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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3206. beell
Quoting Weather456:
Image to go with post 3189

Max Div - Maximum divergence


Nice post, 456.
A continental forecaster might call it a deformation zone instead of a col. Same difference-or same divergence, lol.
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3155 Grothar "Not everyone is familiar with geography. More than once, when I have told people I lived in Norway, they have asked if that was in Europe."

Hard to believe. Everybody knows that Norway is just across the RainbowBridge from Asgard. And it's one heck of a long walk from Asgard to Europe.
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3204. pottery
Quoting Patrap:



Seems either someone took the info posted a few weeks back,with the Google Map and Location and ,..

Well..it was very gone when we arrived yesterday.

Or the RR folks removed it.

I should have snatched it up when I found it late April.

Ah, Procrastination sux!
But have a great day...
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3203. Patrap
NEXRAD Radar
New Orleans, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 248 NMI


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Quoting Patrap:



Seems either someone took the info posted a few weeks back,with the Google Map and Location and ,..

Well..it was very gone when we arrived yesterday.

Or the RR folks removed it.

I should have snatched it up when I found it late April.

Back for a moment...

It was me. I put it in the garden in the front yard next to the gnome.
(j/k)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Quoting AllStar17:
You need to teach me how to make those graphics, they are really cool. And I promise you I won't post them on the blog. lol.
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3198. Patrap
GOM IR Loop

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Image to go with post 3189

Max Div - Maximum divergence
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3196. scott39
Quoting Weather456:


I am monitoring the area because it has a classic trough-ridge pattern that we typical see with early season storms. I do not know if you remember I posted some composites late week.

It's proximity to the land gives me reason to give it a low chance.
Thanks, I dont know if my untrained eye is playing tricks on me or not, because on the visible Sat it looks like it has some counter clockwise spin to it.
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3195. Patrap
Quoting pottery:
Morning, Pat.
Did you retrieve your Ball?



Seems either someone took the info posted a few weeks back,with the Google Map and Location and ,..

Well..it was very gone when we arrived yesterday.

Or the RR folks removed it.

I should have snatched it up when I found it late April.
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Quoting bappit:


It is also interesting that the shading indicates a .004 to .006 probability on the Atlantic side. The east Pacific looks more interesting.
None the less it's an area to watch. And don't think of it by the numbers think of it by the colors, that's what StormW always says.
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Current AOI's

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3192. bappit
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Interesting...We have shading over a wave in the Atlantic. We also have shading over the AOI over the GOM.



It is also interesting that the shading indicates a .004 to .006 probability on the Atlantic side. The east Pacific looks more interesting.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Ohhh, I would love a dewpoint at 64, much less 54...

My low for Tues currently forecasted by the NWS is 79...you know what that means...dewpoint of 79! The act of drying off after a shower is a sweaty endeavor.

Really leaving now..


Updated at 01:40 EST

Currently at Homebush Olympic site, Sydney,Australia
Temperature 49.1°F falling
Dew Point 42.8°F falling
Feels Like 49.1°F
Relative Humidity 79%
Wind
Wind Gusts -
Pressure -
Fire Danger -
Rain since 9am/last hr 3.0mm / -
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3190. pottery
Morning, Pat.
Did you retrieve your Ball?
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Quoting scott39:
456, Thanks for the education on African Waves. Is there any potential for tropical developement with that storm in the GOM at about 93W 26N?


I am monitoring the area because it has a classic trough-ridge pattern that we typical see with early season storms. I do not know if you remember I posted some composites late week.

It's proximity to the land gives me reason to give it a low chance.
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3188. Makoto1
Quoting Weather456:


Well MJO enhances and suppresses TC activity, it does not completely stop them. Also we may not always rely on the MJO for cyclogenesis this year. Warm SST is also an upward force.


Maybe I phrased that wrong... I was thinking more like that this would be the most likely spot for development during that time.
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Quoting Makoto1:


So from this I take we should keep a close eye on the SW Caribbean despite the later in the month MJO change? I didn't know it wouldn't affect that area as much.


Well MJO enhances and suppresses TC activity, it does not completely stop them. Also we may not always rely on the MJO for cyclogenesis this year. Warm SST is also an upward force.
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3186. Drakoen
Quoting bappit:


In what way does it impress you?


The amplitude of the wave. A lot of convection and vorticity.
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3185. Patrap

A Seasonal must have link.


WAVETRAK - Northern Atlantic Sector
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3183. bappit
Quoting gator23:


Yea but we both know this happens every year. Lotsa trolls


If you know someone is trolling, ignore them. Don't inflict it on us again.
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Anyone know what they are lowering that is shown on Viking Poseidon – ROV 1?
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Interesting...We have shading over a wave in the Atlantic. We also have shading over the AOI over the GOM.

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Quoting msgambler:
re 3166: Morning Orca, You can probably get a trip down here pretty dang cheap to from what we hear.


I hate to say it, but we probably will not even go the GOM this year. I know that sounds bad, but I know a lot of people who are doing the same. The tourist dollars are going to go else where big time.
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3179. Makoto1
Quoting Weather456:


The extreme ocean heat content over the NW Caribbean during Oct and Nov. The intensity of Ida was more the result.


So from this I take we should keep a close eye on the SW Caribbean despite the later in the month MJO change? I didn't know it wouldn't affect that area as much.
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3178. Patrap
Quoting msgambler:
re 3166: Morning Orca, You can probably get a trip down here pretty dang cheap to from what we hear.



Beau Rivage has a Good deal Mon-Friday..and Thurs thru Sunday,in Biloxi.

Im trying to get a July weekend booked msgambler.
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3177. bappit
Quoting Drakoen:
Impressive tropical wave off the coast of Africa:



In what way does it impress you?
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Quoting Makoto1:


Agreed, here we didn't get any tornadoes but damaging wind gusts are a problem as well.

On the plus side, expect a huge drop in humidity after the front passes, our dew point dropped from 73 to 54 in about 6 hours.

Ohhh, I would love a dewpoint at 64, much less 54...

My low for Tues currently forecasted by the NWS is 79...you know what that means...dewpoint of 79! The act of drying off after a shower is a sweaty endeavor.

Really leaving now..
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Quoting Weather456:


Thanks to you and everyone else that visited my blog. I hope next weekend the tropics remain quiet so I can post the final part 2.


I hope so too!
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3173. bappit
Quoting Weather456:
Good Morning

As predicted a strong tropical wave is emerging off the coast of Africa as we speak. It is right on schuedule for my lastest blog entry which is part 1 of tracking tropical waves and how to identify them over Africa. It also discusses briefly waves over the ocean using the one near 35W.

Tracking African Easterly Waves: Genesis


Continuity?
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3172. scott39
Quoting Weather456:


Thanks to you and everyone else that visited my blog. I hope next weekend the tropics remain quiet so I can post the final part 2.
456, Thanks for the education on African Waves. Is there any potential for tropical developement with that storm in the GOM at about 93W 26N?
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Quoting TropicalWave:


Bro, dont waste your breath with individuals of that calibor, they're trolls. G'morning, all.



Don't know if this was in response to my post but, I wasn't calling this season a bust at all. Just pointing out the facts is all. I realize June is a rather quiet month and didn't think the post would cause this much backlash, lol, it wasn't my intention. With the numbers predicted, any day without a storm is a great day, that was my intention as I was sharing my joy of no storms in the basin yet, nothing more, nothing less.
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3170. bappit
Quoting germemiguel:
hello, excuse my english I'm french from Martinique ;-)

the tropical wave located about 31-32W will have to be strong because there is a large pocket of dry air to its north west ....

If she ever gets a turn more seriously dry air will probably kill its storms

http://img249.imageshack.us/img249/2338/m8wvmid.jpg




Good point.

It is still way early in the season.
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re 3166: Morning Orca, You can probably get a trip down here pretty dang cheap to from what we hear.
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Quoting MrstormX:


Ida?


The extreme ocean heat content over the NW Caribbean during Oct and Nov. The intensity of Ida was more the result.
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Quoting Drakoen:


If we get waves that come off higher than 15N i'm not so sure too many people will be concerned with them...lol.
Yeah. Guaranteed recurver...
Quoting Drakoen:
Assuming the ITCZ advects anomalously further north due to a cool Gulf of Guinea which could in turn focus the heat further north.
Yeah, kinda figuring on that, myself.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Wow, they have ramped up the advertising for the Gulf states.....

I just saw a commercial for vacationing in Mississippi, That is a first.
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Quoting Weather456:
Unfortunately, positive and negative NAO has no effect over the NW Caribbean. A positive NAO creates stronger trades which piles up water and cause down-welling (which is a warming process). Similar to what we saw at the end of 2009.


Ida?
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
3163. Drakoen
Quoting atmoaggie:

But those higher latitude SSTs are the ones that have come more into line with climatology since the end of April thanks to the easterlies. What mechanism are you expecting to continue to warm into latitudes further north (as in the 14N to 18N range), relative to 2005? (obviously besides the effect of Boreal summer)


If we get waves that come off higher than 15N i'm not so sure too many people will be concerned with them...lol. The region between 10N and 16N is most concerning. The EUROSIP multi-model forecast illustrates that:




Assuming the ITCZ advects anomalously further north due to a cool Gulf of Guinea which could in turn focus the heat further north. With a weak A/B high we can continue to warming in the EATL as well.
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Quoting weather42009:


I was wondering about the vegetation area. It also forms a gradient as you mentioned. Once again, superb update!


Thanks to you and everyone else that visited my blog. I hope next weekend the tropics remain quiet so I can post the final part 2.
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Unfortunately, positive and negative NAO has no effect over the NW Caribbean. A positive NAO creates stronger trades which piles up water and cause down-welling (which is a warming process). Similar to what we saw at the end of 2009.
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3160. Makoto1
Quoting MrstormX:
NY needs to be ready, if things pop again like yesterday anything can happen.


Agreed, here we didn't get any tornadoes but damaging wind gusts are a problem as well.

On the plus side, expect a huge drop in humidity after the front passes, our dew point dropped from 73 to 54 in about 6 hours.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Anyone know if the ECMWF NAO forecast is any good?


That would be great!

L8R, y'all.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
wave at 35W is in a weak shear environment and showing a moderate 850mb vorticity
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Quoting Grothar:


No they don't. I use them as a point of reference for people. Not everyone is familiar with geography. More than once, when I have told people I lived in Norway, they have asked if that was in Europe. Just trying to help out. LOL
LOL, no problem.
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Anyone know if the ECMWF NAO forecast is any good?

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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.