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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Quoting TampaSpin:


That was not a bad question....its not hard to figure out why some don't have good reputation on this blog.......its no wonder!
You need to calm down, it was just a misunderstanding by me and WPBHurricane05.
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


Good evening

...about the 1928 hurricane, which passed directly over North End Long Island ...Many settlements in the Bahamas were devastated, and hundreds, particularly fishermen, lost their lives.

and here in the Turks and Caicos also.
I've heard stories about folks tying themselves to trees...

yeah, and several dead pple were found up in trees; they had more difficulty getting the dead pigs, cows and horses down, though. That 1928 storm pretty much finished my younger grandfather as a "gentleman farmer"....
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2354. Levi32
Quoting FirstCoastMan:
levi32....Can u post the link for the 18z gfs...thanks


Link
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
2353. Levi32
Rotation is evident with the tropical wave along 30W in TPW (Total Precipitable Water) imagery:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
levi32....Can u post the link for the 18z gfs...thanks
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Quoting dsenecal2009:


Miami.
Not Miami, just south Florida in general.
Quoting CaneWarning:


I forget so much when things are quiet. I know about the stuff like the MJO, and Hebert boxes, but I forget the basics!
Lol, no problem.
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Pop Goes the Weasel!
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Quoting Levi32:
Just noticed the 18z GFS. It appears the tropical storm in the western Caribbean on this run is spawned by the wave I mentioned above.



I don't like the position of the High.
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2348. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting WPBHurricane05:


LOL!
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Are you serious? LOL!


That was not a bad question....its not hard to figure out why some don't have good reputation on this blog.......its no wonder!
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Quoting WPBHurricane05:


My bad. Thought it was a joke....a straight line rather than a wave or curvy line. No harm meant. :)
Yeah.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Oh since you are such a good blogger and are really respected by me I was thinking you were just being sarcastic.


I forget so much when things are quiet. I know about the stuff like the MJO, and Hebert boxes, but I forget the basics!
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2344. Levi32
Just noticed the 18z GFS. It appears the tropical storm in the western Caribbean on this run is spawned by the wave I mentioned above.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Quoting TropicalWave:


where would storms go inside of that type of a pattern, levi?


Miami.
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2342. JamesSA
Quoting TampaSpin:
Have you all seen the live feed from BP of the Q4000 ROV 1! What the dam hell is that! HOLLY CRAP! Is that sludge?
Probably the boatloads of drilling mud they pumped down there.
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Quoting CaneWarning:


I was being serious. Now I remember why I don't ask many questions!
Oh since you are such a good blogger and are really respected by me I was thinking you were just being sarcastic.
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Quoting WPBHurricane05:


My bad. Thought it was a joke....a straight line rather than a wave or curvy line. No harm meant. :)


It's cool. :)
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Quoting Levi32:


Don't worry about asking questions. Sometimes little things like that that we take for granted are not always fully understood by everybody.


I've been reading here for years and have somehow missed some of the basic stuff. Either that or I just forgot it! Thanks for answering.
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Baha...

1926 & 1928 both bad years down this way:



date wind cat. cpoa name
20 Nov 1921 46 ts 65 NOTNAMED
25 Sep 1923 52 ts 67 NOTNAMED
25 Jul 1926 127 h3 13 NOTNAMED
16 Sep 1926 150 h4 27 NOTNAMED
5 Aug 1928 46 ts 65 NOTNAMED
15 Sep 1928 155 h5 4 NOTNAMED


http://stormcarib.com/climatology/MBPV_dec_isl.htm
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Quoting CaneWarning:


Yes... was it really that bad of a question??? I mean I know that's the way they are shown on the map, but the question was why.


My bad. Thought it was a joke....a straight line rather than a wave or curvy line. No harm meant. :)
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Have you all seen the live feed from BP of the Q4000 ROV 1! What the dam hell is that! HOLLY CRAP! Is that sludge?


It's too depressing to watch.
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2335. Levi32
Quoting CaneWarning:


I was being serious. Now I remember why I don't ask many questions!


Don't worry about asking questions. Sometimes little things like that that we take for granted are not always fully understood by everybody.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Quoting Levi32:


The lines represent the axis of the tropical wave. They chose solid lines because dashed lines are for regular surface troughs, but tropical waves are not surface troughs.


Ok, that makes sense.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
He wasn't being serious Levi (well I don't think he was) Lol.


I was being serious. Now I remember why I don't ask many questions!
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Have you all seen the live feed from BP of the Q4000 ROV 1! What the dam hell is that! HOLLY CRAP! Is that sludge?
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Quoting CaneWarning:


Yes... was it really that bad of a question??? I mean I know that's the way they are shown on the map, but the question was why.
Lol, it kinda was.
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2329. Levi32
Quoting CaneWarning:


Yes... was it really that bad of a question??? I mean I know that's the way they are shown on the map, but the question was why.


The lines represent the axis of the tropical wave. They chose solid lines because dashed lines are for regular surface troughs, but tropical waves are not surface troughs.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Quoting Levi32:


They are usually slightly bowed (curved), but solid lines are how tropical waves are analyzed on surface maps.
He wasn't being serious Levi (well I don't think he was) Lol.
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Quoting Levi32:


They are usually slightly bowed (curved), but solid lines are how tropical waves are analyzed on surface maps.


Thanks, I've just always wondered why they showed them that way on the surface maps.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Are you serious? LOL!


Yes... was it really that bad of a question??? I mean I know that's the way they are shown on the map, but the question was why.
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Quoting CaneWarning:
Levi,

Why are waves shown as straight lines like that on the map?
Are you serious? LOL!
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2324. Levi32
Quoting CaneWarning:
Levi,

Why are waves shown as straight lines like that on the map?


They are usually slightly bowed (curved), but solid lines are how tropical waves are analyzed on surface maps.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
2323. Levi32
The GFS ensemble mean 500mb forecast shows persistent ridging and very warm temperatures remaining over the central-eastern United States over the next two weeks.

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Quoting CaneWarning:
Levi,

Why are waves shown as straight lines like that on the map?


LOL!
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2320. JamesSA
Quoting CaneWarning:
What about the Hebert Box? Sorry, I couldn't resist. :)
LOL! Isn't that a pinhole eye in that blob in the BOC? :)
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Quoting Levi32:


This is not dependent on the monsoon trough. It has two waves in front of it leading the way and will be piling up air in the Caribbean, plus the TUTT may be in a position to ventilate the area in 6-10 days. The heat buildup won't stop there either. If not this wave, there are others that could cause trouble between June 10th and June 20th, which is a period I will be watching closely in the Caribbean.

The GFS ensembles Day 12 precipitation illustrates the heat build-up that will be occurring in the western Caribbean, showing widespread heavy precip:

Thanks.
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2317. Levi32
Quoting FirstCoastMan:
levi32...how could that wave be catalyst for trouble down the road in the Caribbean?


It is going to be moving into an area of building heat in the western Caribbean, and the TUTT which is developing could be in a position to ventilate the area and spark some mischief. The TUTT could also do the opposite and inflict strong wind shear on the entire area, but 6-10 days out it's hard to know exactly how the upper winds will look. It is something to keep an eye on.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Levi,

Why are waves shown as straight lines like that on the map?
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we need rain now it;s so dry and I feel nearly dead
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


The second nights of blobs in the BOC.
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What about the Hebert Box? Sorry, I couldn't resist. :)
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2312. Levi32
Here's the wave in 3 days near 50W with two more waves leading the way into the Caribbean in front of it.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
2311. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting MrstormX:


There's a thunderstorm flaring right in the middle of the blob. Nobody except the GFS says anything will come of it. But I'll watch it anyway. :)
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2309. Levi32
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
If the monsoonal trough is still in place, it could.


This is not dependent on the monsoon trough. It has two waves in front of it leading the way and will be piling up air in the Caribbean, plus the TUTT may be in a position to ventilate the area in 6-10 days. The heat buildup won't stop there either. If not this wave, there are others that could cause trouble between June 10th and June 20th, which is a period I will be watching closely in the Caribbean.

The GFS ensembles Day 12 precipitation illustrates the heat build-up that will be occurring in the western Caribbean, showing widespread heavy precip:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
levi32...how could that wave be catalyst for trouble down the road in the Caribbean?
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Interesting storm near Abingdon

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whens the next MJO upward phase suppose to be in our area??
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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.