A warmer winter with less snow could be on the horizon due to a warm patch of ocean water off the Northwest coast. (Black Press Media photo)

Warm-water “blob” returns to northeast Pacific

A 2,000 km 2 patch of warm ocean water could signal a warmer winter

The “blob” has returned, and it could bring an unusually warm winter.

Located in the northeast Pacific, just offshore from northern B.C. and the southern Gulf of Alaska, the “blob” is a roughly 2,000 km2 area of unseasonably warm water.

Nicholas Bond, a climatologist at the University of Washington, coined the term after detecting the circle-shaped area in 2014.

“If you were in a fishing boat in that area and you put your hand in the water you’d still think it was cold, but it would actually be two to three degrees warmer than it should be for that time of year,” said Armel Castellan, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Castellan said water in the area has been warming for a few months, and was detected by satellites earlier this summer.

Castellan added that a weak El Niño is also moving into the area, and the combination of the two high-energy systems could result in warm temperatures persisting in across the inland northwest, with higher levels of freezing and less snow.

Castellan noted that Green Island — which is just off the coast of Dundas Island — received 50 per cent less precipitation from April to September than it did in 2017.

“You’ve stacked the cards in the deck that we’re going to have a warmer season coming up here,” he said.

First spotted by satellites in 2014, the blob’s first appearance lasted until 2015. It reappeared in September 2016 before dissipating again and has not been seen again until the summer of 2018.

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