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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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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Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:
TSR predicts 6 named storms hitting the USA, with three of these being Major Hurricanes.
Wow, that's insane. Can you give me the link? I tend not to really care much about the numbers but more the forecasted ACE.
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I REMEMBER THIS DAY!



September 3, 2008
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Quoting tornadodude:




Tornadoes Hit Central Illinois on June 5


Nice shots
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting Acemmett90:

one more rule once a storm forms unless they say it gonna hit florida dont say florida on this blog people tend to go insane
LOL, well I tend to go by model plots when tracking hurricanes, so if models point to Florida I'm not going to say that it's going to hit Wisconsin I'm going to say it's forecasted to hit Florida. Get what I mean?
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3400. pottery
Quoting AussieStorm:

Thanks Mr. Pottery

:)
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24307
3399. xcool



Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
3398. 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.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
3397. Relix
Wave at 35W definitely has some rotation going on.
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3396. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting zebralove:
Keeperofthegate that is the coolest image I have ever seen! Is there a permanant link to that I can favorite? Post 3353 thanks
its from a pay site i use called Weathertap.com i think you can get a free 10 day trial its good info sats radar models lightening its got all you need
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3395. scott39
Quoting weatherblog:


Poor Florida

Ivan is the only one in the Gulf.
Ivan was enough!
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3393. pottery
Looks like a bowl of Smarties. But not as nice.......
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24307
3392. Relix
To this day I look forward to StormW's and Weather456's blogs as much as Dr.Masters's ones! Great job =D
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3391. xcool



Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
3389. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Keeperofthegate that is the coolest image I have ever seen! Is there a permanant link to that I can favorite? Post 3353 thanks
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3387. pottery
Quoting Weather456:


I thank you. Been working on it for a while now. Part 2 should be further interesting as I will discuss all the factors that influence TWS such as the TUTT, Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, the Colombia Low, the Amazon Rain forest, SSTs, ITCZ, etc,...

Looking forward to that.
Together, they will make a wunderful resource.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24307
Quoting 850Realtor:
Found this one for 2004.



Poor Florida

Ivan is the only one in the Gulf.
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Quoting 850Realtor:
Found this one for 2004.

Poor Florida.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Pretty cool huh. I'm going to ask Jeff if he can post them on every post he does.

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Don't think he needs that. Put it on your blog if you like it.
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Quoting Levi32:


I was extremely impressed, 456. Definitely superb work there.


Thank you...
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3381. Levi32
TPW imagery shows rotation with the wave at 33-34W, as well as a slight northerly component to its movement over the last 24 hours.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647




Tornadoes Hit Central Illinois on June 5
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Found this one for 2004.

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Quoting StormW:


Hey my friend, great stuff on your blog!!


I thank you. Been working on it for a while now. Part 2 should be further interesting as I will discuss all the factors that influence TWS such as the TUTT, Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, the Colombia Low, the Amazon Rain forest, SSTs, ITCZ, etc,...
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Quoting pottery:
A couple of words that appear regularly on these pages need correcting.
1. The word "quite" as used in "a quite season" is wrong. It is QUIET.
2. The word "then" as used in "more storms then 2000" is wrong. It is "THAN".
3 The word "defiantly" as used in "defiantly possible" is wrong. It is "DEFINITELY".

These 3 words show up time and again. They are very confusing....

Thanks Mr. Pottery
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3374. Grothar
Quoting beell:


Well you ruined that post with fact. Thanks, LOL.


Well, he did spend a lot of time in Scotland, so who knows. LOL
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RE the questions on invests, here is the first paper written on the ATCF System. They probably stopped at 99 for storm numbers due to the limitations of computers back in those days. Seems they have not upgraded the structure so as to maintain backwards compatability. This quote from the article pretty much sums up the state of the art in those days:

"The ATCF system is largely mouse driven. Although some forecasters initially were leery of the mouse, all eventually agreed the mouse was much more efficient than the keyboard."
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3371. kingy
I would rather have 1000 'quality' posts than some of the stuff we get a lot of these days "Marco", "Polo", "JFV this that or the other " etc
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Damage in Elmwood Illinois

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3369. xcool
hey
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
3368. pottery
A couple of words that appear regularly on these pages need correcting.
1. The word "quite" as used in "a quite season" is wrong. It is QUIET.
2. The word "then" as used in "more storms then 2000" is wrong. It is "THAN".
3 The word "defiantly" as used in "defiantly possible" is wrong. It is "DEFINITELY".

These 3 words show up time and again. They are very confusing....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24307
3367. Ighuc
DC and Philly are now under tornado watch:

URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 273
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1240 PM EDT SUN JUN 6 2010

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
DELAWARE
MUCH OF MARYLAND
NEW JERSEY
NORTHERN AND CENTRAL VIRGINIA
EASTERN PANHANDLE OF WEST VIRGINIA
COASTAL WATERS

EFFECTIVE THIS SUNDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING FROM 1240 PM UNTIL
800 PM EDT.

TORNADOES...HAIL TO 1.5 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND
GUSTS TO 80 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE
AREAS.

THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 105 STATUTE
MILES EITHER SIDE OF A LINE FROM 30 MILES NORTH NORTHWEST OF
BALTIMORE MARYLAND TO 65 MILES SOUTHWEST OF PATUXENT RIVER
MARYLAND. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE
ASSOCIATED WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU3).

REMEMBER...A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR
TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

OTHER WATCH INFORMATION...CONTINUE...WW 271...WW 272...

DISCUSSION...STORMS OVER THE HIGHER TERRAIN ARE EXPECTED TO SHIFT
EWD THROUGH THE AFTERNOON AND INTENSIFY AS THEY ENCOUNTER A VERY
WARM AND UNSTABLE ENVIRONMENT. DEEP WLY FLOW FROM 2-10 KM AGL WILL
BE FAVORABLE FOR ONE OR TWO LINES OF THUNDERSTORMS WITH WIND DAMAGE
TO DEVELOP. ALSO...THE PRESENCE OF STRONG DEEP LAYER SHEAR AND
STRONGLY VEERED WINDS IN THE LOWEST 1 TO 2 KM WILL SUPPORT EMBEDDED
SUPERCELLS WITHIN AND AHEAD OF THE LINE...WITH TORNADOES POSSIBLE.

AVIATION...TORNADOES AND A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL
SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 1.5 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE
WIND GUSTS TO 70 KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO
500. MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR 27030.




Keep your eyes open!
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Quoting HurricaneKyle:
Has TSR released their predictions yet? I believe Dr. Masters mentioned they where on a previous blog.


TSR Forecast (±FE) 2010 182 (±48) 4.4 (±1.5) 9.5 (±2.5) 17.7 (±3.5)

17.7 named storms, 9.5 hurricanes and 4.4 major hurricanes with an ACE of 182.

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3365. Grothar
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:
We will see many many tracks like this this year



Thanks, Winter, right over my house! Can you move the cone a little?
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Pretty cool huh. I'm going to ask Jeff if he can post them on every post he does.

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3362. beell
Quoting Grothar:


I believe Holmes was English (fictionally). Doyle was a Scot. No one is really sure.


Well you ruined that post with fact. Thanks, LOL.
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3361. Levi32
Quoting StormW:


Hey my friend, great stuff on your blog!!


I was extremely impressed, 456. Definitely superb work there.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Has TSR released their predictions yet? I believe Dr. Masters mentioned they where on a previous blog.
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3359. Grothar
Quoting beell:


This is an ascot on a Scott. Close enough?



I believe Holmes was English (fictionally). Doyle was a Scot. No one is really sure.
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Quoting Weather456:


Not necessarily since dry and shear lies just north of the wave.
Oh I see.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Oh I didn't catch that. It looks to have a semi-closed surface circulation. Shouldn't the NHC at least consider shading it yellow based on this?


Not necessarily since dry and shear lies just north of the wave.
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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.