Posts Tagged La nina

Sep 14 2016

‘Son of Blob’ springs to life in the Pacific

Satellite monitoring on Sept. 10 found a huge area of much warmer than normal surface temperatures in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.

NOAA GRAPHIC – Satellite monitoring on Sept. 10 found a huge area of much warmer than normal surface temperatures in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.


LONG BEACH — The Blob, a news-making patch of unusually warm ocean surface water from late-2013 through autumn 2015, was reborn this month.

The ocean warmed quickly. As recently as July, “The northeast Pacific off our coast was slightly above normal, but nothing exceptional,” University of Washington meteorologist Cliff Mass noted Sunday on his popular blog.

By Sept. 10, some limited areas of the nearby Pacific were 5.4 to 7.2 degrees F above normal, Mass noted, while satellite monitoring shows an enormous zone of overall warmth extending west from the coasts of Washington and Oregon, north to Alaska.

News about the birth of this “Son of Blob” comes just as climate experts have officially declared this will not be a La Niña winter. The flip side of more-famous El Niño conditions that influenced the winter of 2015-16, La Niña is a pattern of unusually cold surface waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It tends to result in wetter and cooler winter conditions here in the Pacific Northwest.

On Sept. 22, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue its new 30- and 90-day long-range forecasts, and will try to determine how the Son of Blob will influence our weather in a winter with neutral El Niño/La Niña conditions. The short-term forecast for this week is for warm and generally pleasant late-summer weather on the coast, but critical fire weather conditions for parts of the interior.


The original Blob


A result of a persistent zone of high atmospheric pressure in our part of the Pacific, the original Blob created “highly unusual weather,” according to Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond.

Ocean conditions made their way onto dry land in the form of drought and record temperatures — “2015 was by far the warmest year we’ve had in the Cascades” and “Oct. 1, 2014 through September 2015 [was a time of] record warmth in much of the Northwest,” Bond said at the 2016 Pacific County Marine Science Conference in Long Beach on May 21. Widespread forest fires and possibly the largest documented seabird mortality event in world history were linked to the 2013-15 Blob.

Mass said Sunday that experimental modeling he conducted found a modest 1 to 2 degrees F increase in land temperatures from the Blob. But even that amount of additional warmth can have a noticeable impact on snowpack and other terrestrial conditions in the Pacific Northwest.

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Apr 15 2016

NOAA issues La Niña watch as tropical Pacific temperatures tank

La Niña is El Niño’s cooler counterpart. It seems likely to arrive this fall. (NOAA)

El Niño is quickly fading. Sea surface temperatures are coming down in the tropical Pacific, and winds in the region have weakened. History tells us, and forecast models predict, that La Niña conditions will be quick on its heels.

Seeing the writing on the wall, NOAA issued a La Niña watch on Thursday. “Nearly all models predict further weakening of El Niño, with a transition to ENSO-neutral likely during late spring or early summer 2016,” NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center wrote. “Nearly all models predict further weakening of El Niño, with a transition to ENSO-neutral likely during late spring or early summer 2016. Then, the chance of La Niña increases during the late summer or early fall.”

La Niña is El Niño’s cooler counterpart in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Whereas El Niño exhibits abnormally warm ocean temperatures and a strong atmospheric circulation across the equator, La Niña represents abnormally cold water. The cooler sea surface temperature pattern enhances the circulation in the tropics, called the Walker circulation.

The Walker circulation tends to dominate the weather across the equatorial Pacific. Air flows west toward Indonesia, where water is typically the warmest, and rises. This creates lots of thunderstorms and rain. During El Niño, this circulation is disrupted. The warmest water sloshes to the eastern side of the Pacific near South America. Air ends up rising closer to South America, and it sinks over Indonesia.

Air flow patterns during El Nino and La Nina. (

La Niña is the exact opposite. It sends the circulation into overdrive.

“During La Niña events … when waters in the western Pacific are even warmer than normal and waters in the eastern Pacific are even colder, it is like someone turned the normal Walker Circulation ‘up to 11,’” writes’s Tom Di Liberto. “Warm, moist air rises even more over the Maritime Continent and South America leading to above-average rainfall. In the eastern Pacific, where colder than average waters exist, an enhanced downward branch of the Walker Circulation helps to further reduce the region’s already small rainfall totals.”

(Columbia University/IRI)

(Columbia University/IRI)

In its forecast, Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society has increased the likelihood of La Niña to 65 percent by early fall, and a 70 percent chance by next winter. This is up from 50 percent last month.

NOAA will “declare” a La Niña when temperatures across the eastern side of the Pacific have cooled to a temperature departure of 0.5 degrees Celsius below normal, and when the Walker circulation strengthens like we would expect it to during a true La Niña.

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Mar 7 2016

S. California Fisheries Hit Hard By Warming Water

Squid have pretty much disappeared from Southern California in the last several months.

“Squid’s kind of our bread and butter. That’s what a lot of us make our payments and survive on,” said Corbin Hanson who fishes off the coast of Southern California.

”It’s extremely frustrating. It’s demoralizing to go out and not be able to catch anything,” Hanson said.

Hanson has not caught any squid for more than four months. Squid is one of California’s largest commercial fisheries, and much of it is exported to countries in Asia and the Mediterranean.

Oceanographer Andrew Leising with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries said unusually warm water is causing squid and other fish to move farther north. At a meeting at the Aquarium of the Pacific, scientists explained one cause of the warming waters is what they call “the blob.”

“During the, say, 30-year record, this event “the blob” stands out far beyond anything we’ve seen in that 30 years. And in terms of that total warmth of the water, it’s pretty much the warmest we’ve ever measured and over an extremely large volume of water,” Leising said.

At its warmest, “the blob” is 4 degrees Celsius above normal temperatures. While “the blob” warms the water’s surface layers, another weather phenomenon called “El Niño” is warming the deeper waters.

“We’re looking at a situation where we have two years of the blob warming the water. Now we’re going into El Niño warming the water, so we really have about three years solid of kind of these warm conditions that have been affecting the fisheries,” Leising said.

Oceanographers said while “the blob” is mostly gone, they don’t know if it will return. The National Weather Service’s Mark Jackson said there is a promising forecast for warm waters caused by El Niño.

“Those waters will cool through the summer, and it looks right now a very distinct possibility that we could be in a La Niña situation next winter,” Jackson added. “That’s where the waters in the eastern and central Pacific will actually cool below normal.”

Cooler waters next winter also mean good news for Corbin Hanson and his crew, but until then, they have to be frugal.

“There’s hardly anything spent on new equipment, new gear. We’re trying to get by and stop the bleeding this year,” he said.

Scientists said if there is a La Niña next winter, squid and other fish should return to Southern California.

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Dec 5 2012

Squid fishermen wrap up another banner year

HALF MOON BAY — It’s a great time to be a calamari lover.

California fishermen have capitalized on favorable ocean conditions with a historic three-year haul of market squid, whose cylindrical bodies are most recognizable in appetizer form: sliced, breaded and deep-fried. These small squid make up the state’s largest fishery by both weight and value, having brought in roughly $68.5 million in 2011.

Fishermen netted a record-breaking 133,642 tons of the cephalopods during the 2010-11 season, then topped that mark the following year with 134,910 tons, according to the California Department of Fish and Game. This season’s catch was also robust, though it is expected to fall a bit short of those staggering totals.

More than 80 percent of the state’s market squid are typically caught in Southern California around the Channel Islands, and most of the rest are netted in Monterey Bay. But this year brought unprecedented fishing activity to the San Mateo County coast, said Mike McHenry, one of only a couple of people who fish squid out of Pillar Point Harbor north of Half Moon Bay.

“This is by far the biggest season we’ve ever seen up in this country,”

Read the full article here.