The Blob is Back! Will Winter Be Warmer?

Blob of North Atlantic


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It’s Back! The “Cold Atlantic Blob” is once again haunting the North Atlantic. It may sound like a Halloween headline, but it could be great news for your winter heating bill.

Scientists were puzzled last winter and spring when the North Atlantic was so cold last year when most of the ocean was hotter than normal. Then everything cooled back to normal this summer. Just when the scientists started to relax, it mysteriously returned.


Now you see it, now you don’t. The Blob in April and this September. Source: NOAA

It’s more than just a pretty blue blob. The colder water cools the air above it and changes air pressure and wind patterns. Back in April, weather services noticed the churning pattern and warned it could alter conditions enough to create an early, active Atlantic Hurricane Season. (We’ve had one.) They warned it might cause 14 hurricanes and tropical storms, two more than normal. With Hurricane Nicole hitting Bermuda, we just had storm number 14. It was fortunate it faded to almost nothing in September.


With Hurricane Nicole, we have had 14 tropical storms/hurricanes. Thanks, Blob! Source: NASA

But like a Halloween ghost it has been coming back this October. This may not be good for hurricanes, but it might be good news for your heating bill this winter.

Remember, I’m blogging here and your official winter forecast is done by The Old Farmer’s Almanac. As a weather watcher, I notice that history usually shows a warmer eastern winter in “blob” years. The Gulf Stream, that flow of hot water that crosses from our side of the ocean to Europe, frequently gets backed up. This leaves a lot of nice toasty water off our East Coast. Most years the warm ocean air heats the East up nicely. 


The warm Gulf Stream flowing off the East Coast. Source: NASA

This is history, not science. It doesn’t mean we will have a warmer winter, but it suggests we might. Wouldn’t that be great! Remember, even warmer winters have storms, but a few less days cleaning ice off the car windows and a lower heating bill would be nice. If it happens, you might have to thank a big, blue blob.


About This Blog

Evelyn Browning Garriss doesn't just blog about the weather forecast; she provides insight on WHY extreme weather is happening--and a heads up on weather to watch out for. A historical climatologist, Evelyn blogs about weather history, interesting facts about the weather, and upcoming climate events that affect your life--from farming to your grocery bill. Every week, we look forward to another great weather column from Evelyn. We encourage our weather watchers to post their comments and questions--and tell us what they think!

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Hi~ I'm from Toronto, Canada

Hi~ I'm from Toronto, Canada. Please explain why other forecasts are calling for below average temps and above average snowfall with Ontario being the worst. Conditions are supposed to be more severe later in the winter. Believe me, I'd much rather receive your forecasts as the future!...Sher

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