Good-bye La Nina


The Gulf of Alaska is hot/NOAA graphic

Put the skis back in the closest and forget winterizing the bike for now.

In case Hillary and Donald yelling at each other made you miss the biggest news in Alaska this month, here it is:

“La Nina watch dropped.”

La Nina – El Nino’s lovely or evil twin, depending on how much you like snow and cold – was supposed to bring a real winter back to coastal Alaska this year after a couple seasons of Seattle north, which is even darker and grimmer than Seattle south.

Didn’t happen.

“The chances of La Niña this fall were 75 percent in June, but they fell to around 55-60 percent in July, and again in August to 40 percent,” Climate.gov reports. “Sea surface temperatures were cooling, but the pace of cooling has slowed. ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation) conditions are likely to remain neutral through fall. Forecasters have dropped the La Niña watch.”

Neutral conditions aren’t exactly neutral for Alaska, however, because the state is in a lot of hot water. Well, not exactly in it, but next to it as you can see in the NOAA graphic above.

“The Blob,” a pool of hot water that was thought to have died in the Gulf of Alaska last winter, apparently just submerged like a big, angry whale only to surface again this fall. “The Blob,” at this moment, is having a lot more affect on Alaska than global warming. The warm water is moderating climate all across the state.

Barrow set a record on Monday. The 44 degree high there marked the warmest October day seen in the country’s northernmost city since the first records were kept in 1920. The norm for this time of year is 25 degrees, and the blue, frozen artificial turf of the home field for the Barrow Whalers football team is usually buried under snow.

It was forecast to be warmer and nicer in Barrow today than in Billings, Mont., where a snowstorm was rolling in.

La Nina was supposed to bring some sanity back to this picture. La Nina was supposed to send cooler waters from the deep ocean swirling north along the West Coast of North America to swarm into the Gulf of Alaska and crush “The Blob.”

That scenario is now out the window, but stay tuned. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is promising a new La Nina/El Nino assessment on Thursday.

Meanwhile, for those wishing to get scared silly about what all of this means, National Geographic has recently posted as story on “The Blob That Cooked The Pacific.” Think steamed sea lions, boiled whales, overcooked jellyfish and other horror stories.



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