Long range oil spill forecast

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:02 PM GMT on June 04, 2010

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Onshore winds out of the south, southwest, or west are expected to blow over the northern Gulf of Mexico over through Tuesday, resulting in a continued threat of landfalling oil to Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana. The latest ocean current forecasts from the NOAA HYCOM model show that these winds will generate a 0.5 mph current flowing from west to east along the Florida Panhandle coast Sunday through Tuesday. If this current develops as predicted, it will be capable of bringing light amounts of oil as far east as Panama City, Florida, by Wednesday. Long range surface wind forecasts from the GFS model for the period 8 - 14 days from now predict a return to a southeasterly wind regime, which would bring the oil back over Louisiana by mid-June. If you spot oil, send in your report to http://www.gulfcoastspill.com/, whose mission is to help the Gulf Coast recovery by creating a daily record of the oil spill.

Long range oil spill outlook
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) issued a press release yesterday showing 4-month model runs (Figure 1) of where the Deepwater Horizon oil spill might go. The model runs show that given typical ocean currents in the Gulf of Mexico, we can expect the oil to eventually affect most of the Florida Panhandle, Keys, and Florida East Coast, as well as coastal areas of South Carolina and North Carolina. Very little oil makes it to the West Florida "Forbidden Zone", where offshore-moving surface currents dominate. The oil may eventually affect three foreign countries: Mexico along the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba near Havana, and the Bahamas in the Bimini Islands and along the western side of Grand Bahama Island. Once oil does get into the Loop Current, it will probably reach the coasts of France, Spain, and Portugal in about a year. The oil will be too dilute by then to be noticeable, though.

The present ocean current configuration in the Gulf features a newly formed Loop Current Eddy (dubbed "Franklin"), which will tend to capture the majority of oil that flows southwards from the Deepwater Horizon spill site. A plot of drifting buoys (drifters) launched into the Gulf May 19 - 24 (Figure 2) reveals how this clockwise-rotating eddy has been capturing southward-moving surface water. Eddy Franklin will move slowly west-southwest at 2 - 3 mph in the coming weeks. By August or September, the eddy will have moved far enough west that the Loop Current will be able to push northwards towards the spill location again, increasing the chances of oil getting into the Loop Current and being advected through the Florida Straits and up the U.S. Southeast Coast. Between now and mid-August, I doubt that a significant amount of oil will get into the Loop Current, unless a hurricane or tropical storm goes through the Gulf of Mexico. I put the odds of this happening by mid-August at 50%. The odds of a named storm in the Gulf of Mexico will increase sharply after mid-August, when the peak portion of hurricane season arrives. Past history shows a 95% chance of getting two or more named storms in the Gulf of Mexico during hurricane seasons with above-normal activity.


Figure 1. Animation from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) showing one scenario of how oil released at the location of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico may move in the upper 65 feet of the ocean.


Figure 2. During the R/V Bellows 19-24 May 2010 Cruise into the Loop Current, drifters were dropped on the eastern edge of the Loop Current. These drifters have all been caught in Loop Current Eddy "Franklin", and are orbiting the central Gulf of Mexico in clockwise loops. Additional drifters deployed by the Coast Guard over the past few weeks (orange colors) are also shown. The colored balloons show the starting location of the drifters. Image credit: University of South Florida.

Oil spill resources
My post, What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
Oil trajectory forecasts from NOAA
Gulf Oil Blog from the UGA Department of Marine Sciences
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the University of Miami


Figure 2. Visible satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Phet on Friday, June 4, 2010.

Tropical Cyclone Phet unleashes heavy rains on Oman
Tropical Cyclone Phet hit the northern tip of Oman yesterday as a Category 2 storm, bringing torrential rains and killing at least two people. Masirah, Oman recorded sustained winds of 74 mph yesterday, and Sur, Oman on the northeast coast has received 3.25 inches of rain so far. Phet was the 2nd strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Arabian Sea, when it peaked at Category 4 strength with 145 mph. Only Category 5 Cyclone Gonu of 2007, which devastated Oman, was stronger. Phet has emerged from the coast of Oman this morning, but is likely to weaken over the next day due to increased wind shear. Phet should hit Pakistan as a tropical storm on Saturday, bringing heavy rain and serious flooding.

Next update
I'll probably have one update over the weekend. The tropical Atlantic is quiet right now, with no models predicting tropical cyclone development over the next seven days.

Jeff Masters

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256. IKE
Quoting TropicalWave:
ike, can you see or smell oil from home yet?


No...


Quoting DestinJeff:


should I do it, Ikster? fish or tux?


Fish...lol.
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Quoting IKE:


Jeez...you type just like...JFV.


I always wonder: why does he always make it so obvious?
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Quoting xcool:


Wow, nearly the entire Atlantic basin is below to well below normal with vertical shear values.. And yet the lack of a named storm proves that A- there are several more important factors other than shear and B- this early in the season you basically have to have one of those trough/ridge set ups Levi was talking about to get a named storm (with a few exceptions).
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Quoting Levi32:


I actually was blogging about this scenario early yesterday morning, before Joe mentioned it. I discuss it in my blog entry from this morning as well.

Homer's finally getting our spring. We've been averaging 60 degrees for the past week, which has been very very nice.


It is the kind of situational development that is quite common in the Gulf
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250. xcool
wunderkidcayman /no problem" ;)
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting DestinJeff:


Hey Levi ... how is Homer? Here just in time for The One Who Shall Remain Nameless!

Thoughts on Joe's talk about Central America, up into Gulf?


Just drop the word Nameless and you have it tagged.
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Quoting StormW:
TROPICAL WEATHER SYNOPSIS JUNE 04, 2010 ISSUED 1:15 P.M. PHTFC


Good afternoon.

Models now show downward motion trough the end of june, however these outputs are always changing. Sure next one will be different again with the possibility of a weaker downward motion of the MJO.

Time will tell.. remember that development can occur even if there's no upward motion observed.
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I think we will see 1-2 storms in June. Long-range models showing building of heat in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. We should also see favorable upper level winds as upper level ridging becomes more dominant. We should get some disturbances toward the first half of the month.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30830
well sorry xcool LOL
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Quoting DestinJeff:


Hey Levi ... how is Homer? Here just in time for The One Who Shall Remain Nameless!

Thoughts on Joe's talk about Central America, up into Gulf?


I actually was blogging about this scenario early yesterday morning, before Joe mentioned it. I discuss it in my blog entry from this morning as well.

Homer's finally getting our spring. We've been averaging 60 degrees for the past week, which has been very very nice.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
242. xcool
Levi32:hey
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
241. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting Levi32:
Afternoon all.


Afternoon Levi
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30830
237. xcool
wunderkidcayman .damm .i was about to posting that.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Afternoon all.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
hmm very interesting we might have something in the gulf





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Jeez...you type just like...JFV


hahahahahahahahahahaha! Bud!

;)
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Id watch the Gulf of Oil for some development over the next few days

Tail end of front + tropical moisture from the EPAC + favorable conditions overall = possible tropical development
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229. xcool
Drakoen .look interesting from the satellite view
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
228. IKE
Quoting CaneWarning:
I'm headed to Clearwater Beach this weekend. It's sad to think I may not be able to do that in the future. I wonder if they'll rename it after the oil ruins it?


Gulf of Mexico...to...

Gulf of Oil.
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I'm headed to Clearwater Beach this weekend. It's sad to think I may not be able to do that in the future. I wonder if they'll rename it after the oil ruins it?
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Quoting IKE:


Jeez...you type just like...JFV.


Ouch
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224. IKE
Quoting TropicalWave:
agreed, guys,s enior chief, the 10th? that's pushing the envelope a little bit to hasrhly tehre, sir, wouldn't you think so?


Jeez...you type just like...JFV.
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A strong tropical wave with mid level rotation is located over Western Africa.



Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30830
Quoting TropicalWave:
agreed, guys,s enior chief, the 10th? that's pushing the envelope a little bit to hasrhly tehre, sir, wouldn't you think so?


sir? Case closed...as if it were still open anyway.
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220. xcool
CSU UPS NUMBERS...AGAIN


CSU has upped their number from 15 to18 with their latest idea. You can read this here:

http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/Forecasts/2010/june2010/jun2010.pdf

The place to watch in the tropics now is Central America as the disturbance there could be a player in the Gulf early next week. The system is being pulled north by the trough over the northwest Gulf.

Heh. Remember the winter run-up to Christmas, the cold, the snow that came before then? Well, guess what? The summer equivalent of that is on the way for the run-up to the Fourth of July. The last 10-15 days of June and into July, the center of the "fry pan Olympics" may move from Dallas to near DC, but include areas from the Plains east.

The Euro site I lashed out at Jim Hansen's, for lack of a better word, propaganda yesterday, about global temperatures. You can look at that site if you wish to see my refutation of his agenda based ideas.

Here is what they have done. They have adjusted down non-satellite-era temperatures (1951-1980) and are now comparing them to current satellite-era temps AND THEN CLAIMING IT'S THE WARMEST EVER.
NOAA is missing the hot summer, we told you that. So watch what happens in the sheep that are the mainstream media... hotter summer than expected... more global warming. And the hurricane season, if it materializes, the same thing. Combine this with the Gulf disaster, which by the way is still only a third of what happened in 1979 and one can argue is a by-product of policy that forces us to drill 4 miles deep (hello, what is the chance of a problem if you are drilling 4 miles, as opposed to one mile or less... wouldn't that be 4 times as much?), means a political whirlwind of agenda-driven policy... not science or facts, is about to arise here.

joe

Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
STORM W
The large tropical wave about to exit the african coast is it the same wave that the ECMWF is hinting could be a tropical disturbance next sunday
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


You honestly believe it would be a Good Idea to unbolt the only restriction in the flow?!

They have already cut away the bent pipe that was providing some restriction. The cut off pipe is already essentially wide open.
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216. xcool
HEY ALLL''''
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
I liked that 'B' movie.
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Quoting MahFL:
"It seems to me that the dispersents are just as bad as the oil. I can't imagine why they keep using them so much."

They use it because it makes most of the oil sink, so it's out of sight.


I don't see how out of sight makes it any better.
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Quoting clwstmchasr:
StormW - July 10th? If it is that long before we get Alex I think they better watch the Sunshine Skyway Bridge very closely:)


LOL
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211. MahFL
"It seems to me that the dispersents are just as bad as the oil. I can't imagine why they keep using them so much."

They use it because it makes most of the oil sink, so it's out of sight.
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Quoting clwstmchasr:
StormW - July 10th? If it is that long before we get Alex I think they better watch the Sunshine Skyway Bridge very closely:)


HAHAHAHA that is a VERY regional comment. I should have even gotten that but I do.
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


You honestly believe it would be a Good Idea to unbolt the only restriction in the flow?!

Like I've been saying all along. I wish they would quit futzing around with the well head before they bust something, spraying dispersents, let this stuff rise to the service, burn it off and concentrate their time and money on protecting the coast and mitigation of impact.

But I'm just Sunday morning quarterbacking like everyone else.


It seems to me that the dispersents are just as bad as the oil. I can't imagine why they keep using them so much.
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KGB or HDC but never ..... =-x
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Quoting JamesSA:
I don't understand what is preventing them from bolting a BOP valve onto that flange, now that the riser has been cut off and it is an open hole anyway.

It would be nice if they could then just turn off the oil with a valve. There are valves the size of that top hat that would bolt right on to that flange.


You honestly believe it would be a Good Idea to unbolt the only restriction in the flow?!

Like I've been saying all along. I wish they would quit futzing around with the well head before they bust something, spraying dispersents, let this stuff rise to the service, burn it off and concentrate their time and money on protecting the coast and mitigation of impact.

But I'm just Sunday morning quarterbacking like everyone else.
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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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