El Niño is done; Haiti at risk of heavy rains next week; oil spill update

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:09 PM GMT on May 19, 2010

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El Niño rapidly weakened during late April and early May, with sea surface temperatures over the tropical Eastern Pacific in the area 5°N - 5°S, 120°W - 170°W, also called the "Niña 3.4 region", falling a significant 0.65°C in just one month. Temperatures in the region are now in the "neutral" range, just 0.18°C above average, and well below the 0.5°C threshold to be considered an El Niño, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The speed of the collapse of El Niño makes it likely that a La Niña event is on its way this summer. This is what happened during the last strong El Niño event, in 1998--El Niño collapsed dramatically in May, and a strong La Niña event developed by hurricane season. Six of the sixteen El Niño models (updated as of April 15) are predicting La Niña conditions for hurricane season, and I expect more models will jump on the La Niña bandwagon when the May data updates later this week. The demise of El Niño, coupled with sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic that are currently at record levels, have prompted two major hurricane forecasting groups (tropicalstormrisk.com and Colorado State University) to predict a significantly above average 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. Over the full 160-year period we have records of Atlantic hurricanes, La Niña years have typically had more hurricanes, and more strong hurricanes, compared to neutral years. However, since 1995, there hasn't been any difference between neutral and La Niña years in terms of hurricane activity. La Niña conditions typically cause cool and wet conditions over the Caribbean in summer, but do not have much of an impact on U.S. temperatures or precipitation.


Figure 1. Oil spill edge over the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, May 19, as seen from NASA's M ODIS instrument. Note that a band of cumulus clouds formed along the edge of the oil spill. I theorize this is because the low level wind flow out of the southeast moves faster over the oil, since the oil suppresses wave action. As the winds cross the spill boundary into rougher, clean water, they slow down, forcing the air to pile up and create updrafts that then spawn cumulus clouds. See my post on what oil might do to a hurricane for more information on how oil reduces wave action.

Oil spill update
Clouds over the Gulf of Mexico have again foiled satellite imaging of the extent of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, though through breaks in the clouds it appears that a significant amount of the oil that was pulled southwards towards the Loop Current is now caught in a counter-clockwise rotating eddy just to the north of the Loop Current. However, some oil has escaped this eddy and is on its way south towards the Florida Keys. According to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA, the tongue of oil flowing southwards has at most "light" concentrations. The oil will grow more dilute as it travels the 500 miles to the Florida Keys. My present expectation is that the oil entering the Loop Current this week will cause only minor problems in the Keys next week. However, there is a lot of uncertainty about what the oil may do to the fragile Keys ecosystem. See my post yesterday for answers to many of the common questions I get about the spill.

Oil spill resources
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
NOAA trajectory forecasts
Deepwater Horizon Unified Command web site
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Surface current forecasts from NOAA's HYCOM model
HYCOM ocean current forecasts from LSU


Figure 2. Precipitation forecast from today's 8am EDT run of the NAVY NOGAPS model, valid 7 days from now. Precipitation amounts in excess of 70 mm (2.8") in 12 hours are predicted over Haiti, due to a tropical disturbance in the Western Caribbean. Image credit: U.S. Navy.

Potential serious rainfall threat to Haiti next week
Long-range forecasts from the GFS and NOGAPS models over the past few days have consistently been predicting an increase in moisture and decrease in wind shear over the Western Caribbean 5 - 7 days from now, and I expect that a tropical disturbance with heavy rains will develop in the Western Caribbean early next week. A strong subtropical jet stream over the southern Gulf of Mexico will steer the disturbance to the north and east, and the NOGAPS model shows heavy rains in excess of six inches impacting Haiti Wednesday through Thursday of next week. Rains of this magnitude are capable of causing a serious emergency with high loss of life in earthquake-shattered Haiti, and all interests in that nation should closely monitor the situation over the coming week. It is too early to speculate on the possibility of the disturbance becoming a tropical depression. The wunderblogs of StormW and Weather456, who are now featured bloggers for the coming hurricane season, have more information on this potential development, plus the possible development of a subtropical storm between Florida and Bermuda next week.

Major severe weather outbreak over Oklahoma expected tonight
NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has put much of Oklahoma in its High Risk region for severe weather today, warning that "The setup appears most favorable for large, relatively slow moving intense storms with large hail. A couple strong tornadoes also may occur."

I'll be back with a new post Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting pottery:

Tar Balls are the remains of oil (to put it simply)
Tar does not come from oilwells. The balls are formed when the volatile fluids in the oil evaporate out, or are taken out . What remains is a more solid consistency, not even looking like oil.
It is still dread stuff.
But the transition from oil to tar takes a long time in water.
So I would say that these are not from the sunk well. Although they may very well be from that area.


how long does the transition take?
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397 atmoaggie "......(if any of this rings true, I cannot help you)"

hee hee hee... Huge asphalt volcanoes discovered off the left coast of Santa Barbara
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An occluded low - West coast

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
LOOKS LIKE BIG PDS IN OK
AS DARKNESS FALLS AND THE DREADED NIGHTIME STORMS COME
HEADS UP AND EYES WIDE OPEN

RELAX!!

This is a PDS Tornado Watch. They are rain-wrapped, not able to see them, like on 5-10-10. So far, so good, hitting very rural areas and NO major damage reports!!!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785


Tulsa
Forecasts for Oklahoma %u2014 Return to U.S. Severe Weather
Current Severe Weather

Tornado Warning

Statement as of 8:06 PM CDT on May 19, 2010

... The Tornado Warning for Tulsa... eastern creek... southwestern
Wagoner and northern Okmulgee counties continues...

At 805 PM CDT... Doppler radar continued to indicate a severe
thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado located near
Kellyville... moving east at 25 mph.

Some locations in or near the path of this storm include... Sapulpa...
Kiefer... Mounds... Glenpool... Jenks... Bixby... Leonard... Hectorville...
Liberty and Tulsa.

This includes Interstate 44 between mile markers 196 and 228.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

If you are near the path of this storm... take cover now! If no
underground shelter is available move to an interior room on the
lowest floor. Mobile homes and vehicles should be abandoned for more
substantial shelter. Avoid windows!

A Tornado Warning remains in effect until 815 PM CDT for Tulsa...
eastern creek... southwestern Wagoner and northern Okmulgee counties.


Lat... Lon 3579 9634 3609 9634 3615 9588 3582 9576
time... Mot... loc 0107z 255deg 22kt 3592 9616
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406. DEKRE
Quoting pottery:

Interesting. But I would imagine that the percentages would have changed in the 15 years since.
I think (I hope) that 'down the drain', 'Bilging' etc would have reduced with all the recent information and awareness.
Would be fun to find an updated study.


You are a hopeless optimist :)
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Alert! Officials have found a collection of pools of tar in Southern California. Test samples have been collected and are currently aboard our government's fastest jet on their way to be tested to determine the source.

The tar was found near Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Some locals have been complaining about the odor, as well. Brandi Hernandez said "I did notice just today that the air has a petroleum smell. I think we should have everyone at BP fired, even though I work at the station on the corner. Hmmm, or maybe this tar was deported by Arizona."

Joe Blow also states "the odor is unbearable. Smells like a refinery with the tar, oil, and methane. We should get off fossil fuels so things like these tar pits will not happen again."

Scientists mostly agree that the Los Angeles tar find mostly likely is unrelated to BP's woes. But one we consult frequently, Political Scientist Dr. Peter Lefty at University of California in Berkeley said, "well, BP did start drilling before Wilshire Boulevard existed, maybe there is a connection".

(if any of this rings true, I cannot help you)

Picking on the La Brea Tar Pits in LA, CA :o).

Yes, these are 100% naturally occurring tar pits. BP/Shell/ExxonMobil/Conoco and Valero, rest peacefully, this is not your fault.
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Quoting Ossqss:
Can anyone find newer stats as to where oil in the ocean comes from? Do you think this has changed?

The text on this site is presented as an archival version of the script of "Ocean Planet," a 1995 Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition. The content reflects the state of knowledge at the time of the exhibition, and has not been updated. Source http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/OCEAN_PLANET/HTML/peril_oil_pollution.html

Interesting. But I would imagine that the percentages would have changed in the 15 years since.
I think (I hope) that 'down the drain', 'Bilging' etc would have reduced with all the recent information and awareness.
Would be fun to find an updated study.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24802
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400. DEKRE
Quoting Skyepony:
F/V Charlie Girl
Offshore, Cape Canaveral, FL 2010-May-15

Late on May 15, 2010, the shrimping vessel F/V Charlie Girl sank in 60 feet of water offshore of Cape Canaveral, FL. Crew rescued by another fishing vessel. USCG requested trajectory analysis of spilled diesel fuel.


Diesel fuel ddoesn't form tar balls in 5 days
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
Alert! Officials have found a collection of pools of tar in Southern California. Test samples have been collected and are currently aboard our government's fastest jet on their way to be tested to determine the source.

The tar was found near Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Some locals have been complaining about the odor, as well. Brandi Hernandez said "I did notice just today that the air has a petroleum smell. I think we should have everyone at BP fired, even though I work at the station on the corner. Hmmm, or maybe this tar was deported by Arizona."

Joe Blow also states "the odor is unbearable. Smells like a refinery with the tar, oil, and methane. We should get off fossil fuels so things like these tar pits will not happen again."

Scientists mostly agree that the Los Angeles tar find most likely is unrelated to BP's woes. But one we consult frequently, Political Scientist Dr. Peter Lefty at University of California in Berkeley said, "well, BP did start drilling before Wilshire Boulevard existed, maybe there is a connection".

(if any of this rings true, I cannot help you)
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Just in from work....Is there still suppose to be any type developemnt in the SW carribean or by the bahamas next week??
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I'm going to be updating my blog now. I will have it up within 20 minutes.
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Quoting Levi32:
18z UKMET 36 hour surface: (yes that is as far out as the 18z run goes lol)


Wow, the BH reaches almost to 10n in the Atl in, that image. Is that a normal situation?
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i be back got to go finish putting ac in the window of the apartment all ready got one in just putting in number two and iam ready for our first 85 degree day tomorrow
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18z UKMET 36 hour surface: (yes that is as far out as the 18z run goes lol)

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336 MiamiHurricanes09 "NOAA numbers to be released on May 27th.
Conference moved from Miami to Washington D.C.
"

Yesterday

3July05 when the hurricane-generating machine went into full overdrive

Kinda hard for the head honchos to be heard by the press over the working staff in Miami blindly running around screaming,
"AAAAYYYYEEEEEEEEEE!!! WE'RE All GONNA DIE!!! WE'RE All GONNA DIE!!!"
.
.
.
.
And yeah, I'm joking of course.
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386. srada
OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY TV3) -- Vacationers in Oak Island were greeted with an expected sight today as tar balls washed up on shore. Tar balls are remnants of an oil spill. They're sticky and dark in color.

The vacationers who found this tar ball say they've seen several more on the beach. At first they didn't know what to think.

"We weren't sure what it was until we saw Good Morning America this morning, and they had the exact replica of the tar that had been from the oil spill," said Larissa Stanley, who was visiting from Fayetteville.

We called the Oak Island Coast Guard Station to see if they knew where these tar balls came from, but we were the first ones to inform them.

The federal government today said tar balls that have washed up in the Florida Keys are not from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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LOOKS LIKE BIG PDS IN OK
AS DARKNESS FALLS AND THE DREADED NIGHTIME STORMS COME
HEADS UP AND EYES WIDE OPEN
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NOAA downplays danger of BP oil in loop current hitting Florida beaches
By Christine Stapleton Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Updated: 6:26 p.m. Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Posted: 11:08 a.m. Wednesday, May 19, 2010


The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has confirmed that a "small portion of the oil slick" from the Deepwater Horizon disaster has made its way into the loop current, a wobbly current in the Gulf of Mexico that will likely push the oil around the Florida Straits and into the Gulf Stream up the east coast of Florida.

During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, NOAA officials did not give the position or dimensions of the "small portion" of oil in the loop current. However, the oil in the loop appears as a light sheen on the water and not the heavy, brown mousse that has been reported closer to the spill.

Officials downplayed the danger posed by oil in the loop current and the likelihood of it reaching land. It would take persistant onshore winds or an eddy on the edge of the current to push it onto Florida's beaches.

And, by the time the sheen reached Florida — an estimated 10 days — chemical dispersants and natural evaporation would "reduce the oil volume significantly," according to NOAA. The weathered oil would most likely turn into tar balls, the NOAA said.

But scientists returning from a 12-day research mission this weekend said Monday and Tuesday that the oil had already reached the loop current and forecast it could be seen as early as Sunday on beaches in the Florida Keys.

Wednesday was the first time NOAA confirmed that the oil is in the loop current, which is bout 80-100 miles from Florida's west coast.

Waters in the Loop Current feed the Gulf Stream, which runs along the east coast of the United States. The Gulf Stream comes closest to land in Palm Beach County.

Also on Wednesday, ten university and government scientists from the Florida Institute of Oceanography at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg left port on a five-day research mission. Another vessel will head into the Gulf later this week.

To help:

The Nature Conservancy is looking for volunteers to help with a pre-oil shoreline clean-up this weekend in the Florida keys. Preemptively removing trash from the shoreline of the preserve will reduce potential for oil to stick to debris and become hazardous waste.

Volunteers should bring kayaks or canoes, sun protection, eye protection, water shoes, water bottles and gloves. The Nature Conservancy will provide drinking water and trash bags. A limited number of kayaks and canoes are available for volunteers who do not have their own.

Volunteers will gather at The Nature Conservancy's John J. Pescatello Torchwood Hammock Preserve on Little Torch Key. Little Torch Key is at mile marker 28. From U.S. 1 southbound, turn left (oceanside) onto Pirates Road; at the end, turn left on Jolly Roger Drive, then drive to the end. Parking is limited so the Conservancy asks volunteers to carpool and not block the road.

To RSVP or for more information, contact Caitlin Lustic at The Nature Conservancy office at 305-745-8402 ext. 114 or cell phone 919-724-1013. The website www.KeysSpill.com will post updates on this and other cleanups.

Find this article at:
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/noaa-downplays-danger-of-bp-oil-in-loop-696723.html
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Tulsa
Forecasts for Oklahoma Return to U.S. Severe Weather
Current Severe Weather


Tornado Warning

Statement as of 7:49 PM CDT on May 19, 2010

... The Tornado Warning for Tulsa... central creek... southwestern
Wagoner and northern Okmulgee counties continues...

At 746 PM CDT... Doppler radar continued to indicate a severe
thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado located near
Kellyville... moving northeast at 20 mph.

Some locations in or near the path of this storm include...
Kellyville... Mounds... Sapulpa... Kiefer... Glenpool... Jenks... Bixby...
Leonard... Hectorville... Liberty and Tulsa.

This includes Interstate 44 between mile markers 187 and 228.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

If you are near the path of this storm... take cover now! If no
underground shelter is available move to an interior room on the
lowest floor. Mobile homes and vehicles should be abandoned for more
substantial shelter. Avoid windows!

A Tornado Warning remains in effect until 815 PM CDT for Tulsa...
central creek... southwestern Wagoner and northern Okmulgee counties.


Lat... Lon 3578 9645 3592 9653 3609 9634 3615 9588
3582 9576
time... Mot... loc 0048z 238deg 19kt 3590 9627
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Quoting pottery:
post 366. Fantastic image!


I believe its a radar from Orbit Image pottery.

LSU site has been doing them.

ESL by LSU
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
post 366. Fantastic image!
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NEXRAD Radar
Oklahoma City, Storm Total Surface Rainfall Accumulation Range 124 NMI

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
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NEXRAD Radar
Oklahoma City, Echo Tops Range 124 NMI

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Quoting JFLORIDA:
In some alternate universe somewhere im sure that is valid. What exactly does it mean here. They traced the origin and released the results.
The tar balls regardless, are environmental filth - from some leak/spill/illegal activity.
Not necessarily. But, yeah, is likely filth. This was about it being from BP's accident, not a leaking Libyan tanker driving through the straits.
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Id say a huge oil spill and tar on a beach not to far away in the direction of prevailing currents - it was reasonable to cast suspicion on the huge active spill.

...until the currents and trajectories were worked out and all of the people in the field said over and over again that the Keys finds almost couldn't be from the BP problem.
Quoting JFLORIDA:
So whats your "tar ball" type event validation for the latest attack on the IPCC?
Only stating that the same people that want to take everything Trenberth says out loud as fact, yet refuse to listen to one whit of reasonable explanation from scientists in oceanography concerning the Keys finds. (This phenomenon is not limited to this room.)

Though it sounds hypocritical, I am the exact opposite. I think Trenberth went looking for "tar balls" and found them, and I think the oceanographers were right on, yesterday anyway. I think both of the above because when I went looking for data to validate or debunk their statements... (I think you guys can guess how that turned out)

Wish the climate thing was as easy to prove/disprove, but, alas, our instrument record was/is/will be not capable of such a thing.

But for now:
Oceanographers 1
Blind-Fear 0

(might go to -1 if the NC thing actually takes off...how absurd)
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NEXRAD Radar
Oklahoma City, Storm Relative Mean Radial Velocity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI

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NEXRAD Radar
Oklahoma City, Vertically Integrated Liquid Range 124 NMI

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371. Skyepony (Mod)
F/V Charlie Girl
Offshore, Cape Canaveral, FL 2010-May-15

Late on May 15, 2010, the shrimping vessel F/V Charlie Girl sank in 60 feet of water offshore of Cape Canaveral, FL. Crew rescued by another fishing vessel. USCG requested trajectory analysis of spilled diesel fuel.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 210 Comments: 39137
I was watching the coverage live on KFOR. The station's weatherman was giving (IMHO) excellent coverage of the storm cells.

My wife had asked why they didn't have more live feeds and who was this 'jerk' that keeps coming on to show the radar images. I told her that, as a trained Psychologist and Social Worker, she knows better than that. It takes at least two sessions to diagnose.

She said "well, he's been on at least twice, so he's a jerk. Where are the live feeds?"

There's just no pleasing some people. ;>)
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368. Skyepony (Mod)
There was an oil spill a few days or more ago east of Cape Canaveral, FL. I had commented about it in my blog when it happened. Just noticed it on some incident site, not on the local news... That's probably where the NC tarballs are coming from..
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20100517.1636.t1.oil_slick_true
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364. xcool
:0
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363. JeffM
I'm in OKC now and it appears the storms pretty much past to the north and south of the city. They got lucky this time.
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Where are CycloneOz and Tornadodude?

More important - How are they?
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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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