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 MiamiHurricanes09:
We all have our opinions, and my opinion is that we will get our first tropical storm in mid/late June. Why? As SSTs continue to increase and the subtropical jet begins to break apart almost completely conditions will become more favorable for development pretty much throughout the basin. Now we have our favorable environment but if we don't get a good upward MJO you aren't going to get much development. I expect conditions to become favorable throughout the basin, respectively, by around June 20th.


2005 saw two June storms, and I agree that we will probably only see one this year. But July could be way above average in terms of activity.
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
I dont think so i think our first storm will come at the beggining of july
We all have our opinions, and my opinion is that we will get our first tropical storm in mid/late June. Why? As SSTs continue to increase and the subtropical jet begins to break apart almost completely conditions will become more favorable for development pretty much throughout the basin. Now we have our favorable environment but if we don't get a good upward MJO you aren't going to get much development. I expect conditions to become favorable throughout the basin, respectively, by around June 20th.
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Quoting MrstormX:
Ahh yes, a 10% chance of tornadoes across Illiana.

Could be a busy day up there take care.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting Acemmett90:

well for now its fine cuz the atl is deader than michael jackson

that is not a nice comment
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Ahh yes, a 10% chance of tornadoes across Illiana.

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1550. JamesSA
Quoting Acemmett90:

well for now its fine cuz the atl is deader than michael jackson
That is true! LOL!

I found this over there, but have not checked it out at the source myself yet. Certainly good news if it is true.

From BP site:

On June 4, a total of 6,077 barrels of oil was collected and 15.7 million standard cubic feet of natural gas was flared.

Optimization continues and improvement in oil collection is expected over the next several days.


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1549. hydrus
Quoting tornadodude:


yeah, Indiana looks like it might get some good storms later, maybe supercells and tornadoes
Mornin T-Dude. Large area of moderate risk today.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
LOL. I'm pretty sure we'll get some sort of activity in the month of June, but do I expect it in the next 3 days, no.
I dont think so i think our first storm will come at the beggining of july
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting MrstormX:
Clearly nothing tropical to observe this morning, mid-day heating could provide a source of entertainment for later.


yeah, Indiana looks like it might get some good storms later, maybe supercells and tornadoes
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Clearly nothing tropical to observe this morning, mid-day heating could provide a source of entertainment for later.
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Quoting JamesSA:
So as not to overload our WEATHER blog with oil spill discussion, here is an oilfield related blog with a pretty active discussion of the ongoing efforts at controlling the spill... Deepwater Oil Spill - Sealing the Cap and Jet Pumps - and Open Thread
Scroll up...the title of this blog is "long range oil spill forecast"
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Our little BOC friend that many were fairly excited about last night lost almost all of it's deep convection, I see. Now going to be on the move.



With not-very-moist air along for the ride, too.



I see no worries across the tropics for a while conditions still quite hostile close to home.40-60kt shear blowing through the gulf at the moment. Nothing showing up in the models 7-10 days.
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1542. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
1541. JamesSA
So as not to overload our WEATHER blog with oil spill discussion, here is an oilfield related blog with a pretty active discussion of the ongoing efforts at controlling the spill... Deepwater Oil Spill - Sealing the Cap and Jet Pumps - and Open Thread
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Quoting MrstormX:


Im operating under the "expect the unexpected" frame of mind for June, I suspect something is going to happen this month and when it does it will catch many off guard. By the way Miami, looks like you were pretty right about the BOC blob so far, i'll have to listen to you more next time lol.
LOL. I'm pretty sure we'll get some sort of activity in the month of June, but do I expect it in the next 3 days, no.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Atlantic remains quite. I do not expect tropical development in the next 3 days.



Im operating under the "expect the unexpected" frame of mind for June, I suspect something is going to happen this month and when it does it will catch many off guard. By the way Miami, looks like you were pretty right about the BOC blob so far, i'll have to listen to you more next time lol.
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1538. fire635
Quoting JamesSA:
I don't see anything yet, but I am sure that will change soon.

I sure wish convective blobs in the tropics were all we had to talk about.


ME TOO!
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Quoting MrstormX:


It seems the GFS was forecasting that to happen, convection dissapears during the highest shear but then quickly the AOI becomes vertically stacked on the other side of the shear. Something to monitor, but not freak out about.
No it doesn't. It just shows a small circular blob of convection in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico at around 36 hours then rapidly kills it as it moves towards the west.

GFS 06z
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Quoting pottery:

Had to respond, 2...
Good point. And valid, I guess.
But this is not known by BP??
Good Lord, lend a hand.


Of course BP knows. I'm sure they hope they can capture enough to reduce their dispersant and clean up expenses but from what little I know I can say with a fairly high level of confidence that msgambler isn't going to take the odds on this thing working, especially long range. I bet the life insurance premiums on the folks on the boat at the top of the line are higher than their pay.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
1535. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
1534. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
Atlantic remains quite. I do not expect tropical development in the next 3 days.

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I cannot find it in my photos either.
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Weather456 where's your avatar or picture??


I do not know, its at the front of the blog page but not in the blogs themselves.
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TUTT came as expected

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1528. hydrus
Quoting atmoaggie:

Little elephant from Winnie the Pooh...

Finding one in the yard means the grass is tall and thick, but not quite as bad as if one were to find a Snuffleupagus.
Thanx.:)
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Our little BOC friend that many were fairly excited about last night lost almost all of it's deep convection, I see. Now going to be on the move.



With not-very-moist air along for the ride, too.



It seems the GFS was forecasting that to happen, convection dissapears during the highest shear but then quickly the AOI becomes vertically stacked on the other side of the shear. Something to monitor, but not freak out about.
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Quoting fire635:
I know there is ALOT to talk about with the oil in the gulf, but doesn anyone have any input on the tropics? Is there anything out there (now or in the future)worth discussing?

Not right now and likely for at least the next week or three.

When this deviates from center towards octet 1 or 2 is when we can expect activity. The next week should be with the thickest green line. After that, something between the thinner green and blue lines for the following week.



Of course, exceptions are possible. Nothing to see right now.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
1525. JamesSA
Quoting fire635:
I know there is ALOT to talk about with the oil in the gulf, but doesn anyone have any input on the tropics? Is there anything out there (now or in the future)worth discussing?
I don't see anything yet, but I am sure that will change soon.

I sure wish convective blobs in the tropics were all we had to talk about.
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Isn't radioactivity what created Godzilla?...mmmm
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Quoting stillwaiting:
the gov is still not in charge of the spill clean-up,anything as far as clean-up still has to be autherized by bp......what a f'n' shame......oil=money=power...basically barack and friends need to step up and take over the clean-up 100%,then "bill em euro bloats" IMO
All is being done "in accordance with" the original permit wording. All of the blustering with the media from both sides is just that, blustering. There are a whole bunch of lawyers from both sides threatening each other in the background...we don't see that. The Administration made a deal and now they have to honor it. The details will come out but not for a long time. Meanwhile, the damage continues...
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1521. JamesSA
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
well ya wouldn't need lights any more everything would kinda glow in the dark
Actually it is technologically sound for an extreme situation such as they had where well casing integrity was lost, poison gas was bubbling out of the ground, and there was no hope of controlling it by conventional means.

They did it deep underground so there was no explosion and thus no radiation at the surface... and thus no tsunami and no glowing fish.

That was good 'commie ingenuity' back in that time. Russia was in love with the atom back then, and they were trying to make use of it for all sorts of things.
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Our little BOC friend that many were fairly excited about last night lost almost all of it's deep convection, I see. Now going to be on the move.



With not-very-moist air along for the ride, too.

Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
New surface map are out (12Z)






A high LPA on Africa. Could that be our first CV storm even though I know nothing have been predicted to happen in the next 7 days.
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1517. fire635
I know there is ALOT to talk about with the oil in the gulf, but doesn anyone have any input on the tropics? Is there anything out there (now or in the future)worth discussing?
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New surface map are out (12Z)



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Quoting stillwaiting:
the gov is still not in charge of the spill clean-up,anything as far as clean-up still has to be autherized by bp......what a f'n' shame......oil=money=power...basically barack and friends need to step up and take over the clean-up 100%,then "bill em euro bloats" IMO


Is there any reason why there was no boom placed where the leaked oil hit the surface?
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Quoting hydrus:
Mornin, what are heffalumps?

Little elephant from Winnie the Pooh...

Finding one in the yard means the grass is tall and thick, but not quite as bad as if one were to find a Snuffleupagus.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting hydrus:
Mornin, what are heffalumps?



They are closely related to Woozils...
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1512. hydrus
Quoting AussieStorm:

I was going to ask the same thing, I thought it was a cartoon charactor
We called female cows (heffers) when we were kids.
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the gov is still not in charge of the spill clean-up,anything as far as clean-up still has to be autherized by bp......what a f'n' shame......oil=money=power...basically barack and friends need to step up and take over the clean-up 100%,then "bill em euro bloats" IMO
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Quoting hydrus:
Mornin, what are heffalumps?

I was going to ask the same thing, I thought it was a cartoon charactor
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
well ya wouldn't need lights any more everything would kinda glow in the dark

would be easy to catch the fish, oh wait, maybe the fish will catch you.
Full time, USA 3 - Aust 1.


Rydalmere, Sydney Weather Now.
52.9F steady
Updated at 00:30 EST




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Quoting pottery:

Had to respond...
the guy that owned it, cant find his boat either. Probably..

or his house
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1507. hydrus
Quoting pottery:
Later. I have to mow a lawn that looks like there might be Anaconda's lurking out there.
Or Heffalumps.
Mornin, what are heffalumps?
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1506. pottery
Quoting JamesSA:
I was doing some reading on an oilfield related blog last night.

It seems they are fearful of the consequences if they had a solidly bolted on pipe to the surface with this well as it would put them in essentially the same position that Deepwater Horizon was.

There is a whole lot of oil and even more gas coming out of this wild well, and no way to shut it off! That ship can process about 15,000bpd, and there is a whole lot more than that coming out. And what about the gas? There are limits to how much you can safely flare off without incinerating anything within 1/4 mile.

To complicate matters, the gas is going to expand to 160 times the volume we see at the well head as it travels up the pipe. And, it is going to tend to separate from the oil and rise above it on the way up.

So you see, there are some technical problems greater than how to get a good seal on the top hat.

Had to respond, 2...
Good point. And valid, I guess.
But this is not known by BP??
Good Lord, lend a hand.
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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.