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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2906. xcool


now wait on ecmwf
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2905. xcool


LOW Wind Shear
30W


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2903. leo305
Quoting xcool:
i see yellow box come soon imo.rob .


it needs to develop a stronger circulation, and more convection for that.. plus move a little more to the north or it will slam to south america
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Quoting xcool:
i see yellow box come soon imo.rob .
Too early right now for a yellow box
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2901. Makoto1
Quoting Hurricanes101:


how amazing would it be if we actually got development out in the Atlantic in June lol

anyway time for bed, the tropics are currently sleeping, so I shall do the same


We have had 3 tropical depressions out in the Atlantic in June since 1967, so it's possible. Only one became a tropical storm, however. With the conditions out there I wouldn't be shocked if we got our fourth, though I'm not about to predict it either.
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2900. xcool
i see yellow box come soon imo.rob .
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Quoting TropicalWave:
you see
Yes i see but too early to be concerned just watch what happens
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2898. xcool
Levi32 4:23 AM GMT on June 06, 2010
GFS 18z developed the wave currently at 30W and had it as a catalyst for a tropical storm in the western Caribbean in 10 days. Still waiting for 0z run to get there
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Quoting xcool:



so gfs & ngp now cmc

Very strong tropical wave for this time of year.
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2894. xcool
lmao
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Quoting extreme236:
The models did do something similar when they forecasted Bertha's development a week before it actually happened (at least the GFS did).


how amazing would it be if we actually got development out in the Atlantic in June lol

anyway time for bed, the tropics are currently sleeping, so I shall do the same
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The models did do something similar when they forecasted Bertha's development a week before it actually happened (at least the GFS did).
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2891. xcool



so gfs & ngp now cmc

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2890. xcool
yeah :)
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2888. Makoto1
DIFFLUENCE ALOFT IS ENHANCING SCATTERED SHOWERS/ISOLATED
THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE E BAY OF CAMPECHE S OF 22N BETWEEN
89W-93W INCLUDING A PORTION OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA.

Doesn't look like that blob in the Bay of Campeche is impressing the NHC at all. No low pressure according to them anywhere near the area.
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2887. xcool
hey rob
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2886. xcool



shi]]]] big mom wave



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2884. xcool



ok wow

Levi32 good job

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2883. Makoto1
I find it amazing that tropical waves this early are actual areas of concern. Just shows how things might turn out this year... I might be mistaken, but I don't think any other models develop that wave that far east. It's worth watching just in case though. Conditions really are favorable for most of the way across the Atlantic outside of SAL in parts of the east and central Atlantic anyway.
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2882. xcool
i'm back..
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2881. Levi32
0z NOGAPS actually tries to develop the wave as it approaches the islands in 7 days, which is likely a bit too slow on arrival time, but still interesting.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
2880. xcool
brb
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2879. xcool
TropicalWave mail
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2877. xcool




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2876. Levi32
Quoting Hurricanes101:
basically the middle 10 days of June will see the Western Caribbean be ripe for development

the question that is to be determined is, will something be there to take advantage of it?


I think it's safe to say there will be at least a couple potent tropical waves traveling through the area during that period, so the question becomes not if something will be there to take advantage, but if it will take advantage.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
Quoting Hurricanes101:
which way is that anticyclone expected to go?


Far south with a peice breaking off and heading for the far Western GOM.

This will actually set up a highly unusual event whereas a late season front should move down the Florida Peninsula. All but southern Florida should get a taste of this for both Tuesday and Wednesday(albeit briefly)!

Don't expect cooler temps just lower dewpoints.

after that modals are diverged. The GFS wants another possible late season front while the Euro wants to built a center ridge right on top of central Florida. With complete convective inhibition(no seabreeze thunderstorms). Driving afternoon highs up to the upper 90's with 0% chances of rain!

Who ya gonna bet for?
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basically the middle 10 days of June will see the Western Caribbean be ripe for development

the question that is to be determined is, will something be there to take advantage of it?
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2873. xcool
not good.Levi32
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2872. Levi32
NAEFS also showing lowering pressures in the western Caribbean, illustrating the buildup of heat that should take place there between the 10th and 20th.

Tomorrow:



June 20th:




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2871. xcool
ngp show tropical wave off Africa to nextweek.
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2870. Levi32
The Canadian NAEFS ensemble is showing elevated precipitation in the western Caribbean from Days 7-15.

Day 7:



Day 14:


Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
2869. xcool
JUNE 11 LOL .MAY MAY BE .FIRST NAMES STORMS MMMM

TropicalWave DO YOU KNOW WHY I'M LOL


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2868. docrod
Quoting Drakoen:
GFS 00z doesn't have the system it had on its previous run in the long-range. At any rate, the EATL and southern Caribbean will need to be watched next week.


GFS has been jumping between two solutions for a while. Either way, I'm expecting rough seas in the Tortugas region mid-June.
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Quoting Drakoen:


Just watching, GFS indicating a very strong tropical wave to emerge. Water temperatures and upper level winds off the African coast will be conducive for development.


The question then becomes a matter of SAL.
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2866. xcool
Drakoen hey
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2865. Drakoen
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
The east Atlantic Drakoen? This early?


Just watching, GFS indicating a very strong tropical wave to emerge. Water temperatures and upper level winds off the African coast will be conducive for development.
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2863. Levi32
0z GFS takes the wave into the BOC and leaves low pressure behind over central America, no significant development.

Interesting though is the tropical wave in the central Atlantic that it takes northwestward away from the ITCZ. Another sign of an active and early train.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
2861. Levi32
Quoting Hurricanes101:


well tropical waves interact with other areas


Yeah that's usually all they are good for at this time of year. A storm like the 18z GFS though would be something special and a bad sign for the rest of the season.
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2860. Drakoen
GFS 00z doesn't have the system it had on its previous run in the long-range. At any rate, the EATL and southern Caribbean will need to be watched next week.
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Quoting Levi32:


Well most June storms don't originate directly from tropical waves, but some certainly do, and if you get a June development with roots in the African wave train, it's a sign of an active season to come. The downward MJO pulse coming into the area next week will probably make things more difficult, but the pattern is right for some mischief as these "upgraded", stronger waves start to pile into the Caribbean.


well tropical waves interacting with other areas is what I meant
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2857. Levi32
Quoting Hurricanes101:


we will see, it would be a scenario that often occurs in June.

I think some forget that even the developments in June mainly come from Tropical waves that roll of Africa, they just don't find ideal conditions until they get to the Caribbean


Well most June storms don't originate directly from tropical waves, but some certainly do, and if you get a June development with roots in the African wave train, it's a sign of an active season to come. The downward MJO pulse coming into the area next week will probably make things more difficult, but the pattern is right for some mischief as these "upgraded", stronger waves start to pile into the Caribbean.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
Based only on a cursory plot of storm damage and tornado reports the long-track tornado that moved thorugh northern Illinois may have covered a path up to 80 miles long.. the approximate distance from the first report near Lostant just east of I-39 in La Salle County to the last report near St. Anne in eastern Kankakee County.


Areas that were hit by the twister include
Lostant
Streator
Dwight
Buckingham
Herscher
St. Anne


National Weather Service storm survey team will determine how many twisters occured, how strong they ranke on the Enhanced Fujita scale and how long the damage paths were. The


So far there have been no reports of deaths or injuries but people were reported to have been trapped in their homes.
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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.