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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I knew Levi would hog #5000!
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5005. xcool
june 07 or june 17 frist names storms.hmm.i'm call .
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5004. Grothar
Quoting Levi32:


The wave over western Africa is going towards its diurnal minimum, but the one over the Atlantic is heading towards its diurnal maximum because it is over water. So far it is nothing particularly impressive, but if it lifts north out of the ITCZ like the GFS is forecasting, it may look better in coming days.


Actually, I was referring to the one over Africa, but I really do appreciate the clarification. But they both appear to be in some form of diurinal.
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Hi, id like thank you guys for the coverage on the severe weather last night, who were the bloggers active then, id like to thank them.
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Wow the Shear has simply tumbled too!
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5000. Levi32
Double-storms on the 0z NOGAPS. One in the southern Bay of Campeche which is less likely, and the other in the western Caribbean which I am pretty concerned about next week.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
I wanna be number 5000! LOL
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The Asain Stock Markets are tumbling downward really bad! LOok out Tomorrow on the DOW!
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


I heard Hialeah used to be called Baskerville.
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4996. xcool





Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
4995. Levi32
Quoting Grothar:


They don't look too impressive tonight, must be at their "diurinal" minimum


The wave over western Africa is going towards its diurnal minimum, but the one over the Atlantic is heading towards its diurnal maximum because it is over water. So far it is nothing particularly impressive, but if it lifts north out of the ITCZ like the GFS is forecasting, it may look better in coming days.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
4994. hydrus
Quoting atmoaggie:

WTH?
Sorry.....
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4993. Grothar


They don't look too impressive tonight, must be at their "diurinal" minimum
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Quoting Grothar:



Heard someone was really "Hounding" him.


I heard Hialeah used to be called Baskerville.
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LOL Grothar...No one even knows what we are talking about.
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I psychically predict that this blog will have it's 5,000th posting within the next 60-minutes. In my mind's eye, I see the number 5,000 and then a clock, but the time was somewhere between 1:00am - 2:00am EST.
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4989. emguy
Looking at those posts from the models...none too impressed with the reflection, especially the lopsided appearance of the convection and the weakening of the low in with time in the Gulf. Seen this before, that looks like a convective feedback "spurious low" to me. Fits the timeframe and fits the scenario. This baby looks like a no go for now.
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4988. Grothar
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
At least Professor Moriarty hasn't been on the blog for a while.



Heard someone was really "Hounding" him.
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4987. Grothar
" target="_blank">
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At least Professor Moriarty hasn't been on the blog for a while.
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4985. Grothar
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


That's Nigel Bruce to you.


Yes, Basil, sorry about that.
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Quoting Grothar:


Thank you Dr. Watson.


That's Nigel Bruce to you.
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This Hurricane Season seems like it will be Mighty Real:

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4982. Grothar
Quoting hydrus:
I also did not know that the faint square in my post means that there was suppose to be an image present . You deduced well. :)


Thank you Dr. Watson.
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4981. xcool
wow .
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting hydrus:
img src="Bookmarks%20Toolbar%20Most%20Visited%20http://www.wunderground.com/tropical/%20http://www.nhc.n oaa.gov/satellite.shtml%20http://www.google.com/firefox?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:o fficial%20http://www.nws.noaa.gov/radar_tab.php%20http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/%20http:/ /search.yahoo.com/search?fr=ytff1-&p=weather%20underground&ei=UTF-8&type=%20http://www.s pc.noaa.gov/%20http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/model_forecast/global_e.html%20http://www.weatheroffic e.gc.ca/model_forecast/animateweb_e.html?imagetype=model_forecast&imagename=00_054_G1_north@amer ica@zoomout_I_4PAN_CLASSIC@012_....jpg%20http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/index_cari b.shtml%20http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/central/%20http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/2/hi/defaul t.stm%20--------------------" alt=""

WTH?
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4979. Levi32
System stalls and weakens in the western gulf. Details such as this are pointless this far out. The mere fact that development is becoming more frequent on the model speaks to the concern we should have for next week.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
4978. hydrus
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4977. Levi32
Quoting ElConando:


Some trolls would purposely post large pictures on the blog in order to freeze it if memory serves.

similarly to that I also used to use I.E. for here but the blog always stretched with it so I use firefox. Which consequently sucks with facebook although the recent updates have made it easier.


Oh I've had people kill some of my old blogs doing that. Someone went to myspace.com, copied the entire source code and pasted it in my blog. The result was chaotic. I participated in a few mischievous events myself.....once me and atmosweather went into all the blogs that hadn't been updated in years and posted time capsules in them to bring them to the top of the blog. We both got emailed by admin to stop lol.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
4975. hydrus
Quoting Grothar:


When you said the big one, the first thing was Typhoon Tip. Lucky guess.
I also did not know that the faint square in my post means that there was suppose to be an image present . You deduced well. :)
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4974. Levi32
TUTT over the eastern Caribbean provides excellent ventilation of the western Caribbean.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
4973. Drakoen
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30562
Quoting Levi32:


I remember that. I was a lurker back then. I was most comfortable with a comment rate similar to what it is right now. A post every 5 seconds is too much for me to handle.


Some trolls would purposely post large pictures on the blog in order to freeze it if memory serves.

similarly to that I also used to use I.E. for here but the blog always stretched with it so I use firefox. Which consequently sucks with facebook although the recent updates have made it easier.
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4971. Levi32
Quoting Drakoen:


This is on the 00z


Ya I know. I posted that before the tropical storm appeared on the run. I was watching this run to see if the streak was finally broken. This is now the first 0z/12z run to show development.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Good evening all! Just a comment for Flweatherfreak91 the part of your comment about only certain comments being allowed just because something does not seem important to some does not always mean it does not help of inform someone else in some form. I'm not trying start an argument just put another side of opinion. There are alot of good people on this site that are taken very seriously by alot of folks and yes we (even the lurkers like myself) know who to put our trust into.
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4969. Levi32
0z GFS 228 hour...a 0z run finally shows development moving across the Yucatan into the gulf.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
4968. Drakoen
Quoting Levi32:


I'm still waiting for a 0z/12z run to show development. So far it has been all 6z/18z runs. For some reason in some of these situations there is a distinct difference where the two sets of runs consistently do something different day after day. Hard to imagine that a lack of 6z/18z soundings can cause that.


This is on the 00z
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30562
4967. Levi32
Quoting Drakoen:
GFS 00z showing a low pressure developing in the northwest Caribbean


I'm still waiting for a 0z/12z run to show development. So far it has been all 6z/18z runs. For some reason in some of these situations there is a distinct difference where the two sets of runs consistently do something different day after day. Hard to imagine that a lack of 6z/18z soundings can cause that.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
4966. Drakoen
Very strong system on the GFS 00z in the GOM
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30562
4965. Grothar
Quoting hydrus:
You created the psychic dome over me and read my brain.


When you said the big one, the first thing was Typhoon Tip. Lucky guess.
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4964. Levi32
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Back then, there were 44 comments. With hurricane Dennis 'deepening at a rate bordering on the insane' in the Gulf of Mexico according to the NHC discussion. And it took 36 hours to get 44 comments.


I remember that. I was a lurker back then. I was most comfortable with a comment rate similar to what it is right now. A post every 5 seconds is too much for me to handle.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


I remember when I brought up the global warming / hurricane question. I was the first to do so. That same blog entry also had the first 'wishcast' on it


I read that...WU history! It's also interesting how Dr. Masters has changed his phrasing during the years.
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4962. Drakoen
GFS 00z showing a low pressure developing in the northwest Caribbean
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30562
Quoting Drakoen:


It is a shame all the comments were wiped. Perhaps they did it for more space

Or, so many of them were embarrassing...
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4959. Motttt
Quoting hydrus:
Hurricane Charley. I went through the center of this powerful micro-cyclone.


I think we got a 1/2 inch of rain here in Sarasota from him
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Seems like everyone has bailed for the night. Y'all take it to 5,000 :)

Have a great night!
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
I think it would be appropriate to have each incoming comment reviewed by an admin at times of heavy blog traffic. Only pertinent posts would make it through.

It would be sort of like.... the blog 2 years ago.


They'd need an insane amount of mods for that.

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.