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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Quoting divdog:
When the system is fully operational (which its not yet) will be the time to offer opinions if this is working or not. Let them finish putting everthing in place. Gic=ve it a chance.
Is there something that has not been put in place yet?
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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

how can you guarantee the us won't get hit by a devastating storm this season? elaborate
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Quoting CycloneOz:


Hahahaha! Everyone's got a funny bone today! Either we're deep down cheering that the cap with vents engaged work, or we're just starting to freak out from watching 40 days of "gusher cam."


It's the latter...BP and success are not synonymous. The impending doom is just getting worse by the day...enough of that funny bone stuff!
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Quoting Floodman:


You know what's strange? All those forecasters you mentioned provided us with data to back up their position...you, on the other hand, are so good that we should take you at your word...LOL

**poof!**


Exactly what I pointed out, no back up proof to prove a below average season.
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Quoting JamesSA:

Why the angry response? I just commented on what somebody else posted here.

Do you think it is working?
When the system is fully operational (which its not yet) will be the time to offer opinions if this is working or not. Let them finish putting everthing in place. Gic=ve it a chance.
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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


You know what's strange? All those forecasters you mentioned provided us with data to back up their position...you, on the other hand, are so good that we should take you at your word...LOL

**poof!**
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Quoting DestinJeff:


and, interestingly enough, my nightmares went away!


LOL! What's with the playgirl avatars in the weather blog?
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2010 will NOT be like 2009, not even close, we don't have an El Nino, I'd like to see some facts on why you people think wind shear will be high and the highs will be weak.. I've already seen maps and graphs proving that this will be a threatening season for the USA. Also La Nina increases amount of Hurricanes because of low wind shear.
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Quoting CycloneOz:


LOL!!! ROFLMAO!!!

What a great post! Wow!


We're BOTH on our A-game this morn, eh?
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Quoting divdog:
No sources I have seen are reporting what the capture rate will end up being if it works at all. You really should know better than to listen what the sensational journalists on TV say. All they want is ratings they don't really care what is happening with a few exceptions.

Why the angry response? I just commented on what somebody else posted here.

Do you think it is working?
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Quoting Jeff9641:


Your avatar should get banned.


Agreed. LOL!
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Quoting rarepearldesign:


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


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
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Quoting JamesSA:
That figure was in someone else's post. I don't know their source.

I REALLY hope this works... but from what we can see and the way it is being presented in the news media it doesn't look good right now. They strung people along for a couple of days in top kill to break the bad news gently too.

Again. I really want this to work, but it does not appear to be capable of handling this high a volume of oil.
No sources I have seen are reporting what the capture rate will end up being if it works at all. You really should know better than to listen what the sensational journalists on TV say. All they want is ratings they don't really care what is happening with a few exceptions.
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I had to put a shirt on! ;)


me too!!!!

;)
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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
NOW,I feel much better!!!! Thank you soooo much!
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HJ now that was funny. Marco
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You know what divdog. Thats a good idea. I just might :)
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Quoting hurricane23:
TSR raises its forecast and predicts the 2010 hurricane season will be very
active with basin activity 80% above the 1950-2009 long-term average.
This is the highest forecast ever issued by TSR at this lead time.


TSR June updated numbers 18/10/4


They are very close to my prediction of 15-18/9-10/5 which estimates to a high of 18/10/5 and a low of 15/9/5, I'm favoring the high estimate.
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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.
Wow you know that already for the entiire season maybe you should give NOAA a call.
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Quoting CycloneOz:
From the previous blog:

I agree. Seems like a natural survey question for the blog to take:



It was a definite laugher!! ROFL! However...we may not see you for a day or so...DOH!
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I believe the ripple effect the oil spill is going to have on our economy,will be felt for many years!
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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.
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Quoting divdog:
Who said the pipe will only capture 5-10% of the oil.
That figure was in someone else's post. I don't know their source.

I REALLY hope this works... but from what we can see and the way it is being presented in the news media it doesn't look good right now. They strung people along for a couple of days in top kill to break the bad news gently too.

Again. I really want this to work, but it does not appear to be capable of handling this high a volume of oil.
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4 Jun 2010 TSR Forecast
Name storms Hurricanes Intense hurricanes
17.7 (±3.5) 9.5 (±2.5) 4.4 (±1.5)

Funny
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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
Good to see you provided us with all those facts to back up your position. Sheesh
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Quoting NRAamy:
they ban him and let the zombie keep coming back.



who is the zombie?


YOU! Tag, you're it!
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CycloneOz:
I agree. Seems like a natural survey question for the blog to take:

you owe me a screen cleaning fee you sad sick man
ROFLMAO
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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
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Quoting catastropheadjuster:
Quoting hurricanejunky:


I've been banned for no reason before. I was then informed that admins were overwhelmed and it was a mistake. I am a paid member and I sometimes go off-topic as many here do.

I have TampaSpin on my iggy list so I have no idea what he posted to get him banned.

I will make sure all future coffee posts are relegated to WUMail so as to make everyone happy. Sorry for the off topic posts...


Junky I promise i wasn't complaining about the coffee ordeal i love coffee, just didn't want to see the same thing to happen to anyone of you good folks that give good info that's all. I apologize if your upset with me. I was just trying to let folks no to be careful that's all.
Sheri


Oh no, not at all. I'm sorry if you got that impression. In retrospect, I thought maybe the coffee posts should have been wumail material but of course there was banter about coffee so I thought I'd share with all. I'm not upset with anyone. It's all good! Coffee and oil...they sometimes look alike depending on the brewer!
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Quoting NRAamy:
Nobody will be able to afford seafood unless your mega rich!

we still have seafood on the West Coast!
Im referring to all the fresh seafood that is bought and sold a along the Gulf Coast! Millions of dollars!
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Thank you Dr Masters for the update.


Hello everyone, Good morning and happy Friday.


Yes, everyone in "hurricane alley" should already be buying their extra supplies each week...the stuff that does not lasts year over year... water, juice, soda, first aid meds, batteries, etc.

the "hard stuff" that does last every year, your tarps, gas cans, ropes, tools, etc. you should already have.


I hope everyone is WRONG about this coming season...

Take care and will check back when I can.

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hey utilaeastwind you just found that out



kinda looks like it's dying as well may be for short term
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
More than 80% of the USA's seafood is imported. Prices won't change much. Gulf fisherman are facing the same fate that Pittsburg steelworkers faced in the 1980s. A real shame.
1/3 of the commercial fishing in the GOM has been closed! Im sure it will just get worse! The taste for seafood aint goin down. If you have a demand and the GOM cant supply, dont think for one minute that imported seafood aint goin up!
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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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