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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611. Skyepony (Mod)
Laila landfall on MIMIC.
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So what would be the track of the system that is suppose to form in the SW Carib. next week, I've heard all this talk about Haiti being under the gun for drenching rains that may cause flooding, but where does that system or storm go after that? Any new model runs?
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I've been hearing rumors that NOAA is delaying its forecast release for another week. Does anyone else know if this is true or not?
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Quoting pottery:
I am not sure, but more than a week, I would imagine. Depends too on the viscosity (thickness) of the original oil. It would need to be pretty thick on the surface (or deep underwater for that matter??!!) for it to lump-up like that. Or collected somewhere, like in an eddy?


ok so why couldn't this be from the spill? tracking of the oil spill has only been at the surface correct? isn't there a bunch of oil under the surface that's not being tracked as well?
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First, he went into detail in two committee hearings May 11 about the tests that were done to check his company's cement job -- called positive and negative pressure tests -- and a third test that BP never asked for. That test is called a "cement bond log," which records data collected from wires run down the well to measure sounds that indicate whether there are any weaknesses or spaces in the cement.

Probert told a Senate committee last week that the cement bond log is "the only test that can really determine the actual effectiveness of the bond between the cement sheets, the formation and the casing itself."

Gregory McCormack, director of the Petroleum Extension Service at the University of Texas, called the cement bond log the "gold standard" of cement tests. It records detailed, 360-degree representations of the well and can show where the cement isn't adhering fully to the casing and where there may be paths for gas or oil to get into the hole.

Schlumberger's Harris said the contractor was ready to do any such wireline tests, but was never directed to do so. The team had finished doing tests on the subsea layers of earth being drilled five days earlier and hadn't done any work since, Harris said.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628
00Z GFS forms a low in the Bahamas in 24 hours, closes it in 36
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7395
Costly, time-consuming test of cement linings in Deepwater Horizon rig was omitted, spokesman says
By David Hammer, The Times-Picayune
May 19, 2010, 10:30PM


BP hired a top oilfield service company to test the strength of cement linings on the Deepwater Horizon's well, but sent the firm's workers home 11 hours before the rig exploded April 20 without performing a final check that a top cementing company executive called "the only test that can really determine the actual effectiveness" of the well's seal.

A spokesman for the testing firm, Schlumberger, said BP had a Schlumberger team and equipment for sending acoustic testing lines down the well "on standby" from April 18 to April 20. But BP never asked the Schlumberger crew to perform the acoustic test and sent its members back to Louisiana on a regularly scheduled helicopter flight at 11 a.m., Schlumberger spokesman Stephen T. Harris said.

At a few minutes before 10 p.m., a belch of natural gas shot out of the well, up a riser pipe to the rig above, igniting massive explosions, killing 11 crewmembers and sending millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf. The rig's owner, Transocean, blames failed cement seals, installed by Halliburton, for the disastrous blowout.

Tests done, and not done
tim_probert.JPGCarolyn Kaster/The Associated PressTim Probert of Halliburton

But while politicians and media have focused on the finger-pointing by BP, Transocean and Halliburton executives in congressional hearings over the past 10 days, Halliburton's representative at those hearings, Tim Probert, has quietly provided some clues about what might have gone wrong.

First, he went into detail in two committee hearings May 11 about the tests that were done to check his company's cement job -- called positive and negative pressure tests -- and a third test that BP never asked for. That test is called a "cement bond log," which records data collected from wires run down the well to measure sounds that indicate whether there are any weaknesses or spaces in the cement.

Probert told a Senate committee last week that the cement bond log is "the only test that can really determine the actual effectiveness of the bond between the cement sheets, the formation and the casing itself."

Gregory McCormack, director of the Petroleum Extension Service at the University of Texas, called the cement bond log the "gold standard" of cement tests. It records detailed, 360-degree representations of the well and can show where the cement isn't adhering fully to the casing and where there may be paths for gas or oil to get into the hole.

Schlumberger's Harris said the contractor was ready to do any such wireline tests, but was never directed to do so. The team had finished doing tests on the subsea layers of earth being drilled five days earlier and hadn't done any work since, Harris said.

In fact, Harris said there was no time to get the company's wireline testing equipment off the rig before it exploded.

According to internal BP and Transocean documents released to the public by a U.S. House committee, the rig crew made sure a plug placed in the bottom of the well was set properly and then conducted the positive and negative pressure tests. Those measure the integrity of the well casing and of various seals placed between different lengths of pipe to close off spaces that run up the sides of the well.

According to Probert, government regulators at the Minerals Management Service don't require a well owner like BP to order a cement bond log unless it feels uncertain about any of the earlier tests. It's not clear what the results of the positive and negative pressure tests were.

Spaces between pipes not closed off

Probert also presented Congress with a schematic of BP's cementing plan, which he repeatedly said his firm followed to a T. Although he never mentioned it in his written or verbal testimony, the drawing Probert attached to his prepared testimony May 11 shows what drilling experts say is a key design flaw that could easily have allowed a blast of natural gas to shoot to the surface undetected and destroy the rig before the crew of 126 knew what hit them.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628
Quoting Weather456:
By this time tomorrow we maybe discussing a very broad area of low pressure near the Bahamas. We have energy coming from three directions. It's gonna be a mess.


Indeed, I honestly hope the Haiti storm ends up being nothing. The last thing they need is a huge rain making system.
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The oil reaches South Pass
Added by Michael DeMocker, The Times-Picayune on May 19, 2010 at 2:48 PM

MICHAEL DeMOCKER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Oil coats the base of marsh grass at South Pass on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.
Tags: oil spill gulf of mexico 2010
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628
By this time tomorrow we maybe discussing a very broad area of low pressure near the Bahamas. We have energy coming from three directions. It's gonna be a mess.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076




Oil in the water
Added by Michael DeMocker, The Times-Picayune on May 19, 2010 at 2:50 PM

MICHAEL DeMOCKER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Skimming boats gather oil at the surface at the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.
Tags: oil spill gulf of mexico 2010
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628


Oil in the water
Added by Michael DeMocker, The Times-Picayune on May 19, 2010 at 2:50 PM

MICHAEL DeMOCKER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Skimming boats gather oil at the surface at the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.
Tags: oil spill gulf of mexico 2010
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628


Oil in the water
Added by Michael DeMocker, The Times-Picayune on May 19, 2010 at 2:51 PM

MICHAEL DeMOCKER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Oily sheen at the surface at the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.
Tags: oil spill gulf of mexico 2010
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628
00Z GFS out 18 hrs, shows energy associated with the low pressure area near the Yucatan being pulled towards the focal point of genesis of the Bahamian Low.

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


Oil in the water
Added by Michael DeMocker, The Times-Picayune on May 19, 2010 at 2:51 PM

MICHAEL DeMOCKER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Oily sheen at the surface at the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.
Tags: oil spill gulf of mexico 2010
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628


Oil in the water
Added by Andrew Boyd, The Times-Picayune on May 19, 2010 at 7:44 PM

MICHAEL DeMOCKER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Thick oil gathers as the surface as the DD-3 and DD-2 at left working on relief wells, the Discoverer Enterprise (center) burns off natural gas while siphoning oil at the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628
I really shouldnt post on here when I get advice when I've been drinking...i'm lit...sorry See you tomorrow when i'M SOBER...
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WoW impressive convection near Yucatan, tops are out of the scale!
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This Oil leak is just the most depressing thing ever, think of all the innocent marine animals that are dying or already dead because of the human addiction with oil. Now add hurricanes to the mix, and oil will start to affect land animals and also humans! What a crying shame.
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Quoting lickitysplit:
RE:580


Thats a pretty sad read Patrap.


U betcha..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628
Deepwater Horizon disaster site is a vortex of activity, with focus far below
By Rebecca Mowbray, The Times-Picayune
May 19, 2010, 7:02PM


About an hour after leaving South Pass, the Mr. Leroy work boat suddenly cut its engines. The blue water of the Gulf of Mexico was speckled with small brown dots the size of pocket change, like chocolate chips floating in the ocean.

It was oil from the exploded BP Macondo well that had been sprayed with dispersants, the detergent-like chemicals called for in the U.S. government's oil response plan to help the oil break down.

Oil has been flowing into the Gulf of Mexico since shortly after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20 and subsequently sank, killing 11 workers and breaking a pipe called the riser that is sitting on the sea bed in 5,000 feet of water. Official estimates from the company and the government say that 5,000 barrels of oil have been billowing into the Gulf each day, but independent scientists say that figure is absurdly low, and as much as 84,000 barrels could be spewing into the water each day.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628
RE:580


Thats a pretty sad read Patrap.
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The Times-Picayune's Becky Mowbray and Mark Scheifstein give the latest update on the BP oil spill











Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628
I'll be watching EVERY GAME. Like I have for the past 30 years....WORLD CHAMPIONS....NEW ORLEANS SAINTS....WHO WOULDA GUESSED....EFFIN ME...FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS
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Worst nightmare realized for Plaquemines president as oil reaches marshes

“I’m sick to my stomach,” said Plaquemines President Nungesser. “It’s our worst fear. As this moves inland, it’ll destroy everything.”
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628
perhaps 80,000bpd is the new estimate?!?!?!

There are some people at BP who need to go to jail for a very long time.
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Upper air observations indicate shortwave over GOM - Speeds in jet max around 40 knots.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting JLPR:


I do hope we see a lot of those orange tracks V.V
The red one would put me at the bull's-eye of hurricanes :(


Well with the sea level pressure low int he area, I think that has something to do with why we all think landfalls in the USA are high this year. Gotta look that up.. It's just a forecast of what I gathered up from officials and some very smart wunderground bloggers ;)
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Quoting RitaRefugee:
101? am i forgiven or are you still pissed?


you are forgiven lol, I can understand the frustration on your part
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7395
Quoting RitaRefugee:
off topic....but How 'bout them Saints?


Written by NewOrleans.Com/Sports | Tuesday, 20 April 2010 16:59 | Saints News
Share |

Five nationally-televised games highlight the schedule for the defending Super Bowl champions.

As announced by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during an NFL.com chat on Tuesday, the New Orleans Saints open the NFL season on Thursday night football against the Minnesota Vikings at the Superdome. The game is a rematch of the overtime thriller in last season's NFL Championship Game won by New Orleans, 31-28.

The Saints will make franchise history by playing on Thanksgiving Day for the first time. A trip to Cowboys Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys is set for November 25 on FOX.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628
101? am i forgiven or are you still pissed?
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Quoting pottery:

I see your point. But I think that you are not giving credit to a couple of things--
-the leaking pipes are from cracks made when an entire platform sank onto them
-the problem is 5000 feet underwater.
-monitoring the pressure, the state of the BOP, the state of the pipe is a big problem
-there is apparently a real chance that things could get a lot worse, if they screw-up.
I am not trying to justify the actions of BP. But I know that they have some of the best minds in the world working on the thing, with some pretty good incentives to get it fixed. The incentives include the bad PR, the costs (drilling 2 new wells, cleanup, claims, shareholders must be up their rears etc) .
They have a real problem in an environment that is fighting back.
The leak is terrible for the environment (wherever the oil ends up), and for that my heart bleeds.
But I dont agree that they are not doing everything that they possibly can think of to stop it.
It's bad, man.


This is not the first time this has happened. Where is the urgency and communication from the US gov?

We deal with disputes on underwater estimates and denial from NOAA and a zone of comfort by virtue of the EPA allowing chemicals to be injected at the source. Something is very wrong here, just sayin, .........out and gone>>>
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
575. JLPR
Quoting reedzone:


Well those tracks had chances, the orange was about 5-10%, the dark red is 30% chance, which is the highest out of all of them, nothing over 50% because anything can basically happen.


I do hope we see a lot of those orange tracks V.V
The red one would put me at the bull's-eye of hurricanes :(
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nw atlantic WV image as of 1114 pm est 5 mins old
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting Hurricanes101:


no development with it right Chief?

How does it factor into the possible developments the forecast models foresee?


It moves ene across Cuba and is one of the components of the hybrid low per some global solutions.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076



http://Shuttlesource.com presents the STS-26 Flight Readiness Firing of the Space Shuttle Discovery's main engines.

Visit shuttlesource.com for more NASA Space Shuttle video.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628
off topic....but How 'bout them Saints?
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Quoting JLPR:


use the direct link one next time, looks like you used the image WU button, so a direct link was the right choice ^^
but yep I saw it, that's crazy man! but seems reasonable


Well those tracks had chances, the orange was about 5-10%, the dark red is 30% chance, which is one of the highest out of all of them, nothing over 50% because anything can basically happen. I think 40% of the named storms will head into the Carribean due to a strong B/A High. Like we're about to see next week lol.
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Space Shuttle Main Engines run on Liquid Hydrogen and Liquid Oxygen,,and the thrust Burned makes steam..so How cool is that.


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127628
I'm seeing a strong anticyclone coming from the Eastern Pacific, it's heading NE, is this why the shear is expected to drop and help form a storm?
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567. JLPR
Quoting reedzone:


NM, click the link and it will bring you to the image.


use the direct link one next time, looks like you used the image WU button, so a direct link was the right choice ^^
but yep I saw it, that's crazy man! but seems reasonable
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566. auburn (Mod)
I know this is off topic..but can someone tell me why and if this is possible?

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hey storm w can you find the center of that low/tropical wave in the southwest caribbean for me thank you
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11159
did you guys see this:

0115 5 NE MOSES LAKE GRANT WA 4717 11921 TORNADO TOUCHDOWN REPORTED 5 MILES NORTHEAST OF MOSES LAKE ON NE ROAD P. TORNADO ESTIMATED 300 YARDS WIDE AND WAS ON THE GROUND FOR 1/2 TO 3/4 OF A MILE. LIFTED AN OLD (OTX)

i think this is all one report
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Gulf oil spill may be 19 times bigger than originally thought

WASHINGTON — The latest glimpse of video footage of the oil spill deep under the Gulf of Mexico indicates that around 95,000 barrels, or 4 million gallons, a day of crude oil may be spewing from the leaking wellhead, 19 times the previous estimate, an engineering professor told Congress Wednesday.........
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Quoting StormW:
Current satellite loop imagery surface overlay indicates a 1006mb low over the Yucatan Peninsula.


yea I pointed that out a couple hours ago, it's interesting.. and I think it's moving ENE, there is a little ball of convection forming over it or near it right now, while a HUGE area of convection has formed east of the low, and is being sheared. Shear is dropping, but alot of dry air is moving in *from the middle and upper layers of the atmosphere*
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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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