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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2956. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
night, Makoto
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2955. Makoto1
Well, that was an interesting conversation, but I really should try to sleep. Night.
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2954. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Meteo France sort of handles the Eastern Atlantic near Africa.
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2953. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
I can't remember if CMA uses 2 or 3 minute sustained winds average.
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2952. Makoto1
I do wonder why there's just so many of them out there, however. I mean in the Atlantic there's just the NHC (and there's technically Cuba but it doesn't do much).
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2951. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
ya and the intensity is different as well.

CMA (China Meteorological Administration) advisory would be higher 10 minute sustained winds scale but lower than JTWC intensity.
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
Haha

and I forgot Korea.


and Hong Kong...
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Wow, I am glad the Atlantic basin isn't confusing like the W-Pac, otherwise we North Carolinians would be confused during the season. I guess in the W-Pac, you follow what your agency tells you depending on which nation you live in.
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2948. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
and ya Philippines renames them if they are in their area of responsibility, though they still keep the original name.
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2947. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan names the systems.
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2946. Makoto1
Quoting NCHurricane2009:
In a basin like the W-Pac, I think there is only one list of names. So, who controls when a tropical cyclone gets named from the W-Pac list?


Japan does in this case, though the Philippines has its own list for their people.
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In a basin like the W-Pac, I think there is only one list of names. So, who controls when a tropical cyclone gets named from the W-Pac list?
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2943. Makoto1
Okay, so basically whichever way you slice it we have two different views on Phet.

The WPac is insane, lol.

Don't forget how the area between 90E and 160E in the southern hemisphere is broken up. Indonesia, Australia (with multiple places there), and Papua New Guinea.

CPac is technically CPHC in Honolulu.
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2942. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Haha

and I forgot Korea.
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
oh there are so many agencies in the WPAC =P

Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Guam (NWS), Japan, Philippines, Thailand. =P


Ah yeah, I forgot about PAGASA, too.
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2940. xcool
TropicalWave lol
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2939. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
oh there are so many agencies in the WPAC =P

Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Guam (NWS), Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Korea. =P
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2938. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
It was a deep depression at around 21:00 PM UTC.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Its interesting how there are so many agencies covering the same areas in the Pacific, while there is only one agency (the NHC) for the Atlantic:

E-pac and C-Pac: NHC & JTWC
W-Pac: JTWC
Indian Ocean: JTWC & India
South Pacific: Austrailia & JTWC

LOL, JTWC is involved everywhere, why don't they might as well start doing Atlantic!


You forgot JMA.
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Quoting Makoto1:
Well, India seems to only use satellite for intensity, while JTWC has a few other methods, at least that's how I was told. IMD is usually a bit lower in intensity as well. Hard to tell which is right in this case, however, as it looks like a depression, but there's data supporting it being slightly stronger.

IMD also uses a 3-minute sustained instead of 1-minute. Not sure what the exact conversion factor is but I know 40 knots at 1 minute is usually around 35 knots at 10 minutes. Again, really your pick, either way it's a weak and badly-sheared tropical cyclone that won't have nearly the effect that was expected on Pakistan and India as five days ago.

They are both from the same time considering the advisories we're comparing.


Its interesting how there are so many agencies covering the same areas in the Pacific, while there is only one agency (the NHC) for the Atlantic:

E-pac and C-Pac: NHC & JTWC
W-Pac: JTWC
Indian Ocean: JTWC & India
South Pacific: Austrailia & JTWC

LOL, JTWC is involved everywhere, why don't they might as well start doing Atlantic!
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2934. xcool
me to bye rob
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2933. Makoto1
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
The IMD is more recent this time.

03:00 is the observed time from IMD
00:00 is the observed time from JTWC


All right, you're right there, my mind slipped past how the JTWC releases things 3 hours late. I think the comparison is still pretty valid considering the system seems to be holding steady, however. Was it a depression at 21:00 as well by the IMD?
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2931. xcool
TropicalWave you go miss fun
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2930. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Satellite data comparison

IMD: 06/0300 UTC 24.7N 64.7E - T1.5
SSD: 06/0230 UTC 23.4N 64.6E- T1.0/2.0
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2927. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
The IMD is more recent this time.

03:00 is the observed time from IMD
00:00 is the observed time from JTWC
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2926. xcool
Shear dropping at 30w &
roll.




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2925. xcool



look good
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2924. Makoto1
Well, India seems to only use satellite for intensity, while JTWC has a few other methods, at least that's how I was told. IMD is usually a bit lower in intensity as well. Hard to tell which is right in this case, however, as it looks like a depression, but there's data supporting it being slightly stronger.

IMD also uses a 3-minute sustained instead of 1-minute. Not sure what the exact conversion factor is but I know 40 knots at 1 minute is usually around 35 knots at 10 minutes. Again, really your pick, either way it's a weak and badly-sheared tropical cyclone that won't have nearly the effect that was expected on Pakistan and India as five days ago.

They are both from the same time considering the advisories we're comparing.
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2923. xcool


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Interesting,

I was looking at the advisory from India in post 2918, but it is interesting to see that the advisory from JTWC is keeping it above TD status still.

Its satellite appearance is so poor, I would be going with the advisory from India, or I wonder if the advisory from India is at a newer time than the one from JTWC.
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2921. Makoto1
JTWC has Phet at 40 knots, citing a Windsat image showing many 35-40 knot winds.
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'bout time Phet was downgraded to a TD, looked sick since this morning
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2919. xcool



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2918. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Advisory Number FORTY-FOUR
DEPRESSION, FORMER PHET (ARB02-2010)
8:30 AM IST June 6 2010
=======================================

At 3:00 AM UTC, Depression, Former TC Phet over northwest Arabian Sea off Makaran coast moved further eastwards and lays centered over northeast Arabian Sea near 24.5N 65.0E, or 200 km west-southwest of Karachi, Pakistan and 400 km northwest of Naliya, Gujarat.

The system would weaken and move east northeastwards and cross Pakistan coast close to Karachi as a weak system by this evening/night (IST).
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2917. Makoto1
240, and I'm not sure but I think that's vorticity from one of the two waves. Considering the time I'm guessing it's the one about to come off of Africa. Still way too far out to trust, but interesting nonetheless.

Edit: Looking closer, you're right... I was so focused on the Caribbean that I missed that everything else was messed up. Never mind about that feature then.
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Interesting to look at the last frames of the ecmwf, its colors seem to freak out at like at the last three frames? Can that late part of the model run be trusted?
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2915. xcool
Makoto1 .how many hrs??
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2914. Makoto1
Quoting xcool:
Link


new ecmwf


Interesting possible feature near the end just east of Trinidad and Tobago.
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2913. xcool
Link


new ecmwf
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That tropical wave currently mid-ocean is pretty nice, been watching it since it came off the coast of Africa around June 1. I don't think it has any potential right now, espcially toward the Lesser Antilles. Its heading toward a high shear environment from a mid-oceanic upper trough, maybe a western Caribbean development down the road after escaping shear, who knows.

These early waves though are pretty decent, a sign of an active tropical wave season ahead,
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2911. xcool
yeah & about go downhill soon No One's gonna like it.that's a fact
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Quoting xcool:
alex hi
Hey scott interesting times ahead
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Evening/early morning,

Although the tropical waves coming off of Africa are a litte impressive (and a sign of activity ahead), I think the more interesting feature tonight is the stuff in the eastern Gulf of Campeche/central Gulf of Mexico.

Everyday, it seems like it gives up, and then its convection blossoms over and over. Maybe it will persist as long as the cut-off upper low/trough near Texas continues to support it as it has been. Perhaps a weak tropical cyclone in the central Gulf of Mexico later this week?
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2908. xcool
alex hi
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2906. xcool


now wait on ecmwf
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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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