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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1756. pottery
Quoting Beachfoxx:
Say it ain't so!!!

We've got tarballs 5 miles west of us, on Okaloosa Island - and sometimes I can get a little whiff of a kerosene like smell & I am approx. 5 miles North of Destin on the Bay.

Hi, Foxx.
Looks more 'frantic' in the last few hours.
So sorry.............................
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
well MrstormX it looks like it came from that area of clouds in the BOC
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Tropical Wave, you must remember 2008 was an active season as well. Im sure many people along the gulf coast don't want a year like that again.
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1752. pottery
Quoting pottery:

and it rained a couple of times this morning, as well!

Temp peaked (so far) at 93.2 F at the airport.
enter PIARCO in the search-box top of this page.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
Say it ain't so!!!

We've got tarballs 5 miles west of us, on Okaloosa Island - and sometimes I can get a little whiff of a kerosene like smell & I am approx. 5 miles North of Destin on the Bay.
Quoting pottery:
Er, um, the oilflow looks more violent to me now, than it did earlier.
from the CNN feeds.
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1747. pottery
Quoting hydrus:
91.F 63% humidity would be considered dangerous here.

and it rained a couple of times this morning, as well!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
i believe that this year will, quite possible, be similar to 2005 hurricane season and be far from last seasons boring year.
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Wow look at that 850mb Vorticity at p30 hours in the gulf, anyone know where that came from?

http://moe.met.fsu.edu/cgi-bin/gfstc2.cgi?time=2010060512&field=850mb+Vorticity&hour=Animation
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at 72hrs they have a stationary front draped across the NE GOM,could serve as mechinism for cyclogenisis to occur if sheer is low enough over the area,IMO this is the area to watch over the next 5 days;)
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1742. pottery
Er, um, the oilflow looks more violent to me now, than it did earlier.
from the CNN feeds.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
Never good for Florida on Northwards
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1740. hydrus
Quoting pottery:
Conditions here--
91F
Dew pt. 77F
63% humid.
Heat index 105

think I will continue the lawnmowing later. Much later. Like tomorrow...........
91.F*** 63% humidity would be considered dangerous here.
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The greens and blue no longer being predicted in the GOM. Shear soon looks to become more favorable.
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Quoting Levi32:


Notice how they are coming across much farther north on those maps now.


Its starting to look like an active Cape Verde season, which is never a good thing.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
Is it just me or did those tropical waves grew in the forecast
24H


48H


72H

I am swearing I see a bit of spin @ 22/55, maybe the eyes bugging; also the gulf has a blob moving just East of North, does not overly impress me yet. However, I will be watching both areas, and could see 22/55 area doing something in a day or something.
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1736. pottery
Quoting Levi32:


Notice how they are coming across much farther north on those maps now.

I noticed that as well...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
Tar balls found on Okaloosa Island (Ft. Walton Beach, FL)

OKALOOSA ISLAND - Small tar balls were spotted and cleaned up on the western portion of the island, according to an 11 a.m. news release from the county.

People who see tar balls in Okaloosa County are asked to call 311 and press 0. Okaloosa expects to see tar balls and thin oil sheen.
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Clearly the convection from the BOC blob is gone, however its cloud mass still remains. I am kinda doubting any development at this point but, one can't rule out the possability of sudden vertical development.
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1732. Levi32
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
Is it just me or did those tropical waves grew in the forecast
24H


48H


72H



Notice how they are coming across much farther north on those maps now.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
1731. pottery
Conditions here--
91F
Dew pt. 77F
63% humid.
Heat index 105

think I will continue the lawnmowing later. Much later. Like tomorrow...........
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
I will convice my parents to take me to the beach.My mom hates the beach though >.>

Tell her it may be the last time ever she will see the beach like it is right now
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Is it just me or did those tropical waves grew in the forecast
24H


48H


72H

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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
I will convice my parents to take me to the beach.My mom hates the beach though >.>
LOL
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Quoting pottery:

That does'nt bear thinking about..........

yeah, well, if it does happen, who's to blame?
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Quoting TropicalWave:
afetrnoon adrian, hope all is well.


Hello. All is ok just trying to cope with those heat index values outside reaching 110 late this afternoon. Thankgod for the central air. Again june really has no influence on what a particular season might look atlease in my view. July tends to be a different story.
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1723. pottery
Quoting AussieStorm:

well, if you can get to the beach, get there soon or they may never be the same again.

That does'nt bear thinking about..........
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
To look at it even further

2005 had 2 named storms in June
1968 had 3 named storms in June

2005 ended up with 28 storms
1968 ended up with 8 storms

June activity means nothing towards the overall activity of the season
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
I know right.I'm 13 don't even know how to drive.But I would like to see the beaches before their ruined.

well, if you can get to the beach, get there soon or they may never be the same again.
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Quoting Drakoen:
The second most active season on record, 1933, saw 1 storm before the season started and didn't see another storm until the end of June. We still appear to be on target for a hyperactive season.


What date you look for to then have the thinking it will or wont be hyperactive?
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Quoting Drakoen:
The second most active season on record, 1933, saw 1 storm before the season started and didn't see another storm until the end of June. We still appear to be on target for a hyperactive season.


Hey Drak...

Thats correct june really has no influence on what the rest of this season might look like. Now july is a different story if we start seeing tc's popping left and right then it tends to implicate a pretty active season ahead.

Go Lakers!!!
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Quoting pottery:
Aussie, you lost the football match, AND the French Open, all in one day?
What's up, man!

bad night for us in Sport. but an aussie is leading in the golf. I think it's Jason Day.
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Well I agree aussie with some of the beaches this summer never being the same.When I saw how gulf port mississipi use to look before and after katrina I cried my eyeballs out.Why is 2010 being such a brat in nature this year.I know 2009 had it's moments but 2010 geezs.

i've seen video of alaska after the exxon spill, even today, turn over a rock or dig a little bit into the sand, oil is there. I hate to think the beaches in the gulf and east coast could be like that in years time.
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1712. pottery
Aussie, you lost the football match, AND the French Open, all in one day?
What's up, man!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
Quoting Acemmett90:

yah prob gonna be severe storms today

that's my gift to you, to cool you down.
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1707. pottery
Quoting hydrus:
Just enough rain to soak the grass so it can,t be mowed, right? You know if you are bored you can WU mail one of those lager brews....:)

You know the thing!!
And the grass is 6-8" high in big areas
Hard work..... Just piles up in the exit.
pushpullpushpullpush.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
Quoting Acemmett90:

i would kill for that temp right now im not looking foword to july/aug

ok, i'll box some up and send it to ya.
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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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