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 xcool:



here you go rob

They seem to have upped the chances of development in the eastern Atlantic a bit. At least since I looked yesterday.
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3455. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Do you know what were the numbers in 2009? 17 is a pretty impressive number none the less.

i believe at this time last year we were at 5 or 6 so far
456 would be best to ask
thats he's baby
when it comes to waves
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Quoting Levi32:
The ridging pattern in the east will continue to scorch the Gulf of Mexico SSTs.

Exactly! But not good.
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3452. Levi32
Quoting Dr3w:
Hello Levi, what are your thoughts on the Blob in the GOM anf the wave off of Africa?


From my blog this morning:

" The system I have been watching over the western Gulf of Mexico continues to look rather tame. There are now thunderstorms going off with a weak vort max south of Louisiana, but the main piece of this energy split off to the west while it was in the Bay of Campeche, and so there is not much to this system. While I will watch it because these vort maxes can be mischievous at a fast pace, I do not expect development.

The main topic for the next week will be a tropical wave currently along 33W, which has the mark of a trouble-maker down the road in the Caribbean. I have been voicing the concern for a buildup of heat in the western Caribbean during the period of June 10th to June 20th, and the potential for mischief in that area. This tropical wave could be our first chance at that, as it is forecasted to lift northward and become independent of the ITCZ, crossing the Antilles Islands in 4-5 days. As this moves into the western Caribbean in 7-10 days, it will have to be watched closely as it interacts with the buildup of heat that will be occurring in the region ahead of it, and the TUTT may be in a position to ventilate the area."
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
3451. scott39
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
today marks 17th wave to enter atlantic basin we are way ahead on wave output
How are the waves coming off Africa in June, comparable to other active seasons in the last 5 years?
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3450. Dr3w
Hello Levi, what are your thoughts on the Blob in the GOM anf the wave off of Africa?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
today marks 17th wave to enter atlantic basin we are way ahead on wave output
Do you know what were the numbers in 2009? 17 is a pretty impressive number none the less.
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3448. xcool
The area of disturbed weather in the gulf, which has been drawn north from central America, is not well organized this morning, It should run out of room. However the ITCZ is active and these waves will have to be watched for when they get west of 70 west, they can start making noise. An alley up into the gulf exists over the next few weeks given the pattern, and as Pacific water cools, these are more likely to come further north as they get west rather than simply march into central America



by joe b
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15618
3447. Levi32
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
today marks 17th wave to enter atlantic basin we are way ahead on wave output


I wish there was some site with climatology statistics for tropical wave counts per month.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
3446. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting IpswichWeatherCenter:


The trick is to look at quikscat (if its still running)
thats been dead since nov and not to be replaced till 2015
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3445. pottery
Interesting weather here.
Looking at the Rainbow loops with upperlevel winds included--
They show a partial return of Easterly flow north of here, with UL rotation overhead, and the wave at 30/35w under Northwesterly flow (UL again).
The current conditions are overcast, cloud-to-cloud thunder quite regular, and winds NNW at the airport, with SW in my area (south of airport).
Feels "stormy"..........
Very nice.
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3444. Levi32
The ridging pattern in the east will continue to scorch the Gulf of Mexico SSTs.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
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3442. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
today marks 17th wave to enter atlantic basin we are way ahead on wave output
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Quoting MrstormX:


Even last year saw a time of multiple storms at once.
lmao @ Ana
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For the Miami Area:
Maximum heat index readings 105 to 110 today...

my goodness...
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that wave at 35w is very nice. looks like mid aug. what about that convection in gulf. where is it heading? looks like la. is there a real chance for development with this, or is it just going to go onshore as tropical moisture
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1291
Quoting scott39:
I know the consensus on here is that the blob in the GOM is basically nothing, but it sure "looks" suspisous!


The trick is to look at quikscat (if its still running)
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
Yikes




My area is between 2500-3000. Not too bad...
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Quoting Levi32:


Indeed. Getting a June development with roots in the African wave train is a sign of an active season ahead.
Definitely. Another signal which people might not believe is:

2008 we had a very rainy season here in Miami.
2009 not to wet, particularly dry rainy season.
2010 very rainy season so far in Miami.

Let's see what happens.

I'm out. Later all.
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3435. xcool
i'm going say frist names develop African wave.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15618
3434. xcool
good QuestionWeather456:
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15618
Quoting Acemmett90:

looking at the map that other guy posted wee could be looking at tornados here in florida too
I doubt we'll see any tornadoes, that's a really rare occurrence here in south Florida. Things to expect are, lightning, torrential rains, gusty winds, hail, basically severe weather.
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3432. Levi32
Quoting Weather456:
When ever you see waves try to develop in June, it does more harm than good when the season really starts. I am looking at more of an Emily type development in mid-July. I don't think we will beat Bertha's record. But anything can happen.

The big question is where and when Alex will form?


Indeed. Getting a June development with roots in the African wave train is a sign of an active season ahead.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
3431. Levi32
European Ensembles also showing significant height falls in the western Caribbean during the 6-10 day period, with the 588 height line on the south side of the subtropical ridge lifting all the way up to Cuba.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
Quoting Weather456:
When ever you see waves try to develop in June, it does more good than harm when the season really starts. I am looking at more of an Emily type development in mid-July. I don't think we will beat Bertha's record. But anything can happen.

The big question is where and when Alex will form?
I have reason to believe that Alex will develop in the Caribbean. Where will it go, that up to mother nature at this point. I expect Alex to develop sometime in the next 14 days, particularly after 6 days.
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3428. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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3427. scott39
I know the consensus on here is that the blob in the GOM is basically nothing, but it sure "looks" suspisous!
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Quoting MrstormX:
Pop goes the weasel



That had to happen after I do my daily blog.
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


Cape values. (Convective Available Potential Energy)

Values in the 2000 plus range are high. A lot of areas in the 3000 to 5000 range, basically, big storms this afternoon.
Oh I see. Thanks.
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is that convection in the gulf where the possibility of development is. don't look like its got much time before rolling onshore into Louisiana
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1291
When ever you see waves try to develop in June, it does more harm than good when the season really starts. I am looking at more of an Emily type development in mid-July. I don't think we will beat Bertha's record. But anything can happen.

The big question is where and when Alex will form?
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Quoting Acemmett90:

yah but everytime a storm forms people say florida
Well if they have hard-core information, analysis, and facts that are backing up what they are saying I don't think that there should be a problem. But if a wave that just emerged off of Africa people are saying that it's going to hit Florida, that's just insanity. You really won't have a good handle on where a system is going until it's passed the Antilles. If someone says where it's going prior to that, that prediction could be totally wrong.
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Even last year saw a time of multiple storms at once.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I'm not familiar with that graph. Can you tell what that is?


Cape values. (Convective Available Potential Energy)

Values in the 2000 plus range are high. A lot of areas in the 3000 to 5000 range, basically, big storms this afternoon.
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3418. xcool
where weather456 & Drakoen at?
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15618
3417. beell
Warm front is currently along the MA/NH border.

Currently under Tornado Watch 272



MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0828
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0925 AM CDT SUN JUN 06 2010

AREAS AFFECTED...MUCH OF NEW ENGLAND...SWD ACROSS ERN PA/NJ

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...TORNADO WATCH LIKELY

VALID 061425Z - 061530Z

...TORNADO WATCH WILL BE ISSUED SOON ACROSS MUCH OF SRN NEW ENGLAND
INTO THE MIDDLE ATLANTIC...

WELL DEFINED SFC LOW WILL PROGRESS ACROSS UPSTATE NY INTO SRN VT/NH
BY MID AFTERNOON
AS STRONG MID LEVEL SPEED MAX OVERSPREADS SRN NEW
ENGLAND. WARM SECTOR AIRMASS IS QUITE MOIST ACROSS THIS REGION AND
WILL BECOME QUITE UNSTABLE OVER THE NEXT FEW HOURS AS BOUNDARY LAYER
HEATS. LATEST THINKING IS ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS WILL BECOME
QUITE FAVORABLE FOR TORNADIC THUNDERSTORM DEVELOPMENT...ESPECIALLY
NEAR THE RETREATING WARM FRONT WHERE LOW LEVEL SHEAR WILL BE
MAXIMIZED
. EVEN SOUTH OF THIS ZONE INTO THE MIDDLE ATLANTIC IT
APPEARS DEEP LAYER SHEAR WILL EASILY SUPPORT ROTATING UPDRAFTS AND
ISOLATED SUPERCELLS COULD ALSO BE EMBEDDED WITHIN A ZONE OF SEVERE
THUNDERSTORMS THAT DISPLAY MORE LINEAR QUALITIES. TORNADOES CAN BE
EXPECTED WITH THE MORE DISCRETE SUPERCELLS...POTENTIALLY
STRONG...AND DAMAGING WINDS WILL BE MORE COMMON WITH LINE SEGMENTS.
HAIL CAN ALSO BE EXPECTED WITH ORGANIZED ACTIVITY.

..DARROW.. 06/06/2010
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3416. Levi32
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
could be open for business pretty soon:



Is this the wave near 35˚W in the Caribbean? Well let me re-phrase that, is the energy of the wave around 35˚W helping that system develop.


Yes, and the two runs that had tropical cyclogenesis in the western Caribbean appeared to originate with that wave that is currently near 35W.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
Pop goes the weasel

Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
3413. Levi32
The GFS ensembles are showing the buildup of heat in the western Caribbean in 6-10 days, illustrated by heavy precipitation and low 500mb height anomalies:



Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
3412. xcool



here you go rob
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15618
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
Yikes


I'm not familiar with that graph. Can you tell what that is?
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Possible development in the gulf??.I thought the gulf was closed until further notice.
could be open for business pretty soon:



Quoting Levi32:
12z GFS Day 10: A trough of low pressure in the western Caribbean but no significant development as it moves into the gulf. However, this is showing the pattern of building heat that will have to be watched as this wave gets into that area down the road.

Is this the wave near 35˚W in the Caribbean? Well let me re-phrase that, is the energy of the wave around 35˚W helping that system develop.
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Yikes


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3407. xcool
oh man oh man 35w wave looks impressive
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15618
3406. GBguy88
Quoting weatherblog:


Poor Florida

Ivan is the only one in the Gulf.


Ivan was a beast. I remember afterwards, people in Pensacola were trying to say that the sustained winds didn't get much over 80, to which I say, LOL. Maybe true for the city, but I was near the coast for that one, and those were not 80mph winds.
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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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