'Son of the blob': Unseasonably warm weather creating new anomaly off B.C. coast

A meteorologist says unseasonably warm weather in B.C. is once again causing a large area of the Pacific Ocean to heat up considerably, emulating a phenomenon from past years known as the “blob.”

'It just begs the question of how much of this is linked to climate change'

This Oct. 17, 2018 image from Environment and Climate Change Canada shows anomalies in sea surface temperature. Yellow, orange and red areas, like the large patch off the B.C. coast, are warmer than normal. (weather.gc.ca)

The blob is back.

A meteorologist says unseasonable conditions in B.C. are likely once again causing a large area of the Pacific Ocean to heat up, emulating a phenomenon from past years called the "blob."

That mass of warm water was blamed for warmer weather on land, poor feeding conditions for salmon and even dead whales.

Now, Armel Castellan with Environment and Climate Change Canada says it appears a warm-water patch dubbed the "son of the blob" is establishing itself off B.C.'s coast.

"To see a blob sort of establish itself at this time of year is sort of surprising," Castellan said. "It's a symptom of the enduring or stagnant weather we've been having over the last four years."

Unusual, summer-like conditions in northern and central B.C. is being blamed for "concerning" droughts in vast swaths of the province. Castellan said this newest emergence of a blob in the Pacific Ocean is likely connected to the patterns causing these droughts.

Climate change connection

Castellan says that the conditions to form a blob occur when weather systems are largely stable and unchanging. A lack of wind and precipitation over the ocean means water does not mix very well, so water near the surface warms up, stays put and stays warm because it can't mix with deeper, cooler water.

The effects of the blob or the "son of the blob" aren't fully understood, he said, but other scientists have blamed it for numerous environmental irregularities.

There might be some relief on the horizon, however. Castellan said storms should begin as early as Tuesday of next week and cause the water to start mixing.

It's not clear, however, how long the storms will last or how great an impact they will make.

Castellan added that the warm patches of water are becoming "routine or fairly common."

"It's definitely something we're starting to see with these resilient ridges," he said. 

"It just begs the question of how much of this is linked to climate change."

With files from CBC Radio One's Daybreak North