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 hurricane23:
Another bogus low from the GFS...
Only feature of concern is with a possible subtropical feature of the southeast coast. 00z ECM in particular was fairly agressive on its last run.
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Latest pic of the GOM leak...

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708. IKE
Quoting weathermanwannabe:
698. mikatnight 8:24 AM EDT on May 20, 2010

Really cool to see Dr. Masters get a lot of press this year and hope that we have a "nice" and informative discourse on the Blog this year as opposed to bikering and troll activity. We will probably have more folks on here looking at Dr. M's blog as the result of the press exposure....Kudos to Dr. M for his work and giving us this great forum to discuss the issues.


You're asking for a lot on here. I can already see it simmering and it hasn't even started yet.


From Morehead City,NC....

"LONG TERM /SUNDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY/...
-- Changed Discussion --
AS OF 300 AM THURSDAY...THE SHORTWAVE WILL CLOSE OFF INTO A CUTOFF
UPPER LOW SUNDAY OFF THE SE COAST. THE UPPER LOW WILL THEN INTERACT
WITH A BROAD/WEAK SURFACE LOW NE OF THE BAHAMAS BECOMING VERTICALLY
STACKED MONDAY AND RETROGRADING TOWARD THE SE COAST MONDAY-THROUGH
WEDNESDAY AS AN UPPER HIGH OVER THE GREAT LAKES REGION BLOCKS ANY NE
TRACK. ALL OF THE 00Z GUIDANCE (NAM/GFS AND ECMWF) BRINGS SOME IMPACTS
TO EASTERN NC IN THE FORM OF SOUTHEASTERLY SWELL AND CHANCES FOR RAIN.
WHILE THERE ARE STILL DIFFERENCES IN THE MODELS...THE CONSENSUS
SUGGESTS THAT THE FORECAST EARLY TO MID NEXT WEEK COULD BE WETTER
AND COOLER THAN PREVIOUSLY FORECAST. NO CHANGES WILL BE MADE TO THE
EXTENDED FORECAST AT THIS TIME BUT IF THESE TRENDS CONTINUE IN THE
12Z MODELS THEN OUR FORECAST WILL NEED TO BE ADJUSTED ACCORDINGLY.
-- End Changed Discussion --"


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Quoting hurricane23:
Another bogus low from the GFS...


Adrian, you think we will have Alex from the area north of Bahamas subtropical or fully tropical?
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Another bogus low from the GFS...
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698. mikatnight 8:24 AM EDT on May 20, 2010

Really cool to see Dr. Masters get a lot of press this year and hope that we have a "nice" and informative discourse on the Blog this year as opposed to bikering and troll activity. We will probably have more folks on here looking at Dr. M's blog as the result of the press exposure....Kudos to Dr. M for his work and giving us this great forum to discuss the issues.
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Quoting pottery:

True. But with public scrutiny of ALL the video, we will have a better idea of how much/what increase if any/etc is going on down there.


been watching every video I can. At the beginning, the oil was coming out, and flowing almost straight up, in big pooofs. Now, the most recent video, shows the oil going further out horizontally, before curving upwards.

My thinking is either the pressure behind the flow has increased, or the oil itself has changed to a thicker, heavier type.
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I think disturbance next week near Haiti will become a 60 mph(96 km/h)tropical storm
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Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
00z GFS

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Hurricane season may make spill worse

By Oren Dorell, USA TODAY

As hurricane season looms, forecasters, scientists and residents along the Gulf Coast worry that a major storm could make the oil spill worse.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says a hurricane, or a succession of them, may bring oil up from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico and then push it ashore. Forecasters say a season with multiple storms could send oil farther inland and spread it as far as Cape Hatteras, N.C.

"To think a storm surge could resuscitate a huge sum of oil (from the deep) and deposit it on land is truly catastrophic," says Joe Jaworski, mayor of Galveston, Texas, a city hit by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

This year's hurricane season, June 1 to Nov. 30, is expected to be above average with 15 tropical storms of which eight could be hurricanes, according to experts at Colorado State University, the nation's oldest hurricane forecasting team

Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist at forecaster Weather Underground, says the oil spill adds "an exclamation mark" to the "sense of foreboding" he has over the hurricane season. Storms tend to break up and dilute large spills, but they also spread them over a greater area, he says.

In 1989, when the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons near the coast of Alaska, workers contained the spill, but a storm with 70 mph winds "made the damage much greater," Masters says. A hurricane blows at 74 mph. In 1979, the IXTOC I oil well blowout spilled 140 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. Padre Island, Texas, "got a huge fouling," Masters says, but "then a big storm came through, scrubbed all the oil off and it turned out to be a good thing."

The federal Climate Prediction Center will issue its hurricane outlook May 27. Masters and AccuWeather.com's Joe Bastardi say record high sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and cooling in the Pacific Ocean resemble conditions in 2004, 2005 and 2008, when multiple storms battered the USA.

Kerry St. Pé, director of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program in Thibodaux, La., which was hit by storm surges from hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, says a storm surge would carry oil over the wetlands and deposit it farther inland.

A hurricane might render the oil less toxic, "but it might destroy a lot of homes," St. Pé says.

None of the scenarios are good for the ecosystem, says Jim Edson, a University of Connecticut marine meteorologist.

"We've never dealt with anything like this before," Edson says.
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Here in Johns Island, SC love watching the tropics, but I'm not gonna lie. Not exactly thrilled with the prospect of a MAY start this year.
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Also, with the well established storm "clusters" during any given season, based on Klotzenbach's recent research, the issue this year is not one of "constant" storms due to low sheer, but, when/where the clusters will emerge.....This then takes us back to looking at MJO patterns (as mentioned in Storms recent blog entry) and other variations that emerge during the season......We will have plenty to look at and analize this year both as it happens, and, in post-season review and analysis.....It may a banner year for hurricane research as we all try to get a better handle on what makes the tropics tick (with a little "oil" dressing on top of it all).
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Good Morning...

Interesting development this weekend... specially on Sunday over the E Bahama's region, given the current model consistency (ECMWF, GFS, CMC, NGP, etc...). It's quite certain that this disturbance should be a warm core system, although initially is abit more of a cold core than a warm core due to an upper level low over eastern FL region into the SW ATL.

Sure looks like the a High will be moving north of the system towards the middle of next week and forcing this system NW, WNW to W and possibly WSW.
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Apple iPad + Job = good day.

Hello everyone!
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Quoting Patrap:
www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com


DATE: May 19, 2010 19:42:39 CST
BP:Simultaneous Operations Overview Graphic - May 19, 2010


Hope yer happy now, former journalist, Brit Hume. There's the oil you pinhead.
("...I'd like to spit some Beachnut in that dude's eye, 'cause a country boy can survive..."
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Quoting MahFL:
Pottery....
BP have had a live camera on the leak since day 1, they just do not want the public to see it, because the flow rate is much higher than 5000 bbl per day. It's gushing out, it's not a leaking garden hosepipe......

True. But with public scrutiny of ALL the video, we will have a better idea of how much/what increase if any/etc is going on down there.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Good morning. I think there has to be another reason apart from the oil spill about why NOAA is not releasing the May forecast today.That may be some last minute data that they want to see but that is my opinion.

I would agree with this. If they had the numbers, they would have said so.
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Haiti had a 4.5 earthquake earlier this morning.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8399
Good Morning. Missed Dr. M's Blog from yesterday afternoon but it is a bit of a "game changer" just before the this season in terms of potential numbers. As indicated below from the summary section from an FSU team in 2007 (AMS Journal), not much difference in general landfall location between a neutral or La Nina year for the US, but, the possibility of higher numbers for Florida and the Gulf (as well as the Caribbean) seems to be on the horizon.....This may turn out to be a really bad year for the Caribbean and Florida/Gulf Coast as sheer is taken out of the equation by La Nina conditions...........We really "need" a nice big SAL outbreak; I think that will be the only limit on the season until sheer levels pick up again in the late Fall....Ouch.

The regional differences in Atlantic hurricane landfall probabilities along the U.S. coast are identified with respect to the warm, neutral, and cold phases of ENSO. Combining forecasts of the ENSO phase that will onset during a hurricane season with the landfall frequencies from 1900 to 2004, one can determine whether the probability of a hurricane landfall is the highest along the East Coast, in Florida, or along the Gulf Coast. Local, state, and federal emergency management agencies, particularly with respect to coastal areas, should benefit from the results of this study.

Residents of the East Coast are most likely to see a landfalling hurricane during a season that precedes a La Niña winter. The landfall probability during ENSO cold phases (0.72) drops to 0.44 during neutral phases for East Coast landfalls. In Florida and along the Gulf Coast, there is little difference observed in the frequency of hurricane landfalls between cold and neutral events. As expected from previous works, landfall probabilities are smallest during ENSO warm phases in all regions.
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687. IKE
Quoting MahFL:
Pottery....
BP have had a live camera on the leak since day 1, they just do not want the public to see it, because the flow rate is much higher than 5000 bbl per day. It's gushing out, it's not a leaking garden hosepipe......


99% of us have already seen it. Too late BP...it doesn't matter.
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686. MahFL
Pottery....
BP have had a live camera on the leak since day 1, they just do not want the public to see it, because the flow rate is much higher than 5000 bbl per day. It's gushing out, it's not a leaking garden hosepipe......
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Good morning. I think there has to be another reason apart from the oil spill about why NOAA is not releasing the May forecast today.That may be some last minute data that they want to see but that is my opinion.
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Good Morning.
A bright morning here, looks to be a hot one.
The wave in the Atl east of here is not looking as threatening as it did 6 hours ago.
Good to know that BP is going to put a decent monitor on the leaks. In spite of their past statements, everyone needs to know how much oil is coming out of that pipe.
The marshlands are in big trouble...
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Probably 90L by start of next week.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
623 Skyepony "VA is having a sales tax holiday on hurricane supplies from May 25 to May 31."
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The GFS appears to have come to its senses.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Good Morning

Blog Update

Gale force system expected this weekend; Potential system in SW Caribbean
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
677. MahFL
I don't actually see the live feed from the sea bed yet, does anyone see it ?
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Good morning from Germany everyone.

BP bows to demands from Congress and scientists for live feed of oil leakGush of oil from Deepwater Horizon oil spill to be broadcast live after BP accused of withholding information from ocean floor
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent guardian.co.uk, Thursday 20 May 2010 10.28 BST
link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/20/deepwater-horizon-oil-spill-live-web-footage
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We'll see what happens.

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What are the chances of the Caribbean and the Hybrid systems of developing?
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673. xcool


ngp .next ecmfw





Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Warning:times is UTC+2
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did you know that's a flood in Poland???
Info:Link
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Quoting PolishHurrMaster:
Hi I'm a new poster from Poland(Europe)
I'm interested in severe weather(hurricanes,tornadoes,floods and more like that) and I want to be an active poster on this blog


Welcome. Certainly, you'll learn a lot here. I know I have.
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My prediction for incoming hurricane season is:
21-11-6(may be more than predicted)
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Quoting Patrap:

My wetlands are dying as we speak..

How can we fix this..?


Look at the price that nature is just beginning...to feel

The Marsh is the nursery for 70% of all Marine Life in the GOM..











That's super depressing ='[
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Hi I'm a new poster from Poland(Europe)
I'm interested in severe weather(hurricanes,tornadoes,floods and more like that) and I want to be an active poster on this blog
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May 20 forecast: Size and density of Gulf of Mexico oil spill
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com


DATE: May 19, 2010 19:42:39 CST
BP:Simultaneous Operations Overview Graphic - May 19, 2010
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
664. xcool



newwwwww cmc


Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com

BP:Relief Well and Subsea Containment Graphic - May 19, 2010
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
625 Patrap
Quote: Arizona Corporation Commission member Gary Pierce responded to the council's vote by sending a letter Tuesday to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (vee-ah-reye-GOH'-sah). It cites the mayor's support for the boycott and says he would "be happy to encourage Arizona utilities" to renegotiate power agreements that now send electricity to the California city.
Good riddence. Air conditioners should be banned in SoCal anyways; it ain't exactly a humid part of the world. And most of any excess in humidity is from folks overwatering grasses that evolved or were bred to grow in climes similar to those in Ireland or Norway.
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Quoting Patrap:


My wetlands are dying as we speak..

How can we fix this..?


Look at the price that nature is just beginning...to feel

The Marsh is the nursery for 70% of all Marine Life in the GOM..













I feel sick just looking at that. I mean, while I'm in southeast Louisiana, I don't depend on seafood for my living, but I also understand that there are a lot of people that do.

I'm very saddened by this, and also simultaneously angered.
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About

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