Fighting out of the Red Corner The Blob, Blooooob.
And fighting out of the Blue Corner El Nino, El Niiiiinooo.
The referee is RRR, Ridiculously Resilient Ridge. TriiipleR RRR
Ocean monsters gearing up for the fight of the decade. Californians get to watch the fight of the decade, Blob versus El Niño, free of charge. The Blob brought the drought that is now in its fourth year. El Niño has been conspicuously absent for the same time. But now it looks like California can expect a monster El Niño in 2015 and early 2016.
The exceptional drought conditions in California have entered a fourth year. The earth is parched, water reserves are at their lowest in decades. Average temperature exceed previous records more and more often. There can be no doubt that our weather is getting warmer on average. How long will it last? What is causing these unusual weather patterns?
The answer to these questions depended for a long time on who answered it. Ultra conservatives say that global warming is a myth. Just ask the ‘Pigman’ from Florida or the Koch Brothers. Leftist lay blame at the feet of big bad capitalists and their reckless production of industrial goods. New Age type dreamers conjure up images of wicked mankind insulting Mother Earth with negative thoughts, actions and vibes.
They are all wrong. Scientists from NOAA and meteorologists disagree. They claim to know the real causes of our strange weather patterns. In late summer of 2013 they observed a patch of warm ocean surface water that stretched from the Mexican border to Oregon, Washington and close to Alaskan waters. Water temperature in this nearly circular patch were between 1 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal. Because of its circular pattern Nicholas Bond, State Climatologist for Washington, named it “The Blob”. The name stuck.
The Blob in February 2014 (NOOA)
The Blob is still with us. It even grew stronger, much stronger.
In summertime the temperature of ocean surface water increases because of longer exposure to direct sunlight. The warming of the surface water is limited by wave action and the cooling effect of the wind on churning waters. Since 2013 the northwestern Pacific has been unusually calm. Less wind means reduced cooling of surface water. As a result water temperatures rise.
Driven by increasing water temperatures the Blob began to change its shape. It started to expand along the California coast extending a ‘finger’ along the entire west coast of North America from Mexico to Alaska. Water temperatures increased to between 1 and over 7 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Blob in March 2015 after expansion (NOOA)
High pressure began to build over the stationary warm ocean surface water. This high pressure area has been with us since at least 2013. Cold northeasterly storms bring cooling, rain and snow to our state. The Blob keeps the much-needed winter storms to the north and diverts them eastwards towards the east coast. Look at the following picture taken from space. It clearly shows the clear sky over the Blob and the Ridge.
The Ridge over the West Coast (theconversations.com)
Little rain or snow in California and much, too much, rain and snowfall in the northeast of the United States and the southeast. Anyone watching the news or reading a newspaper has heard about it and seen the pictures. If you do not, ask someone for confirmation who had to dig out of six feet of snow.
The Bob is responsible for the high pressure over its territory. The high pressure area is the culprit when it comes to the long dry spell in California.
Daniel Swain, a forecaster at the California Weather Blog, coined the term ‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’ (RRR) for the stationary high pressure area over the Blob. RRR or TripleR will stay with us as long as the Blob gives it life.
RRR or Triple R and how it works (courtesy of Geoea.com)
The current Pacific Blob is not unique. There have been blobs before, in the northern Pacific and elsewhere. At times the Atlantic has a blob or two.
The following image depicts how the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge deflects cold air from the arctic (blue areas) away from the western states (Washington, Oregon, California) towards the low over the eastern and southeastern United States.
As long as the Blob remains stationary in its current position this high pressure ridge will bring us unusually warm and dry weather. It will deepen the drought.
How do we get relief from this weather pattern and the drought?
I will address this question in Part II of my article. It is due Tuesday next week.
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