s) posts on the blob are purely sticking to science. You’re the one who brought politics and Al Gore into it with your comment above.

    • Boring Oregon says:

      I completely agree with you Josh but I think we’re fighting an uphill battle. Most of the people on this blog are polar opposites of us in the political realm so I’ve decided to stop arguing. I’m not going to change their opinions and they aren’t going to change mine, plain and simple.

    • Josh, just remember this: You’re getting older all the time like everyone else. Won’t seem long, believe me, before someone addresses you as “Sir”!

    • Josh "The Snowman" from Gladstone, OR says:

      Lol. How old do you think I am? I’ve been called sir many time. And I am spot on with my observations. Cliff needs to quit looking through his Seattle rose colored glasses and open his mind some.

    • Well then if you’re old enough to be called “Sir” now, then you should be old enough to admit you can make mistakes like the rest of us.

    • …lets see…who do i listen to…a professor of meteorology, or a couple wackos from a weather blog…i think i’ll stick with Mr. Mass…

  21. Mark Bergal says:

    As a wise man said to me, the blob is not a driver of weather, but instead a byproduct. That said, it may have no influence at all. There is no blueprint, new normal, or redesign of our climate based on this alone. Nobody knows the outcome, so there could be astounding surprises or disappointment. Don’t second guess mother nature.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      I totally agre Mark. Whether it means cold or warmer we really don’t know. We just had the wettest winter in record last year and the blob was in full effect, so really it’s anyone’s guess. Maybe in 7-8 months we will have a better grasp on it then again maybe not, maybe it shocks us.

      I heard on another forum that maybe a cold trough sitting over the GOA for a time could in a sense “kill” it. That would make sense. So maybe it won’t even be there come November if that happens.

    • Yes, and the blob is shallow, which means a few strong storms can break it up and dilute it to death with cold water brought up from deeper in the ocean.

    • Nathan Place says:

      Book it, its the new norm.

      • Mark Bergal says:

        I feel bad for the individual, trying to play God. Saying it’s the new normal without adding IMO. You have no scientific evidence to support what is normal. I am sure others in here don’t appreciate the static language. Nobody knows the future. They are just educated guesses most of the time. As I said before, it could be full of surprises or not. We don’t know.

    • Nathan Place says:

      They say you can tell what type of winter we will have by the rings on the woolybear caterpillar, well I saw that some bitch wearing flip flops and a tank top today. Go figure its going to be a warm one.

    • Nathan Place says:

      I saw the woolybear caterpillar wearing flip flops ant a tank top. Guess we are in for a warm winter sir.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Nathan, little weird to type those 23 min apart. Hmmmm……

    • SortingHat says:

      Chances are during the BIG global warming of 1,000 AD we more likely had a continuing blob that never went away causing the weather to keep re enforcing a loop.

  22. WEATHERDAN says:

    How about THE SON OF BLOB or THE BLOB STRIKES BACK? As far as writing this Winter off don’t. Some bloggers tried doing that to our Summer this year and look what happened. Warm and dry. I will wait and see. Peace.

  23. Boydo3 N. Albany says:

    Last winter was an El Nino winter with the blob in place and we managed to get at least some snow in the mtns. and an average rainfall down low. This winter should be similar with “maybe” a bit more snow in the mtns. but still warmer than average down low. That’s the prediction from the new old Boydo’s Almanac.
    You can get your online copy from

  24. Yup says:

    Surprise surprise, another garbage winter coming our way.

  25. I hate the phrase “It’s the new normal’, but what else can I say? I still think there could be one significant snow event in my area this winter (like 4 inches or so)but other than that, I don’t expect much different than the last few winters here. Blech!! 😦

  26. Jason Hougak says:

    I know how to kill the blob
    Install floating deep water ocean pumping platforms to pump deep cold ocean water to the surface. In a changing climate we are going to have to spend money to correct our mistakes.

    • Boring Oregon says:

      Or just take a bunch of ice and dump it out there. Or maybe just wait for it to go away? It’s gotta happen sometime.

  27. 46 overnight after a high of 70 yesterday. Coldest morning yet this season.

  28. Ellen Wallace says:

    I would love to see comparisons from various winters and the Blob. I know Mark had shown some info on Neutral times – was the Blob there? How about someone looking into this?

    • W7ENK says:

      The Blob is a new feature that just started developing two or three years ago. It had disappeared, but now it’s back again, apparently stronger than it ever was before…

  29. Garron 1/3 of a mile from Hillsboro Airport says:

    (SARCASM ALERT) I think Mark just got his forks out for this coming winter? lol I was hoping for just one epic snow day this year, oh well there’s always next winter. Maybe I won’t have to use the heat all winter long, and that would be a blessing!

  30. Paul D says:

    I’ll get the Justice League on it right away! They’ll obliterate the blob!!

  31. Mark Bergal says:

    More intense storms and if we get a pineapple express, flooding? Greater likelihood of a significant snowstorm if cold air gets banked up and pulls in copious moisture?

  32. Mark Bergal says:

    Maybe juicier storms and if we get a pineapple express, flooding. Should we get a good arctic outbreak, potential heavy snow from the moisture laden systems ?

  33. Certainly might be an interesting Winter weather meeting.

  34. geo says:


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