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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Nobody will be able to afford seafood unless your mega rich!

we still have seafood on the West Coast!
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Good morning everyone.

Tropical Tidbit for Friday, June 4th
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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
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The temperatures in the gulf are insane.
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Quoting CycloneOz:
From the previous blog:

Quoting Jeff9641:
I am so mad that TampaSpin got banned it's not even funny. I just love how some on here are so untouchable while others do hardly nothing at all and get banned. I really hope admin reads this. Some idiot on here posted a video a few months back and caused my computer to crash and did they get banned of course not. It's sad to say that JFV has more pull on this blog than most of us.


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




That is hilarious!
Member Since: June 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1015
New TSR forecast just came out.....Link
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Quoting msgambler:
JamesSA, They stated it would take 24-36 hours to find out if it would work and you have given it 12. WOW


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


Good Morning Floodman, What u think about the predictions for this hurricane season?
Sheri


I think folks better make sure their hurricane kits are stocked up...if it keeps going luike this we may look back at 2004 with fond memories of what a "light" hurricane season looks like
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Quoting CaneWarning:
Lovely, the whole state of Florida will be covered in oil.


Eventually, if the oil continues to flow. Go out and enjoy the beaches while you still can. My wife and I plan on going to the keys soon to do some snorkeling & diving.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
Quoting srada:
Thanks Dr. Master..

I saw the model run this morning on TV and Im in NC..I ask a question earlier this week about the FDA banning seafood with the gulf stream and all and people say it was highly unlikely..this would affect millions of lives through our tourism and fishing industries from the gulf coast to the eastern seabord...anyone thinking of eating seafood better eat up now because aint no telling what this will do to sea life in the ocean..
Nobody will be able to afford seafood unless your mega rich! Its already went up on the Gulf Coast and the oil hadnt even got close yet!
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Thanks Dr. but still depressing......Loop current transport possibility through the Keys and up the Seaboard in a few months, does not alleviate the "dead" zones that will be caused by the current oil circulating into the eddy in the Gulf awaiting dilution from a storm, or, worse.......These eddys are where so many fish, and fishermen, migrate to feed in the warm waters..........I could go on but can't at the moment.
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Quoting Floodman:


First bans are typically 24 hours


Good Morning Floodman, What u think about the predictions for this hurricane season?
Sheri
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Quoting JamesSA:
I see nothing preventing them from unbolting that flange and bolting a valve on it. Once the bolts are tight try slowly closing the valve.

If that top hat is only going to capture 5 or 10% it is basically useless, and should be parked on the seafloor with the other failures.

Now that the riser has been cut off and the other things tried, all of the reasons given for NOT installing a new BOP or even a simple shut off valve no longer exist.

(Of course I am preaching to the choir here.)
Who said the pipe will only capture 5-10% of the oil.
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Right over Patrap I see your momma.J/k
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got it aqua.....thanks!

:)
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Quoting Floodman:


First bans are typically 24 hours


This will make a full baker's dozen for me! :)
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 3420
amy- the zombie is the one pulling the rope. And I will flag and flag until my finger rots off.
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Quoting aquak9:
all tampaspin did, was give us a link to the direct cameras on the ROVs. Now, it was on his personal website, so that's where he went wrong.

But still....does anyon know how long he was banned?


First bans are typically 24 hours
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Quoting aquak9:
all tampaspin did, was give us a link to the direct cameras on the ROVs. Now, it was on his personal website, so that's where he went wrong.

But still....does anyon know how long he was banned?

I don't know how long, he sent me a email and told me. How are ya? This oil thing is getting so bad. They have found oil clumps in Mobile Bay. At least that's what i have heard on the news. It's really has us worried. Things are gonna get really bad. They said all the folks that BP put to work in the Bayou La Batre got laid off yesterday cause of no money can't pay them.
Sheri
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Maybe they will be able to open a little museum of all they little gadgets BP is putting on the gulf floor.
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Quoting CycloneOz:
From the previous blog:

Quoting Jeff9641:
I am so mad that TampaSpin got banned it's not even funny. I just love how some on here are so untouchable while others do hardly nothing at all and get banned. I really hope admin reads this. Some idiot on here posted a video a few months back and caused my computer to crash and did they get banned of course not. It's sad to say that JFV has more pull on this blog than most of us.

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



Thats freaking funny.. bad that has 24 hrs written all over it lol
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OMG Cyclone! Way too funny!!!
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they ban him and let the zombie keep coming back.



who is the zombie?
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Thanks Dr. Master..

I saw the model run this morning on TV and Im in NC..I ask a question earlier this week about the FDA banning seafood with the gulf stream and all and people say it was highly unlikely..this would affect millions of lives through our tourism and fishing industries from the gulf coast to the eastern seabord...anyone thinking of eating seafood better eat up now because aint no telling what this will do to sea life in the ocean..
Member Since: August 17, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 772
Quoting aquak9:
all tampaspin did, was give us a link to the direct cameras on the ROVs. Now, it was on his personal website, so that's where he went wrong.

But still....does anyon know how long he was banned?
Usually just 24hrs
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Lovely, the whole state of Florida will be covered in oil.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Oz...
Take back your post on previous blog about Cat 5 Matthew in Pensacola. Take it back and knock on some wood!
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all tampaspin did, was give us a link to the direct cameras on the ROVs. Now, it was on his personal website, so that's where he went wrong.

But still....does anyon know how long he was banned?
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Quoting Jeff9641:
Tampa Bay recorded it's top 10 warmest May on record.


Miami recorded the warmest May on record... beating analog yr 1995
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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
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Thanks for the news, Dr. Masters.
Looking for a positive spin on the situation.
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Quoting Jeff9641:
Bring TampaSpin back!


they ban him and let the zombie keep coming back.
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JamesSA, They stated it would take 24-36 hours to find out if it would work and you have given it 12. WOW
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Quoting Jeff9641:
Bring TampaSpin back!


Cheers to that. As if the hot topic isn't the "spill". I think it is better called a gusher.

Thanks Doc for keeping us posted on everything, including the oil!
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I see nothing preventing them from unbolting that flange and bolting a valve on it. Once the bolts are tight try slowly closing the valve.

If that top hat is only going to capture 5 or 10% it is basically useless, and should be parked on the seafloor with the other failures.

Now that the riser has been cut off and the other things tried, all of the reasons given for NOT installing a new BOP or even a simple shut off valve no longer exist.

(Of course I am preaching to the choir here.)
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Look at the wave, it's died down:

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Thanks, Doc.
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Yesterday was More Fun Than Two ExxonValdezes Day (see the bottom)
Which was both too saddening and too wrath-inducing to mention on that day.

In 2005, TropicalStorm Arlene reached near-hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico on June10th. And passed near what is now the DeepHorizon spill area before making landfall at the extreme western end of the Florida panhandle on June11th.
Comparisons with the day before TropicalStorm Arlene began spinning on 8June2005

3Jun2010

7Jun2005

3June2010

7Jun2005

3June2010


Other major US-affecting offshore blowouts averaged 8,000to10,000barrels per day over 10days at Santa Barbara, and 11,000to12,000barrels per day over 295days at Ixtoc I.
Initial spill rate from Ixtoc I into the Gulf of Mexico was ~30,000barrels per day.
The ExxonValdez wreck spilled ~11million gallons or ~262,000barrels in total.

Three different methodologies used by UnitedStatesGeologicalSurvey assessment teams have independently arrived at a minimum spill rate of 12,000barrels per day:
the surface survey team came up with 15,500plus-or-minus3500 barrels per day;
the plume velocity team came up with 18,500plus-or-minus6500 barrels per day;
and the third team's study remains incomplete and its methodology unannounced.

Using the agreed-upon 12,000barrels per day minimum, the DeepwaterHorizon will have spilled two times as much as the ExxonValdez a bit after noon on 3June2010
Using the 17,000barrels per day average of two studies, the DeepwaterHorizon will have spilled three times as much as the ExxonValdez before dawn on 6June2010
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Looks like there is a spin developing on the wave at 17.5N 82.5W.


stationary and building.
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even if they stop the oil they would still have a big mass out too too pick up and they have too have good weather too do so
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114024
tropical cyclone development over the next seven days.


you sure about that?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114024

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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.