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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2456. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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If a tornado strikes Peoria, many lives are at stake. That Image is from the NWS!
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
2454. Grothar
Quoting atmoaggie:
Gro was present for the labor day cane in '35...


Close, the first vivid memory I have of a hurricane was in 1948 in Hollywood , FL. I remember our neighbors taking us around by boat, there was such flooding.
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2453. hydrus
Quoting atmoaggie:
Gro was present for the labor day cane in '35...
And anyone that lived to talk about it was blessed.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20505
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
So he's older than 75, wow.

(I don't really know that...)
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Gro was present for the labor day cane in '35...
So he's older than 75, wow.
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Quoting MrstormX:


No Emily's this year?
I think Emily was a one of a kind hurricane (among many "one of a kind" in 2005) and I don't think we will see a category 5 hurricane in mid July for a long time.
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Quoting Levi32:
The gulf has warmed up so much they already had to shift the color scale way up.

Yesterday:



Today:



Or the color scale is likely dynamic, based on the values in the plot (most code I write is). Clearly errors in there...would have caused my code to do just that (if I didn't write in checks to not consider the errors)
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Quoting Levi32:


The probability of even having one in any given year is already so low it's impossible to say when. I do think we have a well-above normal chance of having one or more Cat 5s this year due to all the warm water, but the best I can do is say that they are most likely in August and September when the water is warmest, and when the most intense hurricanes occur.



No Emily's this year?
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting Levi32:
The gulf has warmed up so much they already had to shift the color scale way up.

Yesterday:



Today:


Damn! Is this due to ridging in the plains?
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2444. xcool
I expect to see a very busy July.
imo
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Gro was present for the labor day cane in '35...
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Quoting Grothar:


Let me put it this way; the first time I saw Betty White she was 26 years old. You figure it out.
No for real tell me, You always say you're so old and I don't believe it.
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damage reports coming in across Iowa and Illinois.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
2440. Levi32
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:
Levi, when do you believe our first Category 5 hurricane will be?


The probability of even having one in any given year is already so low it's impossible to say when. I do think we have a well-above normal chance of having one or more Cat 5s this year due to all the warm water, but the best I can do is say that they are most likely in August and September when the water is warmest, and when the most intense hurricanes occur.

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Quoting hydrus:
Grother use to stroll Jerusalem with Jesus.
LMAO, no for real.
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2438. Grothar
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Grothar how old are you?


Let me put it this way; the first time I saw Betty White she was 26 years old. You figure it out.
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
I so agree the weather channel is crap.I don't know if it's been discussed but I think wunderground would make a nice replacement channel.Don't you guys think?


Yes we need to commission masters to make the "wunderchannel"
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436

No Development Over the Weekend
Jun 5, 2010 5:10 PM

The Atlantic basin looks to remain quite, at least into the beginning of next week. There are several very weak waves well to the south, around 10 north. Looking out over the next few days, there looks to be no development with any of these waves. The Gulf and the Caribbean will remain relatively inactive outside of typical daytime thunderstorm activity.

By AccuWeather.com Meteorologists Adam Douty and Andy Mussoline
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2435. Levi32
The gulf has warmed up so much they already had to shift the color scale way up.

Yesterday:



Today:


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2433. hydrus
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Grothar how old are you?
Grother use to stroll Jerusalem with Jesus.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20505
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
2430. xcool
5 June 2010 Tropical Weather Analysis
The North Atlantic is still fairly quiet today. The intense area of convection over Mexico mentioned in the analysis last night has decayed due to unfavorable environmental conditions as expected, and is now just a broad area of clouds in the southern Gulf of Mexico. However, there is an interesting disturbance forming in the open Atlantic at about 20 N and 55 W. This disturbance is developing in response to an upper-level shortwave trough, which is creating an area favorable for vorticity generation through forcing low-level convergence and upper-level divergence. Currently, a broad area of high clouds intermixed with convection is present across the region. There is alot of wind shear and dry air in the region associated with the trough itself, but the GFS computer model is suggesting that a low should form soon. The model is also suggesting that the low may be sub-tropical, but we will have to wait and see what actually happens. I'm skeptical since the processes forming the low aren't too different than those that form winter storms. Regardless, the disturbance is far from land and forecast to remain out at sea as it heads northward, making it only a concern for transatlantic shipping lanes.


by Hurricane Warning
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
2428. Levi32
Quoting Grothar:


kuppen, Wie geht's? I was at the beach in Ft. Lauderdale and couldn't believe how warm the water was. I don't remember it being this warm this early.


Coming from you, that's pretty scary.
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2427. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


C'est ça.
vous faire parle du français
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2426. Grothar
Quoting hydrus:
you will live to a ripe old age Gro. ;)


Thanks hydrus, but I already have!!!!
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2425. hydrus
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Could Ontario get a 1954 Hazel-repeat?
Eventually. My Dad remembers Hazel, He never sez much, but He did say it was really bad.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20505
2424. Grothar
Quoting kuppenskup:
Guys, I was at Pompano Beach today here in Fla. Honestly there wasnt much of a difference between the temperature of the water and the land temperature. Maybe 10 degrees tops. All I can say if a developed storm hit's the Gulfstream that baby's gonna strengthen fast!


kuppen, Wie geht's? I was at the beach in Ft. Lauderdale and couldn't believe how warm the water was. I don't remember it being this warm this early.
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Quoting Grothar:


Levi, at my age I count things in minutes. 264 hours is beyond my comprehension. I don't even watch TV series in two parts anymore. Afraid I'll never get to see the ending.

Told y'all he was good and ripe...
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Grothar how old are you?
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2421. xcool
strong tropical wave Africa
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
2420. Levi32
Quoting Grothar:


Yes, Levi, that is why a few months ago, I posted that we would get 22-15-5. You all know I am not a wishcaster, but if one were to take all of the conditions we have at the present, it is no wonder most of the weather services have published such high figures. I believe it is likely we see our first storm before the end of the month.


I definitely share your concern.
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2419. hydrus
Quoting Grothar:


Levi, at my age I count things in minutes. 264 hours is beyond my comprehension. I don't even watch TV series in two parts anymore. Afraid I'll never get to see the ending.
you will live to a ripe old age Gro. ;)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20505
Okay im done with TWC forever, instead of covering the tornado outbreak they are playing some sh**y show with hippies talking about Hurricane Bill, and there are still 2 more hours of them. Actually they have been doing storm stories reruns as well the past 2 hours so thats 4 hours straight of crap. Im calling and making a complaint.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting firematt255:
Thanks i live in Houma, La nice to know this is just a rain maker we dont need anymore trouble right now.


Is Hialeah the female equivalent of Houma?
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2416. Grothar
Quoting Levi32:


Well then, this year should put you back a few years young!


Yes, Levi, that is why a few months ago, I posted that we would get 22-15-5. You all know I am not a wishcaster, but if one were to take all of the conditions we have at the present, it is no wonder most of the weather services have published such high figures. I believe it is likely we see our first storm before the end of the month.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
is that the 264 hr run 364 hr run


C'est ça.
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2414. SQUAWK
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Quoting Levi32:


A low associated with an amplified upper trough above it, which if it had more time would be a subtropical concern, but it is going to be picked up by a passing longwave trough shortly after that frame.
Thanks i live in Houma, La nice to know this is just a rain maker we dont need anymore trouble right now.
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Quoting hydrus:
Don,t leave out 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950. there was one in 1946 that hit Sarasota as a cat-0ne. they lucked out because the storm weakened before it hit land. 1947 and 1948 were very bad because South Florida experienced two landfalling hurricanes in quick succession in both those years, causing catastophic flooding. some areas were flooded for over two months. The 1949 (treasure Coast) hurricane was very powerful hurricane with 150 mph winds. The damage was severe, but much of the region was still ravaged from the previous storms. Hence monetary damages were not as high as would be expected. 1950 had Easy and King. They were both strong storms. The old timers of the Cedar Key area back then said Easy was the worst storm in 70 years. King closely resembled 1964,s Cleo. The 1928 Hurricane you posted about was one of the most powerful hurricanes ever.


Could Ontario get a 1954 Hazel-repeat?
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Quoting TampaSpin:
You all gotta love BP and our Governments math. The claim was when they cut the Riser off there would be about a 20% gain in oil coming out........So that would be 120%......if you now assume they are capturing 30% of what is coming out as they say that would then mean that 92.30% is stil coming out from the the extra 20% they increased it by from when the Riser was cut....they are collecting 8% of 18,000 barrels or 16,560 barrels is still coming out in 24hours.....simple math.....its not really 30% as they say from what it was days ago.


BP claims to have collected 6077 barrels of crude in the last 24 hrs, which seems to be about a third of what BP (and you) say is coming out.
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Guys, I was at Pompano Beach today here in Fla. Honestly there wasnt much of a difference between the temperature of the water and the land temperature. Maybe 10 degrees tops. All I can say if a developed storm hit's the Gulfstream that baby's gonna strengthen fast!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2409. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting AstroHurricane001:
Wow, GFS predicts a storm to track through the 29C+ warm Caribbean, into the equally warm Gulf and to a landfall in Alabama!
is that the 264 hr run 364 hr run
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Nice hook echo near Elmwood, IL.
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2407. hydrus
Quoting BahaHurican:
Evening everyone. One of the most interesting stories my grandmother used to tell us as we were growing up was about the 1928 hurricane, which passed directly over North End Long Island and killed one of her sisters, and, indirectly, her mother. My grandmother was a young girl at the time, but she remembers storm water standing in the yard of her father's house half-way up the hillside (the hills there are the highest on the island, between 70 and 90 feet tall). One of her uncles went outside during the passage of the eye to secure a loose celler door and was trapped when the storm re-commenced. He survived because he crawled to shelter in the lee of one of the rock boundary walls, which later fell on him, anchoring him to the ground.

This was the storm that later caused the Okeechobee disaster. It was cat 4, large, and slow-moving. Many settlements in the Bahamas were devastated, and hundreds, particularly fishermen, lost their lives.

I think there was some lineup of conditions globally that made bad storms between 1925 and 1945 worse than usual. Not sure how one would prove that, however.
Don,t leave out 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950. there was one in 1946 that hit Sarasota as a cat-0ne. they lucked out because the storm weakened before it hit land. 1947 and 1948 were very bad because South Florida experienced two landfalling hurricanes in quick succession in both those years, causing catastophic flooding. some areas were flooded for over two months. The 1949 (treasure Coast) hurricane was very powerful hurricane with 150 mph winds. The damage was severe, but much of the region was still ravaged from the previous storms. Hence monetary damages were not as high as would be expected. 1950 had Easy and King. They were both strong storms. The old timers of the Cedar Key area back then said Easy was the worst storm in 70 years. King closely resembled 1964,s Cleo. The 1928 Hurricane you posted about was one of the most powerful hurricanes ever.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20505
2406. Levi32
Quoting BahaHurican:
Levi,

In the Caribbean seems like a really likely scenario for it, too, given the current high setup. Kinda scary to think we could have a serious storm in the basin before the end of the month, but even if this one doesn't pop, the possibility for another is still greater than usual....


Yes, the Caribbean is the most climatologically likely place for our first storm to occur, and even if we have a blank June, July will likely see the real kick-off.
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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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