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 really do not give it much hope due to the fact thatt they built this thing when they said it was leaking 1K-5K bbl a day. Now it is 15K-17K bbl a day and they put a 6 in. pipe in a 24 in. pipe. Might have worked at the lower numbr but not the larger. They should have modified the LMRP and put on at least a 12-18 in. pipe and then it would have had a chance. But what the heck do I know.
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1404. pottery

Well, here we are, 5 days into Hurricane season, and not a Hurricane in sight!!
This Season is obviously a Complete Bust.

heheheheheh--Good Morning all!
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1403. IKE
Quoting IKE:


I would call what they're saying....spin.

How many have they not collected? 15,000 barrels an hour....times 36 hours...=54,000 barrels... -1,800 collected...leaves over 50,000 in the GOM.


Actually my math is wrong....it's spewing 15,000 barrels a day. They've collected 1,800.

In 36 hours that would equal 22,500 barrels...if they've collected 1,800, they're collecting 8%.
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Well, there's no El Nino this year, with SST's this high, shear below climatological norm, once we get that spark (MJO in this case) come the last week of June into the first few weeks of July we should see Alex, Bonnie, and possibly Colin. I suspect Alex around June 23rd.
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DestinJeff, First Good morning
They haven't closed all the vents yet, so they say.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

I hope this doesn't come true

and we have kick-off between Aust v USA

1 - 0 USA 3mins, woops. I have my winter gloves on to keep my hands warm its 50F here
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1398. IKE
Quoting DestinJeff:
BP said it has collected more than 1,800 barrels of oil since placing a cap over its ruptured undersea well, but video taken Saturday still shows a stream of crude escaping into the Gulf of Mexico

Safe to say not working?


I would call what they're saying....spin.

How many have they not collected? 15,000 barrels an hour....times 36 hours...=54,000 barrels... -1,800 collected...leaves over 50,000 in the GOM.
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Quoting StormW:
TROPICAL WEATHER SYNOPSIS JUNE 05, 2010 ISSUED 8:20 A.M. PHTFC
Here's food for thought...the longer we go with out a storm, the busier it may very well be come AUG/SEP.

I hope this doesn't come true

and we have kick-off between Aust v USA
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I agree 100% Ike and I also think The 1st week or two of July is going to be interestiing.
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1394. IKE
As far as Obama shutting down deep well-drilling in the GOM for the next 6 months, BP should be forced to hire the workers that are now unemployed, to help in the cleanup. Pay them the same wage.

I read your update StormW....could June 2010 be a blank in the Atlantic? If so, that includes the GOM, which is good news for getting relief wells drilled.
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Thanks StormW for update
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1392. IKE
Quoting msgambler:
Ike, It looks like you are in the same boat as I am in the fact that there seems to be nothing out there but heat and humidity.


Yup...highs in the low-mid 90's next week. Heat index 105-110. That should really bake the oil that's polluting the GOM.
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Ike, It looks like you are in the same boat as I am in the fact that there seems to be nothing out there but heat and humidity.
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Quoting msgambler:
We'll say a prayer for the boys on the field Aussie. We know they will need it against the USA...LOL j/k

where only 6 spots behind you on the world rankings
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We'll say a prayer for the boys on the field Aussie. We know they will need it against the USA...LOL j/k
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Quoting IKE:


Not sure. Maybe BP will get around to telling today. Problem is...will it be the truth?

Do the BP executives lay straight in bed?


Now
54.9°F steady
Updated at 21:50 EST


P.S Australia is about to play USA in a soccer friendly, last for both teams before the world cup.
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1384. IKE
Quoting tkeith:

ummm, Mr Suttles said this morning we would know in 24-48 hours.

Can you say Broken record...*shakes head in disgust*


Here's one 4 ya BP....

Same Old Song and Dance


Fate comes a-knockin
Doors start lockin
Your old time connection
Change your direction
You aint gonna change it
Cant rearrange it
Cant stand the pain
When it's all the same to you, my friend



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Good morning all
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1382. IKE
Quoting P451:


Can't really tell to be honest.

What's the story? Can't close the lids? Can't seal the lid well enough?



Not sure. Maybe BP will get around to telling today. Problem is...will it be the truth?
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1381. tkeith
Quoting IKE:
Does it look like it's accomplished anything?

ummm, Mr Suttles said this morning we would know in 24-48 hours.

Can you say Broken record...*shakes head in disgust*
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My understanding from going through the various media stories is even at optimum capture of the oil, you will always see it coming out from the bottom of the LMRP. They need to keep positive pressure inside the LMRP so that seawater does not enter from the bottom which would cause hydrates and freezing up of the flow. It does look to me somewhat better in that you can see the fins almost all of the time.
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Morning P451
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Morning StormW
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Wow. They wanna kill the blob off today...

MARINE WEATHER DISCUSSION FOR GULF OF MEXICO...CARIBBEAN SEA AND
TROPICAL N ATLC FROM 07N TO 22N BETWEEN 55W AND 65W...AND
SOUTHWEST NORTH ATLC S OF 31N W OF 55W

GULF OF MEXICO...
DEEP LAYERED LOW ACROSS E TEXAS/W LOUISIANA HAS BECOME AN
ELONGATED SHEAR ZONE WITH WEAK SFC LOW. ASSOCIATED FRONTAL
TROUGH IS ILL DEFINED ACROSS THE EXTREME NW CORNER OF THE GULF
REGION WITH NO SIGNIFICANT WEATHER ATTM. RECENT SCATTEROMETER
PASSES SHOWED MODERATE S TO SW FLOW ACROSS THE N GULF AND SE TO
E FLOW ACROSS THE S HALF. MEANWHILE...A LARGE CLUSTER OF
EXPLOSIVE CNVTN ALONG THE W COAST OF THE YUCATAN HAS SHIFTED W
INTO THE BAY OF CAMPECHE AND SRN MEXICO. THIS WAS ASSOCIATED
WITH N PORTIONS OF A TROPICAL WAVE THAT WE DROPPED FROM THE MAP
YESTERDAY AND AN UPPER TROUGH SHIFTING SLOWLY INTO THE FAR WRN
GULF. LOOK FOR THESE TSTMS TO CONTINUE TO SHIFT W AND NW THIS
MORNING BEFORE BECOMING TO FALL APART LATE THIS AFTERNOON AS THE
LLVL FLOW BECOME DIFFLUENT. REMNANTS OF THE TEXAS ARE LOW
FORECAST TO LIFT SLOWLY N TODAY AND ALLOW STRAIGHT SLY FLOW TO
DEVELOP ACROSS MOST OF THE BASIN THROUGH SUN MORNING. AN E TO W
RIDGE ALONG 25N WILL BUILD W TO 90W ACROSS SAT NIGHT THROUGH SUN
AHEAD OF COLD FRONT FORECAST TO DROP INTO THE NE PORTIONS OF THE
BASIN MON AND TUE. FRONT TO STALL ACROSS N CENTRAL FLORIDA MON
NIGHT WITH WEAK 1016 MB HIGH THEN CENTERED ACROSS THE N CENTRAL
GULF...AND SE TO S WINDS CONTINUING ACROSS W PORTIONS. UPPER
LEVEL SUPPORT WILL ACCOMPANY THIS FRONT AND ACTIVE WEATHER IS
EXPECTED.
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Is that part of their 50 million dollar add campaign.
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1372. skep
BP - Bringing People together
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So far it looks like a kid poking a stick in a hornets nest.But you do have to admit they have the addition of dispersant down real well.
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Morning Ike, Looks like it slowed a little but not enough to do any good. I don't think it is getting what it increased in output from the cutting of the pipe myself.
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Quoting StormW:


Forecast steering would tend to indicate this winds up around 93-95W in 36-48 hrs


Morning Storm (whenever u get here) Good call. A few models take the BOC blob exactly where you said before it weakens and disappears. Of course that may change by time anyone reads this. Lol. We just have to wait and see as usual.
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1368. IKE
Does it look like it's accomplished anything?
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Quoting msgambler:
pretty good all things concidered. I live on th Alabama Coast. A bit muggy here this morning and a 40% chanch of rain later, ohh plus that 100% chance of oil.
lol

Quoting msgambler:
I see your area got hit pretty hard with weather in the last couple days. Hope all are well with you and yours.

Yeah been hit hard, today was strangely dry and sunny, but tomorrow the rain is coming back.
The creek beside my place rose 4mtrs over the 2 days of solid rain we had.
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I see your area got hit pretty hard with weather in the last couple days. Hope all are well with you and yours.
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pretty good all things concidered. I live on th Alabama Coast. A bit muggy here this morning and a 40% chanch of rain later, ohh plus that 100% chance of oil.
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Quoting msgambler:
Hello Aussie

Hey mate! how's things in your part of the world
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Hello Aussie
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MARCO!!!!!
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1360. xcool
i'm go bed
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1359. xcool
bye rob .
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1358. xcool
2010 not Going be 2009 season... Watch &See the time coming
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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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