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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4906. hydrus
...................Largest recorded tropical cyclone.........
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4905. Levi32
SST changes for the last 10 days shows the cooling going on in the eastern Pacific during a time when it should be warming due to summer solstice.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
4904. xcool
MrstormX yeah about time
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
So how bout it Drakoen. I said if a storm is named in the Atlantic basin south of 25 N and east of 60 W by June 30 I'd put my shirt back on. What are the odds?


If you are holding a fish, you get a pass.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4902. xcool
SLU sorry noo.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
4901. xcool
StSimonsIslandGAGuy lol
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quoting Grothar:


Thanks DAn, but aqua beat you to it. Thought you all might get a kick out of that one


It's late and smells like oil outside (don't know what that has to do with anything, but...any excuse). So much for my investigative reporting career.
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xcool hey, I see you finally got that caps lock fixed lol
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4898. SLU
Quoting xcool:





Hey xcool .. can u send me the link for the accuweather image? I'm having issues with mine. Thanks










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4897. xcool


anticyclone
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
4896. Levi32
Look at the eastern Pacific get cold now, signalling the fairly quiet season they should see this year. This is just about as scary as you can possibly ask the Atlantic to look, with bathtub water from Africa to the Gulf of Mexico sandwiched between cold water in the Pacific and cold water in the mid-latitudes of the Atlantic.

This forces net motion of air to be towards the deep tropics of the Atlantic, which increases surface convergence and upward motion, accelerated by the warm water below. The cooling occurring in the eastern Pacific has major implications for the Caribbean as the monsoon trough will tend to reside farther north than normal, more over the southern Caribbean than over Panama like it usually is.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
4894. xcool
Drakoen hey .
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
4893. Drakoen
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Houd have known that?


You are a regular Edgar Casey!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4891. Grothar
Quoting PcolaDan:


The cast iron? (green ones) :) Don't think so. Have had some for 20+ years though and have never bloomed. Don't grow like hostas, they have individual stalks.

Grothar, that site is for "Del Norte High School Class of 1974 Albuquerque, New Mexico". Suspect it is a joke.


Thanks DAn, but aqua beat you to it. Thought you all might get a kick out of that one
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4890. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting pottery:
I am out.
Have fun reaching 5000 posts. You have 23 minutes, my time!
Tomorrow..........................


be over 5000 by 8 am tomorrow morning

later pottery
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4889. xcool


Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quiet night of severe weather, thats a really good thing when you consider last night around this time. I was actually under the cell that caused the Muncie, Indiana tornado back when it was just a minor rainstorm. Its weird knowing that you saw the beginning of a tornadic supercell.
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4887. pottery
I am out.
Have fun reaching 5000 posts. You have 23 minutes, my time!
Tomorrow..........................
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24028
4886. Grothar
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
That Sylvia Browne is a fraud...and as Eric Weiss proved, most, if not all, are.


Houd have known that?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Are those hostas?


The cast iron? (green ones) :) Don't think so. Have had some for 20 years though and have never bloomed. Don't grow like hostas, they have individual stalks. Aspidistra elatior

Grothar, that site is for "Del Norte High School Class of 1974 Albuquerque, New Mexico". Suspect it is a joke.
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4884. aquak9
ok grothar, I'll let you slide.

Don't make me post pics of the rare tree octopus, though.
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Quoting Grothar:


Those are real aqua. Here is the link.

http://dnhs74.com/desert_growth.html


Name? Taxonomy? I'm not buying it.
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Quoting pottery:

SERIOUSLY??
Well, I'll be whatevered!
Never knew about that...


If those are real they must be alien plants..
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


Why aren't psychics rich from playing the stock market? I'd sooner believe Warren Buffet is psychic than those fools.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4880. Ossqss
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


I would think that a recipe for a bird popular with certain WU bloggers would work


Just like the chicken you eat? Gheeze ........Sorry about that, I will just tell the kids and neighbors, who are impacted, the birds are popular and untouchable regardless of the lack of sleep for anyone. Gheeze again. I was joking, are you? I knew I should not have refreshed prior to powering down.......
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4879. gator23
Quoting Grothar:


Those are real aqua. Here is the link.

http://dnhs74.com/desert_growth.html


clearly photoshopped notice they have no name listed.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4877. pottery
Quoting Grothar:


Those are real aqua. Here is the link.

http://dnhs74.com/desert_growth.html

SERIOUSLY??
Well, I'll be whatevered!
Never knew about that...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24028
Quoting Grothar:


Most of us get mad at the alarmists. They can put out harmful information at the wrong time. My mothers's family moved to South Florida in the 1920's so I am familiar with the storms. I hope I did not come across too strongly, That was not my intention.


No not at all, lol. I hope you don't consider me to be an alarmist, I try to act more like a realist but sometimes I might come off as overpowering. Its both a positive and negative aspect of my personality.
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That Sylvia Browne is a fraud...and as Eric Weiss proved, most, if not all, are.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4874. Motttt
:)

Anybody know how to scare off limpkins? Really need to for they are loud, very loud.....
use like a blackcat fire cracker.. works for me in sarasota
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4873. pottery
Quoting Grothar:


I know what you mean. I saw two psychics meets on the street and one said, "You're fine, how am I?"

LOL.
Oh, and Grothar, your plants are in need of pruning.
Wanna borrow my torch?
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24028
Quoting aquak9:
I use a strong ferrous sulfate fertilizer on my cast iron plants, and I get'm to bloom every year.


My cast iron plants look like this. They bloom? Hmm.
Grothar, I thought those were literally cast iron lawn decorations. What are they called?

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4871. Grothar
Quoting aquak9:
I use a strong ferrous sulfate fertilizer on my cast iron plants, and I get'm to bloom every year.


Those are real aqua. Here is the link.

http://dnhs74.com/desert_growth.html
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4870. Grothar
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


Why aren't psychics rich from playing the stock market? I'd sooner believe Warren Buffet is psychic than those fools.


I know what you mean. I saw two psychics meets on the street and one said, "You're fine, how am I?"
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4869. pottery
Levi, 4847.
Thanks for that.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24028
4867. xcool
convection look good.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quoting Ossqss:


Thanks, but is it really at the equator, the ice sat is not from what i understand and it has the same issue. If they are at the equator, how the heck can we use that accurately?

Now do you have a good recipe for Limpkins? I will soon need one.

Try listening to this all night at a measured 100 Db....... from 100 ft.....

a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWY5MrJTp0k" target="_blank"
onclick="if(!checkUrl(this.href)) return false;" rel="nofollow">Link


I would think that a recipe for a bird popular with certain WU bloggers would work
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4864. Grothar
Quoting MrstormX:


Last night was simply me, and many other amazing bloggers such as borderno and pottery trying to keep people up to date on the situation unfolding. I like to consider it a helpful bit of Operation Meteorology, keeping people up to date on the dangerous weather abounding the region. I guess I got a little dismayed after I left to see that all talk went back on the tropics, while an EF3 monster killed 7 people. But ultimately this is an international weather blog, so it was bound to happen anyways. Im not trying to discourage anyone, or downcast tropical waves but at the same time there is no immediate threat from them. As time progresses we will find out more.


Most of us get mad at the alarmists. They can put out harmful information at the wrong time. My mothers's family moved to South Florida in the 1920's so I am familiar with the storms. I hope I did not come across too strongly, That was not my intention.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AllStar17:
The ITCZ remains very active......and extremely active for June 6th.


Very much so, its popping like fireworks in there. lol, thankfully its in the ITCZ and not north.
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Quoting Ossqss:


Fair enough, find a storm that has developed while in the ITCZ. I gotta go, night all. out


Storms don't usually form within the ITCZ. Usually they break off before forming.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5300
4861. pottery
Quoting beell:


Proximity to the equator/ITCZ. And still some dry air about.

True. I put it down to dry air, mostly.
But I am sure the proximity to the ITCZ is a big factor too preventing organization.
Thanks for the explanations..
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24028
I was bored, so I looked up a bunch of psychic websites and read their 2010 predictions.

Predictions for 2010 hurricane season, depending on who you believe, are as follows;

Bahamas gets hit by a Cat 4 / Cat 5 hurricane

or

Miami gets hit by a historical Cat 4+ hurricane

or

Florida Keys gets hit by a Cat-4 hurricane

or

Florida gets hit by 3 major hurricanes

or

Texas gets hit by a major hurricane.

I can't figure this out, why all these psychics are different.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4859. aquak9
I use a strong ferrous sulfate fertilizer on my cast iron plants, and I get'm to bloom every year.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4858. Levi32
Quoting Ossqss:


Thanks, but is it really at the equator, the ice sat is not from what i understand and it has the same issue. If they are at the equator, how the heck can we use that accurately?

Now do you have a good recipe for Limpkins? I will soon need one.

Try listening to this all night at a measured 100 Db....... from 100 ft.....

Link


Polar-orbiting satellites also have an inclination issue. When they pass over the equator they are looking directly down at the earth, but right at the poles they are looking out into space and missing the ground in a small area.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
4857. beell
Quoting pottery:

OK, thanks!
So if one of the waves (tomorrow morning, say) should break free of the ITCZ it could develop.
That was kind of my point, and I am wondering what conditions are in place to stop them breaking off.
Not obsessing, just genuinely interested.


Then more dry air and 30 knots of shear. But maybe these waves are strong enough to retain good structure and make the trip across.
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4856. Ossqss
Quoting gator23:

I dont agree, I think that regardless of the ITCZ those waves are in the right place.


Fair enough, find a storm that has developed while in the ITCZ :) I gotta go, night all. out
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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.