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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AOI

AOI

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
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Quoting gator23:


nah that guy has been around a while he keeps talking about how he is always right and how its going to be a dead year. Just smile politely

it's reverse psychology. Just gearing his mind up for a "surprise" ....
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Quoting JamesSA:

Wow! That blob in the Gulf is getting bigger.

mll no worries for now.
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153. srada
Quoting aspectre:
You're right. I am in a BAD mood.
There is a minimum of TWO ExxonValdezes screwing up the Gulf right now.
More probably, there will be THREE ExxonValdezes screwing up the Gulf within 2days.

Then I find out -- through posts by WUbloggers' reports about his far-less-than-open email complaining that "It's not fair." - that TampaSpin quite probably screwed with WeatherUnderground servers.
WeatherUnderground is one of the few places where folks are even bothering to try to discuss the disaster with some rationality, instead of ranting&raving and otherwise indulging in the political posturing that swamps other blogs.
And it's one of the few places where knowledgeable people openly discuss storms in a manner suitable for those of us without deep training in meteorology.

And I hate blackhat endruns around the restrictions that webmasters try to place around their sites. Two of my favorite hard-physics and hard-science blogs eventually got killed by such attacks.

As I said about the ban, "Temporarily I hope."
But until informed by admin that I am wrong about what occurred, I will continue to believe TampaSpin earned that ban. And that he should just suck it up and quit whining.

Heck, if it's just a temporary ban, he should just suck it up EVEN IF he is totally in the right and admin is totally in the wrong.
It's their site to do with what they want.

Personally I've found the moderators to be extremely tolerant about what gets posted here, perhaps even overindulgent outside of HurricaneSeason.

But it is HurricaneSeason now, and too many people have come to rely on WeatherUnderground and its bloggers to provide information not available through other channels.
Not everyone knows how to navigate through the hard weather sites. Even fewer can translate what the graphs and pronouncements on those sites mean.

And so, interference with WU's mission should not be tolerated


Well said!!!
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Quoting Chicklit:
Looks like two different systems pushing oil toward the Panhandle...one from TX and one from Yucatan.
Be prepared for "them" to say "they've" tested the gobs and they're not from the Horizon spill.Loop


Wow! That blob in the Gulf is getting bigger.
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We knew this was coming :-(

Hurricanes could derail August oil leak deadline
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
You're right. I am in a BAD mood.
There is a minimum of TWO ExxonValdezes screwing up the Gulf right now.
More probably, there'll be THREE ExxonValdezes screwing up the Gulf within 2days.

Then I find out -- through a post by catastropheadjuster about his less-than-open email complaint of "It's not fair." -- that TampaSpin quite probably screwed with WUnderground servers.

WeatherUnderground is one of the few places where folks are even bothering to try to discuss the disaster with some rationality, instead of ranting&raving and otherwise indulging in the political posturing that swamps other blogs.
And it's one of the few places where knowledgeable people openly discuss storms in a manner suitable for those of us without deep training in meteorology.

Plus I hate blackhat endruns around the restrictions that webmasters try to place around their sites.
My two favorite hard-physics and hard-science blogs eventually got killed by such attacks.

As I said about the ban, "Temporarily I hope." But until informed by admin that I am wrong about what occurred, I will continue to believe that TampaSpin earned that ban.
And that he should just suck it up and quit whining.
Heck, if it's just a temporary ban, he should suck it up EVEN IF he is totally in the right and admin is totally in the wrong. It's their site to do with what they want.

Personally I've found the moderators to be extremely tolerant about what gets posted here; perhaps even overindulgent outside of HurricaneSeason.

But it is HurricaneSeason now. And too many people have come to rely on WeatherUnderground and its bloggers to provide information not available through other channels.
Not everyone knows how to navigate through the hard weather sites. Even fewer can translate what the graphs&charts and pronouncements on those sites mean.

And so, interference with WU's mission should not be tolerated.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tazmanian:
94. TropicalWave 3:58 PM GMT on June 04, 2010
thanks, doc, but you forgot to touch on the FSU model. how come? :(


Quoting hurricanelover236:
I cant understand why every single forecaster is predicting an active season. Boy now they're all going to look like fools at the end of the season.I thought tit was just Joe Bastardi but now everyone is saying it. Well i guess im the only one who is right. Take it from me. I can guarantee it wont be devastating for the US this year. Thank God



hmmm JFVS???


nah that guy has been around a while he keeps talking about how he is always right and how its going to be a dead year. Just smile politely
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148. 900MB
Quoting Floodman:


To be honest, gambler's right...if the "experts" say they'll know better in 24-36 hours, you can hardly expect news or change in 12. I'm not defending BP; nothing could be further form the truth. Their avarice, arrogance and criminal disregard for safety are the root cause of this disaster. I think we need to let them get this thing capped before we go after them. I honestly think the responsible officers at BP should be seeing long prison terms...we should send a clear message that while we do need the energy we will NOT accept this "Keystone Kops" approach to getting it.

OZ has been saying all along that he doesn't understand why there wasn't a regulatory officer from MMS on the rig; I agree with him but we need to figure out where the funding for the officer would come from...that having been said, there should be a "cop" on every rig but again, how do we pay for it? saying the oil company should pay for it through licensing and regulatory fees is all well and good, but there would have to be legislation that oputlines this and hell, congress can't even agree to raise the cap for companies in violation from 75 million to say, 10 billion...

Time for us all to get serious about these issues


Last week they said they would know within 24 hours about the mudshot, then they said another 24-48 hours they'd be able to tell. In truth they knew within a few hours that it was a failure and even tried the junk shot when the world thought they were still trying the mud. Not buyin it!
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Quoting Tazmanian:
94.devastating for the US this year. Thank God



hmmm JFVS???


Be care-full. I heard a rumor that several 13yr olds are working on a program for admins that would automatically block any post with a certain 3 letters in a row.
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Looks like two different systems pushing oil toward the Panhandle...one from TX and one from Yucatan.
Be prepared for "them" to say "they've" tested the gobs and they're not from the Horizon spill.Loop

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94. TropicalWave 3:58 PM GMT on June 04, 2010
thanks, doc, but you forgot to touch on the FSU model. how come? :(


Quoting hurricanelover236:
I cant understand why every single forecaster is predicting an active season. Boy now they're all going to look like fools at the end of the season.I thought tit was just Joe Bastardi but now everyone is saying it. Well i guess im the only one who is right. Take it from me. I can guarantee it wont be devastating for the US this year. Thank God



hmmm JFVS???
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Clean energy jobs can take their place! Yay! Oh wait, that would be in a world that gave a crap about it's environment...back to reality...

coal? nuclear? water? wind? all of these have been given a no go from environmentalist. i would like to see all these things provide our energy needs, but the harsh truth is oil is what we got and until we get more projects up and running we still need oil.
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141. IKE
Quoting DestinJeff:


really, 90% 95%?


From Wikipedia....

"The preliminary best estimate that was released on May 27 by the semi-official Flow Rate Technical Group put the volume of oil flowing from the blown-out well at 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day".....


If it's 19,000 barrels a day and they're collecting 1000?
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Quoting CycloneOz:


At one time or other...it was all the same thing, right?

Kill that part of the country, and do we have a house of cards on our hands? I hope our nation is strong enough to survive, whatever the outcome of this summer is.
I agree Ike, I was picking on AL. LA that is!
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139. IKE
Quoting CycloneOz:


It just doesn't look like it on the cam? That seems like a lot of oil still escaping.


I edited...NOT being collected.


Quoting JamesSA:
I got flamed for repeating that from another post on this blog.


Why? Those are the facts. As others have stated they have yet to close the vents. Maybe that will make a big difference?
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Quoting scott39:
I know the fate of the USA cant be dependent on Lower Alabama? LOL Just kiddin AL. I live here too!


At one time or other...it was all the same thing, right?

Kill that part of the country, and do we have a house of cards on our hands? I hope our nation is strong enough to survive, whatever the outcome of this summer is.
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Quoting divdog:
They have not closed the vents yet so we can have a better idea of how much suction power they can generate. I do not know what else needs to be done but i will wait and see what happens and not speculate on whether or not is it is working when we have not even reached the time yet when they said they would know if it working.
I hope it works too.
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Quoting IKE:
I heard their latest attempt was collecting about a 1,000 barrels a day. 90-95% is now being collected.


It just doesn't look like it on the cam? That seems like a lot of oil still escaping.
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Quoting IKE:
I heard their latest attempt was collecting about a 1,000 barrels a day. 90-95% is not being collected.
I got flamed for repeating that from another post on this blog.
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Quoting hurricanelover236:
The facts are the wind shear is going to be strong and the highs are going to be weak in the atlantic which will allow the storms that form to go out to sea.


The strength of the high does not determine storm tracks

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Quoting JamesSA:
Is there something that has not been put in place yet?


The vents all around the top hat have not yet been closed. Yeesh
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Quoting JamesSA:
Is there something that has not been put in place yet?
They have not closed the vents yet so we can have a better idea of how much suction power they can generate. I do not know what else needs to be done but i will wait and see what happens and not speculate on whether or not is it is working when we have not even reached the time yet when they said they would know if it working.
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ZOMBIE!!!!
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Quoting CycloneOz:


I agree...hook just one big bad Cat 5 momma into the TX/LA border with a hard turn to the right...and that will pretty much seal LA's fate...as well as our own.

I pretty much believe that as LA goes, so does the USA.
I know the fate of the USA cant be dependent on Lower Alabama? LOL Just kiddin AL. I live here too!
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127. IKE
I heard their latest attempt was collecting about a 1,000 barrels a day. 90-95% is not being collected.
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errr. I need to clarify something- I meant the face in the front of the rope was the zombie, not Patrap.

Sorry if I mislead anyone.
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Just in case this doesn't work, there is now nothing preventing them from bolting on one of THESE of the appropriate size and pressure rating...


It is a blowout preventer, but not all are complex 4 story high boxes. This one just a valve. If they were able to set on the top cap while the oil is flowing out, they would be able to lower an open valve on it.

Plus, they are an off the shelf item.

Hopefully they have another plan on the table aside from waiting and hoping on the relief wells.
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Quoting CycloneOz:


It was only a matter of time.



Tooo... freakin... awesome....
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Quoting rarepearldesign:


From all your posts it seems you work for BP or something.


So if you refuse to sensationalise everything and join in all the conspiracies, you work for BP?....More amazement from this blog.
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Quoting skep:
Does it really matter if 2010 will be a very active or a below average season? Everyone here on this blog knows that it needs only one bad storm. So, in the end, everyone living in the threat zone should prepare...the rest will be decided on a week-per-week basis. All those numbers floating around are useless in the end, except a number of "told you so" posts at the end of the season. There is no difference if one prepares for one or for many hurricanes, so just prepare und let the nature do its job and not argue about nothing.
But said this, I'm not affected, so I have an easy job.


I agree...hook just one big bad Cat 5 momma into the TX/LA border with a hard turn to the right...and that will pretty much seal LA's fate...as well as our own.

I pretty much believe that as LA goes, so does the USA.
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Quoting CycloneOz:


What???? Do you think you can just snap your fingers and keep oil rig workers employed, but as "clean energy" something or others?

Wow...come on man. My stomach gets hungry everyday, and every month there are bills to pay. Reality bites, but show some sensible compassion for these people. I used to be an oil rig worker in the Gulf. These are hard working, family men.


Man, lighten up. It was a hypothetical fantasy. You know, clean energy and the US are very far apart. We have the capability of creating tons of green jobs but there are many roadblocks, not the least of which is money. Compassion? Talk to BP about that one my friend...
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119. IKE
Oil reaches the panhandle...Tar balls washing up on beaches in Florida's Panhandle
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Quoting Floodman:


To be honest, gambler's right...if the "experts" say they'll know better in 24-36 hours, you can hardly expect news or change in 12. I'm not defending BP; nothing could be further form the truth. Their avarice, arrogance and criminal disregard for safety are the root cause of this disaster but that having been said, I think we need to let them get this thing capped before we go after them. That having been said, I honestly think the responsible officers at BP should be seeing long prison terms...we should send a clear message that while we do need the energy we will NOT accept this "Keystone Kops" approach to getting it.

OZ has been saying all along that he doesn't understand why there wasn't a regulatory officer from MMS on the rig; I agree with him but we need to figure out where the funding for the officer would come from...that having been said, there should be a "cop" on every rig but again, how do we pay for it? saying the oil company should pay for it through licensing and regulatory fees is all well and good, but there would have to be legislation that oputlines this and hell, congress can't even agree to raise the cap for companies in violation from 75 million to say, 10 billion...

Time for us all to get serious about these issues
Amen, The government sent BP a bill for 67 million dollars yesterday . BP makes that in profits in 1 DAY! Congress is never going raise the violation to at least 10 billion dollars until oil companies are not allowed to give to thier campaigns, and i mean Republicans and Democrats! This all goes back to greed and power!
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117. skep
Does it really matter if 2010 will be a very active or a below average season? Everyone here on this blog knows that it needs only one bad storm. So, in the end, everyone living in the threat zone should prepare...the rest will be decided on a week-per-week basis. All those numbers floating around are useless in the end, except for a number of "told you so" posts at the end of the season. There is no difference if one prepares for one or for many hurricanes, so just prepare und let the nature do its job and not argue about nothing.
But said this, I'm not affected, so I have an easy job.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Just when you thought it was safe to come back to the blog ...

he's back


Would you expect anything less than the best for this blog?
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Clean energy jobs can take their place! Yay! Oh wait, that would be in a world that gave a crap about it's environment...back to reality...


What???? Do you think you can just snap your fingers and keep oil rig workers employed, but as "clean energy" something or others?

Wow...come on man. My stomach gets hungry everyday, and every month there are bills to pay. Reality bites, but show some sensible compassion for these people. I used to be an oil rig worker in the Gulf. These are hard working, family men.
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Quoting CycloneOz:


Hey, I was hot looking once and wanted to show off. You know...me and my ego!


I kid, I kid. It's all in good fun my kindred storm chasing brethren.
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Quoting Floodman:


To be honest, gambler's right...if the "experts" say they'll know better in 24-36 hours, you can hardly expect news or change in 12. I'm not defending BP; nothing could be further form the truth. Their avarice, arrogance and criminal disregard for safety are the root cause of this disaster. I think we need to let them get this thing capped before we go after them. I honestly think the responsible officers at BP should be seeing long prison terms...we should send a clear message that while we do need the energy we will NOT accept this "Keystone Kops" approach to getting it.

OZ has been saying all along that he doesn't understand why there wasn't a regulatory officer from MMS on the rig; I agree with him but we need to figure out where the funding for the officer would come from...that having been said, there should be a "cop" on every rig but again, how do we pay for it? saying the oil company should pay for it through licensing and regulatory fees is all well and good, but there would have to be legislation that oputlines this and hell, congress can't even agree to raise the cap for companies in violation from 75 million to say, 10 billion...

Time for us all to get serious about these issues


(voice of Butthead): Preach on brother Jerry!
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Quoting CycloneOz:


It could be a moot point. No need for "a cop" on every rig if there are no rigs.

They're already being towed out of the Gulf and the jobs with them.

It was nice knowing ya, Louisiana. That open letter in the op-ed from this morning will have no effect to save you. Your government is turning its back on you big-time in a time of great misery and need.!


Clean energy jobs can take their place! Yay! Oh wait, that would be in a world that gave a crap about it's environment...back to reality...
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About JeffMasters

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