Influenza and the weather

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:14 PM GMT on May 04, 2009

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It is well known that influenza hits hardest in winter--November to March in the Northern Hemisphere, and May to September in the Southern Hemisphere. In fact, the name influenza comes from the Italian word influenza, meaning "influence"--referring to the "influence of the season" (winter) in causing the illness. In the tropics, where there is little change in seasons, influenza occurs year-round (though increased incidence has been noted in rainy seasons--Viboud et al., 2006). Do the cold temperatures and lower humidities of winter cause increased transmission of the flu virus? If so, why is the current H1N1 swine flu outbreak doing so well, now that it is May, traditionally the end of flu season in the Northern Hemisphere? Or could it be that indoor crowding, lack of sunlight lowering vitamin D levels, and a more depressed immune system in winter are largely responsible, as some researchers have suggested?

Flu infections increase under cold or dry conditions
To test these hypotheses, researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York did a study in 2007 that looked at flu transmission among guinea pigs, which are highly susceptible to human influenza and easily transmit the virus to other guinea pigs (Lowen et al., 2007). The animals were placed in adjacent cages, so that infections could occur by airborne transmission, but not by direct contact (guinea pig lovers will be happy to know that the influenza virus-infected guinea pigs did not display detectable symptoms of disease--weight loss, fever, sneezing, and coughing--during the experiments). By carefully controlling temperature and humidity, the scientists were able to study the effects of each. They found that the animals shed much more of the virus--and over a longer period of time--at cold temperatures, which led to increased infection rates. The animals' immune system showed no signs of stress from the cold weather, arguing against the idea that cold conditions lead to increased infections by lowering the immune system. Lower humidities were also found to increase flu transmission rate, though the variation of infection rate with humidity was more complicated. The scientists built a model (Figure 1) to fit the data, and proposed that lower humidity increased infection rates through two mechanisms:

1) The stability of influenza virons in the suspended aerosol particles infected creatures cough out is dependent upon the humidity. Viruses are most stable at low RH (20%-40%), least stable at intermediate RH (50%), and stable again at high RH (60%-80%) (Schaffer et al., 1976). Thus, the virus has better staying power at the low moisture levels typical of winter.

2) At high RH (80%), exhaled respiratory droplets grow quite large as water vapor condenses around them, and these drops quickly settle to the ground under the force of gravity. Thus, even though the virus is stable at high humidities, it settles out of the atmosphere quickly, and cannot contribute to influenza virus spread.


Figure 1. A model of influenza transmission rates at 68°F (20°C) (dashed line) and 41°F (5°C) (solid line), as a function of relative humidity. Transmission efficiency is highest at low relative humidity, when influenza virions in an aerosol are relatively stable, and exhaled respiratory droplets stay small and don't settle out under the force of gravity. Transmission is diminished at intermediate humidity when virus particles are relatively unstable, but improves in parallel with influenza virus stability at higher humidities. At high humidity, evaporation from exhaled particles is limited, respiratory droplets settle out of the air, and transmission is blocked. At cold temperatures (solid line), transmission is more efficient than at warm temperatures (dashed line), but is reduced to a rate of 50% at higher humidities. Image credit: Lowen, A.C., S. Mubareka, J. Steel, and P. Palese, 2007, "Influenza Virus Transmission Is Dependent on Relative Humidity and Temperature", PLos Pathogons, October 2007.

The researchers found no guinea pig infections at 86°F (30°C), which implies that in tropical climates, people may transmit the virus by direct contact rather than by coughing and sneezing. A second study Lowen et al., 2009) confirmed this idea--at least among guinea pigs. The authors concluded, "To our knowledge, we demonstrate for the first time that cold temperatures and low relative humidity are favorable to the spread of influenza virus. Although other factors likely contribute to the periodicity of influenza epidemics, it is clear that air temperature and RH could play an important role. Influenza virus transmission indoors could potentially be curtailed by simply maintaining room air at warm temperatures (>20 °C) and either intermediate (50%) or high (80%) RHs".

Climate change and influenza
The results of this study imply that global warming may significantly reduce influenza world-wide, since a warmer climate will also be more humid. Typically, there are between three and five million cases of severe flu and up to 500,000 deaths worldwide each year. In the United States alone, an average of 41,400 deaths and 1.68 million hospitalizations are attributed to influenza each year. A warmer world should reduce these numbers, if the current research is correct. However, these gains must be balanced against the possibility that malaria will become more widespread in a warmer world, since malaria kills about one million people per year.


Figure 2. Combined flu and pneumonia deaths in the United Kingdom during the great 1918 flu pandemic showed that the flu had three distinct peaks: one in June - July (a relatively mild form of the disease), followed by an extremely deadly outbreak in October, then another during the winter of 1918 - 1919. The 1918 flu pandemic infected 1/3 of the world's population, killing 50 - 100 million people. Strangely, the October peak occurred almost world-wide, with Bombay, India and Boston, Massachusetts peaking the same week. Image credit: Jordan, E., "Epidemic influenza: a survey", Chicago: American Medical Association, 1927.

Flu pandemics show little seasonality
The current Mexican H1N1 swine flu outbreak is seemingly unusual, since it is hitting at the end of the traditional flu season, in April - May. However, when a new flu strain develops that humans have no immunity to, the new strain is less constrained by seasonality. According to Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger, the virologist who helped isolate the genetic code of the virus responsible for the great 1918 flu pandemic, "Historical records since the 16th century suggest that new influenza pandemics may appear at any time of year, not necessarily in the familiar annual winter patterns of inter-pandemic years, presumably because newly shifted influenza viruses behave differently when they find a universal or highly susceptible human population." Indeed, the 1918 flu pandemic reached its peak in September - October (Figure 2), and the most recent flu pandemic, the 1968 Hong Kong flu, began in July. It wouldn't surprise me if the current flu outbreak dies down in the Northern Hemisphere over the summer months, as the combined effects of high temperatures, higher humidities, less indoor crowding, and increased sunlight interfere with its spread. However, we need to be ready for the virus to reappear in the Fall--potentially in a mutated, more virulent form--such as occurred during the 1918 flu pandemic.

References
Lowen, A.C., S. Mubareka, J. Steel, and P. Palese, 2007, "Influenza Virus Transmission Is Dependent on Relative Humidity and Temperature", PLos Pathogons, October 2007.

Lowen, A.C., S. Mubareka, J. Steel, and P. Palese, 2009, "High Temperature (30°C) Blocks Aerosol but Not Contact Transmission of Influenza Virus", Journal of Virology, June 2008, p. 5650-5652, Vol. 82, No. 11 0022-538X/08/$08.00+0 doi:10.1128/JVI.00325-08

Schaffer, F.L., M.E. Soergel, and D.C. Straube, 1976, "Survival of airborne influenza virus: effects of propagating host, relative humidity, and composition of spray fluids", Arch Virol 51: 263-273.

Viboud, C, W.J. Alonso, and L. Simonsen, 2006, "Influenza in tropical regions", PLoS Med 3: e89 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030089.

Vitamin D and influenza links:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/51913.ph p
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/0808 11195629.htm
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/science/research/v itamin-d-and-influenza.shtml

Jeff Masters

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CDL, I love the new avatar pic. Having the family in the reflection of your glasses is is just perfect.
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KUJIRA,Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery at CIMSS (MIMIC)
Version 1
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting CatastrophicDL:
Guys, I've posted some more pics of my recent adventures. Saturday's petroglyphs are posted as well as yesterday's trip to some spectacular pueblos and early 16th century franciscan missions. Any one interested in seeing today's ghost town pics?


Thanks Cata..the ancient world pics are cool, thanks for sharing!
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291. Skyepony (Mod)
Sun is rising on Kujira. Looks like the eyewall collapsed.

UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 7.2.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 04 MAY 2009 Time : 233000 UTC
Lat : 17:30:45 N Lon : 132:31:40 E


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
5.9 / 931.8mb/112.4kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
(3hr avg)
5.2 5.2 3.7

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +2.0mb

Center Temp : -72.4C Cloud Region Temp : -76.2C

Scene Type : UNIFORM CDO CLOUD REGION

Positioning Method : SPIRAL ANALYSIS

Ocean Basin : WEST PACIFIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : PACIFIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 0.7T/6hr
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

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Quoting hurristat:


I have a feeling that in Michigan, I am pretty safe from hurricanes...


Lol. I hope so. Although Ike did visit as far inland as Ohio.
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
Quoting homelesswanderer:
Hi Everyone. Found this kind of interesting.
How often does your area get brushed by a tropical sysytem?
How often do you take a direct hit from a hurricane?
Who's over due?
And are you next?
Apparently my area is NOT over due. All it says is we got hit in 2008. LOL.

Link


I have a feeling that in Michigan, I am pretty safe from hurricanes...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi Everyone. Found this kind of interesting.
How often does your area get brushed by a tropical sysytem?
How often do you take a direct hit from a hurricane?
Who's over due?
And are you next?
Apparently my area is NOT over due. All it says is we got hit in 2008. LOL.

Link
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
Guys, I've posted some more pics of my recent adventures. Saturday's petroglyphs are posted as well as yesterday's trip to some spectacular pueblos and early 16th century franciscan missions. Any one interested in seeing today's ghost town pics?
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Evening all

Just on a quick flyby. Had a nasty storm roll through here earlier and will post a few lightning pics later.

On another note, Portlight has had several calls in the past few days from people who lived in rural areas and lost there homes during the Myrtle Beach Wildfires. These families were referred to Portlight by the Red Cross which seems to inherently validate the the Portlight mission statement. Many thanks to the Red Cross for connecting us with these rural families who have lost everything.
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T-6 Days 18 hours to the Launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24457
Hey everyone how's it been going?
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When are we getting rain!!!
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Quoting Beachfoxx:
KEH,

Another....

Ring around the rosy,
A pocketful of posies.
ashes, ashes.
We all fall down!.

I believe this one came from the Bubonic Plaque in England... We sang many variations.
In fact, many nursery rhymes have "hidden meanings".

As a child, we had no idea that both of these rhymes had "hidden meanings".


Unlike yourself... when I was young, they had already invented TV:)

Hmm now where is that desk to hide under???
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Service was an Honor and a Privilege,..thanks for the words.

Semper Fi.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
And thank you for you service PAT... I honor everyone who has spent any amount of their life serving the U.S. and every freedom loving person in it. Thank you!
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
Always nice to make an Air-Show..they fun and the Troops like it as much as the civilians.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting naplesdreamer28:
JFV/PresidentialElection is coming!!!


Get the Popcorn!
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PAT that is too cool! Maybe just Maybe they will have the photo-op jet there for us to take pics in... Air Show at Barksdale AFB in Bossier City/Shreveport area... It is a long drive but worth the haul to see.
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
Im a Ol' USMC Air Winger,..and before 911,one could fanagle just about anyone with a a few words like ,How ya doing brother?

That was a Old B.A.F-4 Cockpit used only for Photo Ops..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
ya i just found that item found it very interesting lets hope he's successful in he's work
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
HEY PAT!

How did you guys get to take pics from cockpit of Blue Angels? I have seen their show before and am going to see them this weekend but I have never had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit. To cool! I just realized that your avator was blue angels...lol
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
261. KEEPEROFTHEGATE 7:07 PM AST on May 04, 2009

troubling indeed
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
JFV/PresidentialElection is coming!!!
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antonio28

no one said you are a troll
and the blog is for all that wishes to summit or read the information and from all the information thats presented one can come up with a reasonable forecast for any one outcome to any single event
the charge is to be as accurate as possible with claims that you make in forecasting that outcome

and as always should listen to official info from NHC for life and death decisions
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827

Lets review now the Tropical Page.

Computer model forecasts

* Basics of hurricane forecast models (Dr. Jeff Masters, wunderground.com, updated 2007)
* Description of computer models used for hurricane forecasts (NHC, updated 2007)
* Description of computer models used for hurricane forecasts (NOAA/AOML)
* GFS model, Atlantic (wunderground)
* GFS model, Atlantic (NCEP)
* NOGAPS model, Atlantic (Navy)
* Canadian (GEM) model
* ECMWF model, North America
* Multi-model track and intensity guidance (CSU)
* Multi-model track and intensity guidance (Dr. Kerry Emanuel, MIT)
* Cyclogenesis tracking page (NOAA/NCEP)
* CIRA's experimental tropical cyclone formation products
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting Patrap:
Thats a Whale of a comment,LOL


Thank you :)
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Thats a Whale of a comment,LOL

"Vary " re-REFRESHING" ya might say too..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting TampaSpin:
Drak,,,,,,i like DArkoen and Petrap also.......ROFLMAO


Hmm for some reason.. the words Pot, Kettle and Black come to mind :)
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Time for dinner and the RAys...everyone have fun and GO RAYS!
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Blog Refresh
Mirror Site

Daily Area of Interest
Click to enlarge
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Keep on Blogging in the Free World..

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting antonio28:
LOL, sorry for typiying I am Puertorican. And I know I am a troll. So I will be in watching mode not wishcasting. I let those for the experts. BTW what is the latest forescast for this season?


Its all good.....Glad you dropped in .....Just having some fun with some friends...It's ok...
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Quoting Patrap:
There isnt any race.

Calamity will find a mark,somewhere this season.

Never any Humor in Calamity,..ever,..

...cept from those who have never lived it,touched it,nor smelled it.

That's usually the case here as well.


Pat it was a poke at all the little wishcasters we have around here... trust me I have lived plenty of calamity from hurricanes... I don't think I need to qualify myself on that but I can. :)
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
Caribbean at risk of tsunami
April 23rd, 2009

Up to 30,000 residents and tourists could be under threat from a newly discovered tsunami risk in the Caribbean, according to experts in disaster risk management.

The heavily populated coast of Guadeloupe will have little warning if a tsunami is triggered by the collapse of a volcano on the nearby island of Dominica.

A team of geologists, led by Dr Richard Teeuw from the University of Portsmouth, have discovered that a flank of the volcano Morne aux Diables ("Devils' Peak") shows signs of collapse and if so, a million-ton chunk of rock could crash into the sea, producing tsunami waves up to almost 3 metres (10 feet) high.

Such a rock fall could also weaken three million tones of rock upslope, potentially resulting in much larger landslides and waves of up to five metres.

Dr Teeuw said: “It’s not a case of if this landslide and tsunami will happen, but when. The trigger will probably be a major earthquake, occurring after the heavy rain and coastal erosion of the hurricane season. It could happen in a hundred years or it could happen next week.

“Guadeloupe is a densely populated island with popular tourist beaches, many of which are wide with low angle gradients, which leads to ‘tsunami run-up’ and increased wave heights. In places, there is no protection from coral reef which otherwise might absorb some of the tsunami wave energy.

“There would be damage to property and if people were on the beach then there could be loss of life. This part of the world is well-prepared for hurricane hazards, but is relatively unprepared for the rapid impact of a tsunami.”

The vulnerable area of rock was left exposed several thousand years ago when the flank of the volcano collapsed into the sea. Dr Teeuw will study the seabed for evidence of an ancient tsunami next year. Since the original collapse, coastal erosion has undercut cliffs along the over-steepened margin of the volcano, leaving the remaining flank of the volcano unstable.

Dr Teeuw and colleagues made their discovery after carrying out geomorphological surveys backed up by 3-D images from Google Earth which show clearly visible tension cracks. The results convinced them that they were looking at a serious landslide and tsunami hazard.

The Guadeloupe archipelago is about 50 kilometres north of Dominica and tsunami waves would hit its shores within minutes of the volcano’s collapse, giving little chance to warn people on the coast.

The island of Dominica has the highest concentrations of potentially active volcanoes in the world. The area is regularly exposed to hurricanes and occasional severe seismic activity.

Dr Teeuw and his team of students and geoscientists will return to Dominica this summer, part-funded by the Royal Geographical Society, for further geomorphological surveys, to better understand the probable size of the various landslide zones on the flanks of Morne aux Diable.

A further survey is planned for 2010, when the seafloor along the margin of the volcano will be examined, allowing better estimates of the likely tsunami hazard. Examining the age of the sediment on the seabed will also help to determine when past coastal landslides occurred.

Dr Teeuw said: “The earthquake associated with the ancient flank-collapse of Morne aux Diables volcano was probably much larger than any experienced around Dominica in historical times. If so, that has serious implications, raising the possibility of rare, but catastrophic, tsunami waves in the Caribbean region.”

Dr Teeuw wants to raise awareness about potential tsunami hazards to emergency planners, disaster managers and the people of Guadeloupe and Dominica to help reduce their vulnerability and the risk of disaster.

He made the discovery while supervising student research projects around Morne aux Diables volcano and his work, published in the newsletter of the American Geophysical Union (Eos, 90 (10), 81-82).


Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Origination point map, but it doesn't have May in it :( But I pick the BOC as the first spot or perhaps over Lake Okeechobee ha!:)

Link
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
LOL, sorry for typiying I am Puertorican. And I know I am a troll. So I will be in watching mode not wishcasting. I let those for the experts. BTW what is the latest forescast for this season?
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Quoting Patrap:
There isnt any race.

Calamity will find a mark,somewhere this season.

Never any Humor in Calamity,..ever,..

...cept from those who have never lived it,touched it,nor smelled it.

That's usually the case here as well.


Pat you really might want to consider that name change.....LMAO....just kidding!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
There isnt any race.

Calamity will find a mark,somewhere this season.

Never any Humor in Calamity,..ever,..

...cept from those who have never lived it,touched it,nor smelled it.

That's usually the case here as well.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Drak,,,,,,i like DArkoen and Petrap also.......ROFLMAO
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and the race is on... who can wishcast the most storms to where they live...lolz
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
laughs uncontrolled at random comments that people butcher
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
let the games begin
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Quoting antonio28:
2009 Huricane season apprach and is good news that the veteran bloguer are already here in this public free weather center!

Looking foward from to heard the forrescast of Darkoen, Petrap, futuremet, storm W and many others.

If you live in Huricane threaded areas aka the caribbean, Mexico, the GOM and the atlatic US coast states stay tunned to this blog untill November 30, 2009.


I'm looking forward to informing you as Drakoen lol.
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2009 Huricane season apprach and is good news that the veteran bloguer are already here in this public free weather center!

Looking foward from to heard the forrescast of Darkoen, Petrap, futuremet, storm W and many others.

If you live in Huricane threaded areas aka the caribbean, Mexico, the GOM and the atlatic US coast states stay tunned to this blog untill November 30, 2009.
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ESL By LSU
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Hurricanes and Possible Intensity Increases: Effects on and Reactions from U.S. Agriculture

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics

Hurricanes have caused substantial damage in parts of the U.S. Damages are increasing, perhaps as part of a natural cycle or perhaps in part related to global warming. This paper examines the economic damages that hurricanes cause to U.S. agriculture, estimates the increased damage from an increase in hurricane frequency/intensity, and examines the way that sectoral reactions reduce damages. The simulation results show that hurricanes and associated adjustments cause widespread damage and redistribute agricultural welfare. We find that crop mix shifts of vulnerable crops from stricken to nonstricken regions significantly mitigate hurricane damages.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
hahaguy and futuremet,

Oh I see.

The last time I was here was last summer because I wanted to focus on my last year in university but when I left he was (and I still think he is) an alright fella. I don't know why he did it but that comes as a surprise.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
I just completed a test run of my new Blog format for the upcoming season. I have condensed Graphics on the blog to a minimum for easier loading as i only posted the limited Graphics needed for anaylyis. Other Graphics will be posted and taken away as needed for easy loading. Many have asked for this and hopefully for those of you that visit will like the format outlined.

http://tampaspinsweather.webs.com/

Got to the Blog to see the format!
Thanks!
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Quoting Weather456:
I don't get it? Why all the hostility about JFV and why did he change his handle. I just found out the other day that PE was not a new person but JFV.


He's been sending a lot people threatening messages and likes to make people mad.
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Quoting atmoaggie:


If admin wanted to have a bit of fun, they could un-ban it, but change the password. That way the banned one could see everyone talking to him, but not be able to actually log in and reply.

He would pull out hair over that.



HAHAHAHA! that would be too funny!
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
Making MODUs safer in hurricanes

How a JIP helped strengthen the moorings on Gulf of Mexico rigs

The 12 semisubmersible mobile offshore drilling units that went adrift during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 caused neither pollution damage nor loss of life, but did blow a hole in industry’s comfort with existing MODU mooring criteria. It was not the first time a MODU had gone adrift in a storm, but it was the first widespread recognition that the consequences of mooring failure had changed.

A Joint Industry Project (JIP) on MODU Mooring Strength and Reliability, formed in response to the losses, has revolutionized industry understanding of Gulf weather, rig behavior, and development of mooring criteria. The results of that work, incorporated into new mooring criteria, will be presented at OTC 2009 in its first-ever conference session devoted entirely to the topic.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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