The mysterious warm-water “blob” in the Pacific Ocean has weakened a bit, NOAA scientists reported in mid-December.
Strong winds dominating the West Coast during much of November brought “cold air and some new upwelling of deep, cold water that weakened the warm patches that made up the blob,” said Nathan Mantua of NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center.
The blob’s above-normal ocean water temperatures dropped to within 0.5-1.5 degrees Celsius above average.
Scientists have hypothesized a link between the unusual warm-water expanse and climate change and/or the California drought.
Temperatures in the Pacific are now lower than for most of the past two years, according to Mantua.
“The one main exception to the blob’s decline is a narrow band of still-warm water along the coast from Southern California to San Francisco that remains about 3 degrees Celsius above normal for this time of year,” he said.
“But the band may also be an early signal of the arrival of El Niño-related ocean currents, which are expected to cause more warming along the Pacific Coast in the next few months.”
On another NOAA site, Climate.gov, blogger Emily Becker said on Dec. 10 that the 2015-2016 El Niño is likely to be among the three strongest since 1950.
“While the warmer-than-average ocean waters are likely reaching their peak about now, they will remain a huge source of warmth for the next several months to drive the main impacts on temperature and rain/snow over North America,” she wrote.
“The main impact season is December-March, so we’re just at the very beginning of finding out what this El Niño event will bring to the U.S.,” according to Becker. “There’s no doubt that El Niño 2015-2016, which has already shown its power around the world, will have a significant effect on the U.S. winter.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: December precipitation at Astoria-Warrenton Regional Airport — the official National Weather Service site closest to the Long Beach Peninsula — reached 20.53 inches in December 2015, setting a new all-time record for the month. The previous record was 20.38 inches in December 1996.