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 TropicalWave:
do you guys notice how everytime levi and drak get into a meteorological disagreement, levi is the one that always ends up beating drak out? IMO, of course. I kinda wonder how that makes drak feel? nevertheless, both of them are incrediably gifted in their own right, when it comes to this subject, that's for damn sure.


Good try. They are on to you. You been busted for a long time.
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Quoting sarahjola:
is that blob in the gulf moving nne or ne? and when is it expected to come inland?
thanks in advance


The GFS actually initializes this feature but fizzles it before reaching the coastline.
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Quoting IpswichWeatherCenter:


What about Jeff Master's Blog tv? Run by us lot?
That would be entertaining!
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting IpswichWeatherCenter:


What about Jeff Master's Blog tv? Run by us lot?


It'd look like something from a mental hospital.

Everyone running around and screaming and fighting.
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You mean if we all comment about JFV, you'll ignore us all???????

Let's have a party WOOOOHOOOO!!!!!!!!!
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is that blob in the gulf moving nne or ne? and when is it expected to come inland?
thanks in advance
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Wouldnt if we had a channel NHCtv i would totally watch that channel


What about Jeff Master's Blog tv? Run by us lot?
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Quoting biloxidaisy:


I'd say he may be one vertebrae of many that make up the back bone of this blog. ;-) Lots of valuable posters here.
I agree the best blog on the web that concerns Tropical meteorology just my opinion.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting TropicalWave:
do you guys notice how everytime levi and drak get into a meteorological disagreement, levi is the one that always ends up beating drak out? IMO, of course. I kinda wonder how that makes drak feel? nevertheless, both of them are incrediably gifted in their own right, when it comes to this subject, that's for damn sure.


Quit trying to stir the pot, JFV. This blog isn't a competition.
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Quoting PanhandleChuck:


Yeah that's a shame, the regular trolls who live in here over crowd us enough. It gets really bad at the peak of the season when the tourist trolls arrive and squeeze in


Maybe the tourist trolls will be scared off by the tar balls.
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Quoting TropicalWave:
that levi is something else, he is the back-bone of this website. everything that says, usually plays. he is extraordinarily gifted when it comes to tropical meteorology. he is even giving the old-timmers on here, a run for their money. the child is sheer amazing, WOW. :0.


I'd say he may be one vertebrae of many that make up the back bone of this blog. ;-) Lots of valuable posters here.
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Quoting 850Realtor:


Oh, I know...just somewhat amusing to catch their 30 second tropical update. It's so basic even when there is something major going on.
Wouldnt if we had a channel NHCtv i would totally watch that channel
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting pottery:

Fear not! We still have the high SST, the low SAL, the increase in moisture in the Trop. Atl, and a host of other things to look at.
But wait! What am I saying?, maybe we should'nt go there. Actually..
LMAO, I'm working on my blog, I'll have it up within 30 minutes. So I'll be in and out, but scary stuff huh.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
3636. Grothar
Quoting TropicalWave:


PBC.


BC here. North Broward. Hot isn't it?
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Quoting PanhandleChuck:


Yeah that's a shame, the regular trolls who live in here over crowd us enough. It gets really bad at the peak of the season when the tourist trolls arrive and squeeze in


And of course you have those who have totally forgotten what they learnt over last season and spend the first few weeks remembering it all again.
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Quoting tropicaltank:
I'm concerned about the blob,as a resident of Gulfport.
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
You sholdnt even watch the weather channel its a big waste of time!


Oh, I know...just somewhat amusing to catch their 30 second tropical update. It's so basic even when there is something major going on.
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Quoting IpswichWeatherCenter:


Its approaching D-Min so that shouldn't be happening :o
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Quoting AllStar17:
That 2nd wave looks really impressive.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
lol.Their will probally be many when the season really gets cranking.


Yeah that's a shame, the regular trolls who live in here over crowd us enough. It gets really bad at the peak of the season when the tourist trolls arrive and squeeze in
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Quoting IpswichWeatherCenter:


Maybe the shear's getting sheared?
LOL!
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
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3625. pottery
Quoting Dakster:


Pottery - Is that fuzzy math you are doing??

If not, you are going to make the makers of valium rich...

Had'nt thought of that...
And yes, the Math is entirely fuzzy. Entirely brought about by taking too much heat in the yard yesterday!
Still waiting on confirmation from Higher Authority LOL.
(you notice I do not contemplate any disproval)
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
I know.It's just that shear use to be so high,and now it's like hey where all the sheer go.But I think levie said something about the atmosphere reacting quickly.


Maybe the shear's getting sheared?
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Quoting 850Realtor:
WTH!...TWC didn't even do a tropical update for this hour.
You sholdnt even watch the weather channel its a big waste of time!
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting Grothar:


What part of the country are you from TW?

I cannot see the answer yet, but I expect it to be different that all the other times that has come up...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
WTH!...TWC didn't even do a tropical update for this hour.
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Quoting AllStar17:
This GOM blob continues to increase in size.


Its approaching D-Min so that shouldn't be happening :o
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3616. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


I see. My bad. However the right drugs from the right prescriber for the right reasons can sometimes help certain conditions.


and some people do have conditions
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3615. Grothar
Quoting TropicalWave:
guys, remember, that's normal, since we're approaching la nina conditions, what you'd expect?


What part of the country are you from TW?
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Is there anyone on the blog??.


Just lurking here, laughing at some of the cave trolls
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3613. pottery
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yeah, it's been that way for a while now, it's starting to really alarm me.

Fear not! We still have the high SST, the low SAL, the increase in moisture in the Trop. Atl, and a host of other things to look at.
But wait! What am I saying?, maybe we should'nt go there. Actually..
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
Quoting bassis:
Radar is showing a tornado NE of Dover NH


TORNADO WARNING
MDC003-033-061915-
/O.NEW.KLWX.TO.W.0006.100606T1842Z-100606T1915Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
242 PM EDT SUN JUN 6 2010

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHERN ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND...
EAST CENTRAL PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND...

* UNTIL 315 PM EDT

* AT 241 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR
MITCHELLVILLE...OR NEAR LARGO...MOVING EAST AT 30 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
BOWIE...
LONDONTOWNE...
ANNAPOLIS...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING AND AVOID WINDOWS. IF OUTDOORS OR IN A MOBILE HOME OR
VEHICLE...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT
YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

&&

LAT...LON 3897 7650 3882 7655 3891 7686 3899 7684
TIME...MOT...LOC 1843Z 280DEG 25KT 3894 7679

$$
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3611. bassis
radr showing a tornado NE of dover NH
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
That's the type of stuff thats makes you wanna crap on yourself multiple times.Now imagine if this was august.Look out.
Dont get scared just prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting pottery:

True. Agreed. But based on the quality of his posts, I knew he would understand that I was joking, and not recommending....
Drugs, prescription or otherwise are not part of my scene and I do not recommend them to anyone.


I see. My bad. However the right drugs from the right prescriber for the right reasons can sometimes help certain conditions.
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Which direction will the blob in the GOM go? Will the Florida Panhandle get wet weather from it?
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About

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