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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3306. IKE
Quoting Drakoen:


Do you know the highest page number we have achieved?


I'm not sure. When it is real busy Dr. Masters has almost always had two or more blogs the same day.

Maybe 10,000 has happened before in combined blogs.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Thanks for the Invest responses.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3304. beell
Quoting pottery:

But I think the number-system is pretty dim.
What is wrong with 1/10A, 2/10A etc for Atlantic, and 1/10P, 2/10P etc for pacific for this year?.
That way, at a glance one could tell how many invests there were, per year, per Basin, without having to compute how many times we went back to 90.
And, why 90 as a start number?
Makes no sense to me.


That's the part I don't like. Comparing the number of invests to the number of named storms/year would be a breeze.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting plywoodstatenative:
456 could this be what the GFS ensemble model was hitting on earlier yesterday?


Don't recall seeing anything on the GFS ensembles and didn't see anything this morning. Do you have a link or image?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:


Do you know the highest page number we have achieved?
We are at 66 right now. I guess 125 is the highest number ever.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
3298. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Are you going to be up at 3:00 AM in the morning eating popcorn during the summer when we have nasty hurricanes in the Atlantic. Because I sure will. :)


LOL....I'll probably be up watching. Not sure about eating.

Promises to be an interesting summer and fall.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting IKE:


I agree with you. I imagine 10,000 within 24 hours on here. I've never seen 10,000 before. This summer achieves it!


Then the blog goes over like an enormous Jenga tower.... TIMBER!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Acemmett90:

higher maybe 10,000
I think so too.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
3295. Drakoen
Quoting IKE:
I've got a pizza roll and Coca-cola...waiting on the drama!

I agree with you. I imagine 10,000+ within 24 hours on here. I've never seen 10,000 before. This summer achieves it!


Do you know the highest page number we have achieved?
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30813
Quoting IKE:
I've got a pizza roll and Coca-cola...waiting on the drama!

I agree with you. I imagine 10,000 within 24 hours on here. I've never seen 10,000 before. This summer achieves it!
Are you going to be up at 3:00 AM in the morning eating popcorn during the summer when we have nasty hurricanes in the Atlantic. Because I sure will.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Drakoen:


Such bad syntax...

and quite aways off topic. I wonder how the admins will see this?

Currently at Sydney Australia
Temperature 48.4F steady
Dew Point 42.8F rising
Feels Like 48.4F
Relative Humidity 81%
Wind
Wind Gusts -
Pressure -
Fire Danger -
Rain since 9am/last hr 3.0mm / -
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3292. IKE
Quoting Acemmett90:

higher maybe 10,000


I agree with you. I imagine 10,000 within 24 hours on here. I've never seen 10,000 before. This summer achieves it!
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting IKE:


I don't remember the dew point reaching 79 last summer. It's a PWS, not official. It feels that humid out there.

I thought about how I would hate to get hit by a major cane and suffer without AC in this.
Yeah that really sucks.
Quoting Weather456:
The season will be expressing its presence later this week. Wave near 35W reaches the Leeward Islands with moisture. The wave in figure 9 on my blog over the Nigeria develops a circulation as it emerges around Friday/Saturday.
At least we will have something to watch.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Thank you.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
So that spells tropical trouble.Also do you think the wave off africa has a chance to develop in the carribean.


I think it can, but I don't if it will.
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3285. pottery
Quoting minorLeague:
Can someone out there explain the numbering convention for Invests? Are they always 90 or 91? Why do they sometimes have a letter (90L)? I've done a little searching but couldn't find an explanation.

But I think the number-system is pretty dim.
What is wrong with 1/10A, 2/10A etc for Atlantic, and 1/10P, 2/10P etc for pacific for this year?.
That way, at a glance one could tell how many invests there were, per year, per Basin, without having to compute how many times we went back to 90.
And, why 90 as a start number?
Makes no sense to me.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24871
3283. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)

An "Internet troll" or "Forum Troll" is a person who posts outrageous message to bait people to answer. Trolls desperately seek the attention they crave by harassing the forum members and moderators.

The only way to deal with trolls is to limit your reaction and not to respond to trolling messages.

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55972
3282. Patrap
The Pacific Basin has 3 Invest Zones.

East, or 90E

Central, for 90C


And Western for 90W
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I predict that this blog will tremble and crumble under the extreme weight of 7000+ comments somewhere around Mid Aug/Early Sept.
Do I hear higher? Lower?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
AEW
MARK
XXN/XXW


Thats a very impressive tropical wave. It appears to have some mid-level circulation with it. I'll be watching this one across the Atlantic.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3279. BDAwx
dew points at my place at in the mid 70s. but the temperature is hovering around 80. thank god for the ocean or else we would be in the nineties :o

we could still use some good rain...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3278. Drakoen
And bad subject-verb agreement...
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30813
This wave over 37˚W could result in possible tropical mischief down the road when it reaches the Caribbean or eastern Pacific.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
456 could this be what the GFS ensemble model was hitting on earlier yesterday?
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3274. Drakoen
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Drakeon what is your forecast this season.You still think it will be active to hyperactive??


My forecast is located in my most recent blog.

Blog
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30813
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


Invests go from 90 to 99. When they get past 99, they simply go back to 90. The L means that the Invest is located in the Atlantic, while the E means that the Invest is located in the Pacific.


So what determines an invest? Obviously I am a beginner. :)
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3272. beell
Wiki has a fairly clear definition of investigation (INVEST) numbering.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3271. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)


we got give this another 12 to 14 hrs over the water to see what spins up if anything
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55972
3270. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Wow, that's considered "extremely high" and can cause death to people with asthma. I learned that in 4th grade. lol.


I don't remember the dew point reaching 79 last summer. It's a PWS, not official. It feels that humid out there.

I thought about how I would hate to get hit by a major cane and suffer without AC in this.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
3267. Makoto1
Did I just end up starting a local weather comparison day? rofl

Anyway I'm amazed at this wave now coming off of Africa... Dare I say it looks better than the last?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The season will be expressing its presence later this week. Wave near 35W reaches the Leeward Islands with moisture. The wave in figure 9 on my blog over the Nigeria develops a circulation as it emerges around Friday/Saturday.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Nice flare of convection over Panama.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
3263. pottery
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Invest numbers range from 90L-99L and once they reach 99L go back to 90L.

...in the Atlantic basin.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24871
3259. Drakoen
Quoting TropicalWave:


????, what are you talking about? everyone needs to have dental consultation once in a while, not mattering whether you have rotten teeth or an impeccably white, and healthy smile, or else otehrwise, you run the risk of growing cavities, which normal humans cannot detect; however, dentists and dental assistants can, on the otehr one. The ADS says its mandatory. it sadens me to see, how only because you claim to have perfect teeth, that should automatically exempts you from having to go to the dentist.


Such bad syntax...
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30813
3258. pottery
Quoting Grothar:


aspectre always gets me, pot. Guess its time to retire when the youngsters on here outwit me. LOL Hurricane09 does a pretty good job, too! atmo doesn't count, he is just witty all the time, can never get anything past him.

Yeah, it's kind of worrisome, when the Youngsters start one-upping us.
Luckily for them, they are all to far away for us to give them a good Clout about the head. Just because...
heheheheh
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24871
Quoting minorLeague:
Can someone out there explain the numbering convention for Invests? Are they always 90 or 91? Why do they sometimes have a letter (90L)? I've done a little searching but couldn't find an explanation.
Invest numbers range from 90L-99L and once they reach 99L go back to 90L.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
3256. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
AEW
MARK
XXN/XXW
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55972

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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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