A “blob” of warm water in the Pacific Ocean stretching 1,000 miles from Mexico to Alaska may be to blame for the West Coast drought and the snowstorms that slammed the East Coast.
A new study attempts to explain the weird weather we’ve gotten so far in 2015, and scientists are suggesting that a long, skinny blob in the Pacific Ocean is the true culprit since the fall of 2013, according to a Christian Science Monitor report.
Scientists first started to notice the large mass of water that didn’t cool off like it is supposed to in late 2013 and early 2014. In the spring of 2014, this mass of water war warmer than ever, said Nick Bond, a climate scientist at the University of Washington and a study co-author.
The blob is about 2 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the temperature that is usual for that region, which means that winter air that crosses the Pacific isn’t cooled as much, resulting in warmer weather that has led to dry spells in the West Coast.
Bond had noticed that Washington state had experienced a particularly mild winter and attempted to find out why. By June 2014, the warm patch was about 1,000 miles long and extended 300 feet below the surface of the water.
The blob has persisted and become even longer and skinnier, making it less of a blob and more of a “finger” of water. The study, which was published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, states that a high-pressure ridge above the Pacific Ocean has been parked there over the past two winters, resulting in calmer seas, which has prevented the transfer of heat to the cold air above, keeping the ocean warmer.
This has resulted in less snow for California, Oregon, and Washington, which has further resulted in drought conditions that are currently ravaging those regions. Furthermore, it has sent cold, wet air into the Midwestern and East Coast states, resulting in a series of snowstorms.