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 wouldn't rule out a micro burst in one of those Miami storms.
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2255. docrod
Quoting IKE:


It's probably not going to come true.



Hope it won't happen. I'll be in the Tortugas on a boat(working)that week. BTW - this is the second time I've seen you post the bp nightmare (few days ago with a different model). I'm watching those models too. Good luck up there with that damn oil. Please don't sent it here ;>)
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2254. hydrus
Quoting stormhank:
could someone help me understand the MJO charts u all show>> does the green over our area mean more condusive to storm formation or the orange shade???
Storm.W is a good person to ask about the M.J.O.
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Two what appear to be MesoCyclones on radar in the Hialeah and Sweetwater areas. But Miami is again getting nailed, would not be suprised to see that Flood warning they had posted last night posted again. That area can not handle anymore rain.
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SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT...RETRANSMITTED
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
701 PM EDT SAT JUN 5 2010

FLZ073-074-173-052345-
METROPOLITAN MIAMI DADE FL-INLAND MIAMI-DADE FL-COASTAL MIAMI-
DADE COUNTY FL-
701 PM EDT SAT JUN 5 2010

...A SIGNIFICANT WEATHER ADVISORY HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR NORTHEAST AND
EAST CENTRAL MIAMI-DADE COUNTY FOR FREQUENT TO EXCESSIVE
LIGHTNING...GUSTY WINDS FROM 45 T0 55 MPH...UP TO NICKEL-SIZED HAIL...

AT 653 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS HAVE DETECTED
STRONG THUNDERSTORMS ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM INTERSECTION KROME
AND U.S. 27 TO SWEETWATER TO 5 MILES NORTHWEST OF REDLAND...MOVING
EAST AT 5 TO 10 MPH.

THESE STORMS WILL AFFECT...

INTERSECTION KROME AND KENDALL DRIVE...
FIU SOUTH CAMPUS...
KENDALE LAKES...
TAMIAMI FAIRGROUNDS...
THE HAMMOCKS...
DORAL...

AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES.

FREQUENT TO EXCESSIVE LIGHTNING...GUSTY WINDS FROM 45 T0 55 MPH...UP
TO NICKEL-SIZED HAIL...TORRENTIAL DOWNPOURS...OR A COMBINATION OF
THESE ARE POSSIBLE. LIGHTNING IS THE NUMBER ONE WEATHER RELATED
KILLER IN FLORIDA. TREES AND OPEN SHELTERS OFFER NO PROTECTION. THESE
WINDS CAN DOWN SMALL TREE LIMBS AND BRANCHES...AND BLOW AROUND
UNSECURED SMALL OBJECTS. SEEK SHELTER IN A SAFE BUILDING UNTIL THE
STORM PASSES.

RESIDENTS NEAR THE PATH OF THESE STORMS SHOULD REMAIN ON THE ALERT
FOR ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO AND OTHER LOCAL MEDIA FOR FURTHER
DETAILS OR UPDATES.

LAT...LON 2595 8026 2578 8022 2553 8044 2555 8065
2580 8049 2595 8060
TIME...MOT...LOC 2257Z 270DEG 5KT 2594 8045 2577 8038
2558 8056

$$

BAXTER
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Quoting MrstormX:


NWS Miami Page - Link

Phone - 305-229-4522 (thats for the NWS Miami/not sure if it is for severe reports)

Amateur radio, local 911 (if tornado) and thats basically what I know. lol
Thanks! I have the website, Now I''m going to see how I can send them emails and stuff.
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Is there a way to search for something within previous blogs/comments? For example, if I wanted to learn about a specific topic, could I search for that and read back through posts relating to that topic?
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2249. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting plywoodstatenative:


Hurricanes if you pull up your radar on here. either the HD radar or Nexrad you will get an idea of what I mean. Storms popping up all over the place.
I'm using my iPhone right now so I can't post images. I'll be on my laptop on a few minutes.
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could someone help me understand the MJO charts u all show>> does the green over our area mean more condusive to storm formation or the orange shade???
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
He's J*V, he lives in Miami.


Hurricanes if you pull up your radar on here. either the HD radar or Nexrad you will get an idea of what I mean. Storms popping up all over the place.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
How to I report them? By email, phone, what?


NWS Miami Page - Link

Phone - 305-229-4522 (thats for the NWS Miami/not sure if it is for severe reports)

Amateur radio, local 911 (if tornado) and thats basically what I know. lol
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Because, whatever is forming, looks like its headed my way as well.
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Quoting plywoodstatenative:
Tropical wave, where are you located county wise?
He's J*V, he lives in Miami.
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Tropical wave, where are you located county wise?
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Quoting MrstormX:


Make sure to report any severe elements to your local NWS. Btw... how many of you guys are espotters?
How to I report them? By email, phone, what?
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2240. beell
Quoting plywoodstatenative:
The question is what could be going into Tx? There is truly nothing out there.


The Texas coast stays under the influence of a mid-level weakness between a ridge centered over Mexico and the subtropical ridge over the GOM. A SW/NE shear axis that closes off into a weak low and drifts back towards the coast. It will be a feature of our weather all through this next week. Until the zonal pattern changes with the approach of a strong trough and it finally lifts out.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Damn, really bad storms heading for me.


Make sure to report any severe elements to your local NWS. Btw... how many of you guys are espotters?
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2238. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


its coming for ya

Damn, really bad storms heading for me.
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2236. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting TropicalWave:
Drak low level ceilling clouds are begining to form here, I hope it's not the begining of a potential tornado coming about?


its coming for ya

<
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Quoting hydrus:
I was referring to the GFS model where the NOGAPS/FNMOC is located. It has it at 60 hours.


Ahh i'll have too look into that, but either scenario is feasible especially with that wave in the EPAC feeding moisture into the gulf.
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2233. hydrus
Quoting MrstormX:


Yes I have seen that particular one but it is at plus 36 rather than plus 60, the one 288 hours away is lol imo.

I was referring to the GFS model where the NOGAPS/FNMOC is located. It has it at 60 hours.
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Quoting IKE:
288 hour 18Z GFS is a BP nightmare...



Awww, Snap! What a mess that would be. Even if it doesn't come true, it's only a matter of time before something rolls through there. There is no way we will make it a whole season without a storm in the GOO.

I still don't know how to interpret these maps and images...what strength is that showing?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
a system 288 hrs out
lol
LOL.
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Quoting TropicalWave:
Yes, that's the storm, X.


Yes as you know I've been watching that particular vorticity since this morning. I believe StormW did an analysis of it too.
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Quoting hydrus:
The GFS also has a tropical storm going into Galveston in 60 hours, and a another one in the Atlantic.


Yes I have seen that particular one but it is at plus 36 rather than plus 60, the one 288 hours away is lol imo.

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
a system 288 hrs out
lol

Is that where the current blob near Midway Island is going?
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The question is what could be going into Tx? There is truly nothing out there.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
a system 288 hrs out
lol
Ohh crap...gotta go board up the winders....LOL
Member Since: February 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1125
2223. hydrus
The GFS also has a tropical storm going into Galveston in 60 hours, and a another one in the Atlantic.
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I will say this, 23 is true on his memories of Andrew and as well he is truly knowledgeable when it comes to storms. I trust him as much as I trust someone akin to Max mayfield.
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2221. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting MrstormX:


What are you refering too, so I can look it up.
a system 288 hrs out
lol
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Good evening everyone!
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Good evening all. I can see the Prozac will have to be handed out in plenty this year. I will stock up now.
Member Since: February 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1125
Quoting TropicalWave:
A GOM threater on the latest GFS run, but, we'll see, :(.


What are you refering too, so I can look it up.
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
read the advisory I posted and I think that the reason it shows it as extra topical is because they mentioned that at that advisory it was extra topical in nature

The TCR is the post-season analysis that becomes the official record for each storm.

From the report:
"Thereafter, Ida began to weaken as it moved over cool waters, and a new round of strong shear, associated with a short wave trough, removed the convection from the center. Ida then turned to the northeast and east, and became extratropical a few hours before it moved inland along the Alabama coast at 1200 UTC 10 November. However, because the cyclone had a large wind field, tropical-storm-force winds affected a portion of the northern Gulf of Mexico coast before Ida became extratropical."
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This is kinda long, but interesting nonetheless. They didn't categorize Andrew as a CAT 5 until 12 years after the event (I didn't know that!)

A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on August 14. Under the influence of a ridge of high pressure to its north, the wave tracked quickly westward. An area of convection developed along the wave axis to the south of the Cape Verde islands, and on August 15 meteorologists began classifying the system with the Dvorak technique. The thunderstorm activity became more concentrated, and narrow spiral rainbands developed around a developing center of circulation. On the basis of a Dvorak T-number of 2.0, it is estimated Tropical Depression Three developed late on August 16 about 1,630 miles (2,620 km) east-southeast of Barbados.[2]

Embedded within the deep easterlies, the depression tracked west northwestward at 20 miles per hour (32 km/h).[9] Initially, moderate wind shear prevented strengthening, though a decrease in shear allowed the depression to intensify into Tropical Storm Andrew at around 1200 UTC on August 17.[2] By early on August 18, the storm maintained concentrated convection near the center with spiral bands to its west as the winds increased to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).[10] Shortly thereafter the thunderstorms decreased markedly during the diurnal minimum,[11] and as the storm turned to the northwest increased southwesterly wind shear from an upper-level low prevented Andrew from maintaining deep convection.[2] On August 19, a Hurricane Hunters flight into the storm failed to locate a well-defined center,[12] and the next day a flight found that the cyclone had degenerated to the extent that only a diffuse low-level circulation center remained; observations indicated the pressure rose to an unusually high 1015 mbar. The flight indicated Andrew maintained a vigorous circulation aloft, with winds of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) recorded at flight level. Subsequently, the upper-level low weakened and split into a trough, which decreased the wind shear over the storm. Simultaneously, a strong high pressure cell developed over the southeastern United States, which built eastward and caused Andrew to turn to the west.[2] Convection became more organized as upper-level outflow became better established.[13] An eye formed, and Andrew attained hurricane status early on August 22 while located about 650 miles (1,050 km) east-southeast of Nassau, Bahamas.[2]

Six hours after becoming a hurricane, Andrew was predicted to make landfall near Jupiter, Florida with winds of 105 miles per hour (169 km/h).[14] The hurricane accelerated as it tracked due westward into an area of very favorable conditions, and late on August 22 began rapidly intensifying; in a 24 hour period the pressure dropped 47 mbar to a minimum pressure of 922 mbar.[2] On August 23 the cyclone attained Category 5 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, and at 1800 UTC Hurricane Andrew reached peak winds of 175 miles per hour (282 km/h) while located a short distance off Eleuthera island in the Bahamas.[15] Operationally, the National Hurricane Center assessed its peak intensity as 150 miles per hour (240 km/h),[16] which was upgraded to 155 miles per hour (249 km/h) in post-analysis; the hurricane was re-classified as a Category 5 hurricane twelve years subsequent to the hurricane.[15] A small tropical cyclone, winds of 35 miles per hour (56 km/h) extended out only about 90 miles (140 km) from its center.[17] Subsequent to peaking in intensity, the hurricane underwent an eyewall replacement cycle,[18] and at 2100 UTC on August 23, Hurricane Andrew struck Eleuthera with winds of 160 miles per hour (260 km/h).[15] The cyclone weakened further while crossing the Bahama Banks, and at 0100 UTC on August 24 Andrew hit the southern Berry Islands of the Bahamas with winds of 150 miles per hour (240 km/h).[15] As it crossed over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream in the Straits of Florida, the hurricane rapidly re-intensified as the eye decreased in size and its eyewall convection deepened.[2] At 0840 UTC on August 24, Andrew struck Elliott Key with winds of 165 miles per hour (266 km/h) and a pressure of 926 mbar.[15] The hurricane continued to strengthen up to and slightly after landfall, and 25 minutes after its first Florida landfall Andrew hit near Homestead with a slightly lower pressure and winds over 150 mph.[2]


(Needless to say, the warm water and rapid intensification cycle is what we have to worry about this year...)
Wiki Andrew
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2213. hydrus
Quoting hurricane23:


Terrifying night i was 15. I could imagine what is was like living here in 40's. 1 major every other year. Crazy
My Grandparents use to talk about the storms. They said that the flooding in the 20,s 30,s and 40,s was much worse than anything that occurred later. The 60,s had some flooding, but nothing like the earlier years.
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2211. IKE
Quoting CaneWarning:


It looks like a nightmare for everybody, not just BP!


It's probably not going to come true.

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
read the advisory I posted and I think that the reason it shows it as extra topical is because they mentioned that at that advisory it was extra topical in nature
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Even I, in my advanced years, can remember a few details about last November.

(though we did just do a wind analysis and WRF model hindcast run for Ida literally 3 days ago)


Yah it appears to have been an extra-tropical landfall, if that is the case then you just found another rare storm.
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Quoting IKE:
268 hour 18Z GFS is a BP nightmare...



It looks like a nightmare for everybody, not just BP!
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
Ida made landfall that image does not show the entire track for some reason

By wiki, as an extratrop cyclone:



Or if the criteria include any landfall before or after being a cane in the gulf, we then, clearly, Ida made landfall a couple of times.
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Quoting hurricane23:


Terrifying night. I was 15. I could imagine what is was like living here in 40's. 1 major every other year. Crazy


I was 11. I remember the eye coming over and hearing everyone screaming out for their neighbors. Not too many houses were left standing around us. Why anyone would actually wish for something like that is beyond me.
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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.