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 atmoaggie:

Enough for marine warnings...wouldn't surprise if the Causeway were closed, atm, too.

No nado threat, just the typical T-storms...*can* push some winds, not likely of the severe variety, atm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1955. pottery
Quoting Drakoen:
A strong tropical wave is located over Western Africa:


Stronger that the others we have seen?
There is plenty dry air north and west of it too.
I will watch it though..
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24398
Quoting IKE:


I don't want anyone to get hit.....including him. There's been enough heartache in the world lately and most of it continues....earthquake recovery...tornadoes...floods...oil volcano.
I agree Ike. Great post.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Wow! It's pouring at my house.
Member Since: September 14, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 283
1952. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Lol, the sad part is that he lives in the same city as me so if he gets a hurricane I get a hurricane, and if he loses electricity I lose electricity (sigh) lol.


I don't want anyone to get hit.....including him. There's been enough heartache in the world lately and most of it continues....earthquake recovery...tornadoes...floods...oil volcano.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting atmoaggie:

you got some fairly heave stuff building over the lake to your SW...coming right at you.

Enough for marine warnings...wouldn't surprise if the Causeway were closed, atm, too.
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1950. xcool
omg plz noo drama..
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Quoting sarahjola:
getting dark around here, nice cool down for us. it was getting way too hot

you got some fairly heave stuff building over the lake to your SW...coming right at you.
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Quoting IKE:


Because he wants one to hit him. He's always been that way. Look at it this way...if he does get hit by one, he'll lose his electricity for a time and won't be on here, under whatever screen name he's using.
Lol, the sad part is that he lives in the same city as me so if he gets a hurricane I get a hurricane, and if he loses electricity I lose electricity (sigh) lol.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1946. xcool
Drakoen you got mail
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1945. pottery
I see that BP is saying that they have captured about 250,000 gals of oil since they put the cap on. And they still have relief valves to close.
Well, thats the most optimistic news I have heard in 46 days of this.
Now, when do we get our life back?
(on behalf of the Affected ones)
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24398
1943. scott39
Quoting StormW:


Seeing how it was a warm cored system, and there was good vorticity coming off of the Yucatan Peninsula, if a LLC was able to develop, the upper level anticyclone over the Yucatan is supposed to build over most of the Gulf, with a little more favorable upper level winds on the 12Z forecast as opposed to the 06Z forecast. But the upper level conditions are for a short time.
Thanks
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1942. Drakoen
A strong tropical wave is located over Western Africa:

Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30565
1940. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Why are you insisting on some sort of Florida landfall?


Because he wants one to hit him. He's always been that way. Look at it this way...if he does get hit by one, he'll lose his electricity for a time and won't be on here, under whatever screen name he's using.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting 850Realtor:


Really? Let's take a poll-who thinks the Florida Panhandle is gonna take another one for the team this year? Show of hands...
I believe the eastern seaboard has a higher chance of a landfalling hurricane rather than the panhandle, regardless someone is going to be affected in a direct way or indirect way.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting PanamaBeach1:


Not me, and I live here.


Me Too! It seems like we just finished cleaning up and getting back to normal from the last one!
Member Since: September 14, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 283
1937. xcool



Dy-no-mite!!!Dy-no-mite!!!
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Quoting 850Realtor:


Really? Let's take a poll-who thinks the Florida Panhandle is gonna take another one for the team this year? Show of hands...


lol... I see nothing has changed around here. 2 yrs ago i said.. "TX will take one for the team." and did we.. there are still blue roofs. its funny how we say that then eat our words.. just saying
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1935. pottery
Quoting scott39:
Its unfortunate that I had to answer my son like that, Because he's looking to me and other people in authority positions to fix it. He just got a big spoonful of reality. Hopefully our young generation of people will do a better job!

Well, he will learn (if he has not already) that honesty hurts. But is always better. Also, that shortcuts in doing stuff ALWAYS leads to problems.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24398
Quoting 850Realtor:


Really? Let's take a poll-who thinks the Florida Panhandle is gonna take another one for the team this year? Show of hands...


Not me, and I live here.
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1932. scott39
Quoting StormW:


They haven't...they didn't show anything, unless they have something on the new runs...analysis was based on 06Z model run.
I used the wrong word(when) I meant why do you see an oppurtunity and the models dont right now? Note: Im not knocking you, I just dont understand how models work.
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Quoting TropicalWave:
I so forsee the Florida Panhandle getting creamed this summer, :(. Given the anticipated steering pattern, of course. I hope you know who is getting ready for this ''inevitable'' consequence.


Really? Let's take a poll-who thinks the Florida Panhandle is gonna take another one for the team this year? Show of hands...
Member Since: September 14, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 283
1929. hydrus
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
Not just the -lesser- antilles... all of them have a great chance of being affected this year.
I believe the northern areas run a higher chance of a hit. The southern islands do have an above average chance of a strong hurricane.jmo
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Quoting TropicalWave:


how come?
Why are you insisting on some sort of Florida landfall?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
getting dark around here, nice cool down for us. it was getting way too hot
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As a resident of Gulfport i'm still keeping an eye on the BOC Blob.Also,Cantori is coming here next week.A bad omen.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Why would they put a severe t-storm warning on there in red and ignore the tornado warning?

Ehh, nado warning got dropped a few minutes ago. Maybe they are quick on the "draw".
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Why would they put a severe t-storm warning on there in red and ignore the tornado warning?

Wasn't too much rotation with the storm, was mainly in the upper levels.
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1919. scott39
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
Keeper, Does that AOI look like its trying to form a circulation?
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Quoting WxTracker15:


Why would they put a severe t-storm warning on there in red and ignore the tornado warning?
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Quoting TexasGulf:


All the best arrows point to Florida and away from Texas.


that has SE coast written all over it
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1916. scott39
Quoting StormW:
TROPICAL WEATHER SYNOPSIS JUNE 05, 2010 ISSUED 8:20 A.M. PHTFC
Storm, I read in your synopsis that there is a window of oppurtunity for the AOI in the BOC. When do models pick up on an AOI?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
If that stays true for the most part of the season the Florida panhandle should be in for a nasty year.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194

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Quoting atmoaggie:

Looks like we'll just get the fringes with the meat of it to our NW. Could be a couple of gusts, but little to write to the SPC about.

good my cat is having kittens right now. so cute and disgusting. lol!
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1912. IKE
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i kinda like it where it is


Yeah...I do too.

0-0-0 continues til at least mid-June. Get those darn relief wells drilled.


Pensacola, Florida (CNN) -- About 250,000 gallons of oil have been funneled from a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico, BP says. That's less than a third of the 798,000 gallons of crude federal authorities estimate are gushing into the ocean every day.

BP Senior Vice President Bob Fryar said Saturday that the company "was very pleased" with the progress. "That operation has gone extremely well," Fryar said.

After many failed attempts, BP was able to place the cap on the well this week and begin siphoning oil onto the drill ship Discover Enterprise. Engineers hope to funnel more oil but must be careful about the pressure within the cap, said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's response manager.

Once the pressure is eased, BP plans to shut down valves in the cap, which are allowing oil to escape, Allen said Saturday. Company officials said they hope closing the vents will greatly reduce the amount of oozing crude. The operation is capable of capturing 630,000 gallons a day.

Oil has already affected coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and winds have pushed oil as far east as the Florida Panhandle. Tar balls have been spotted along the white sand beaches of Pensacola, Florida.

The oil slick has threatened sensitive ecosystems along the Gulf Coast. Dolphins have washed up dead. Sea turtles and brown pelicans, classified as endangered until recently, are showing up on the shore covered in oil.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1911. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54451
Quoting sarahjola:

any chance we see some action over here
got a little drizzle and lots of thunder. where is this weather going
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Quoting sarahjola:

any chance we see some action over here

Looks like we'll just get the fringes with the meat of it to our NW. Could be a couple of gusts, but little to write to the SPC about.

(easy analysis, really what's happening now on the scope)
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Quoting atmoaggie:

30 miles to my NW

any chance we see some action over here
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


All the best arrows point to Florida and away from Texas.
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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.