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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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
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The ITCZ remains very active......and extremely active for June 6th.
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4854. xcool



Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
Quoting AllStar17:
It would be cool to get to 100 pages before a new blog.


If we keep posting it is bound to happen, and with no real tropical activity... this would be a feat.
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4851. Grothar


These are the plants
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Quoting Grothar:


Some pictures , huh? I didn't believe it until I read it.


Wait, that was SERIOUS??????
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Quoting Grothar:


You know MrsstormX, I usually do not respond negatively to anyone here, but some of the people on here are quite young and they get excited if something is happening of interest. Yes, even some of us oldsters do as well. No one is running off to the stores and buying plywood and bottled water. Some of us joke around with each other because we have been here a long time. No one is being an alarmist. After reading your blogs last night, you made it appear the entire midwest was going to disappear, and yes it was a tragic night, without a doubt. I would rather these people get excited on the blog about a tropical wave than running loose on the streets. Let them have their fun.


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 Operational 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.
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It would be cool to get to 100 pages before a new blog.
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4847. Levi32
Quoting pottery:

Anyone???


Latitude, ITCZ-dependency, and wind shear. The wave currently at 38W will actually be getting far enough north to develop, and will probably be the first wave of the year to become independent of the ITCZ. It won't though, because upper-level conditions aren't great. SSTs are also usually too cold at this time of year, but this year is an exception. That's why a Bertha isn't out of the question.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
4846. Grothar
A rare event, these weird plants bloom on average once every 25 years. It is not fully understood what exact conditions make the plants bloom. What is known is that all of the plants in a large area bloom at the roughly the same time. The blooms last for just a few days, before collapsing back to the ground. The research on these strange desert growths is minimal because of the long period between flowering. There has been some rough correlation with the sunspot cycle which lasts 22 years, but not enough evidence has been gathered to convince scientists. These plants have not fared well under lab conditions, thus making them even more difficult to study.

A rare event, these weird plants bloom on average once every 25 years. It is not fully understood what exact conditions make the plants bloom. What is known is that all of the plants in a large area bloom at the roughly the same time. The blooms last for just a few days, before collapsing back to the ground. The research on these strange desert growths is minimal because of the long period between flowering. There has been some rough correlation with the sunspot cycle which lasts 22 years, but not enough evidence has been gathered to convince scientists. These plants have not fared well under lab conditions, thus making them even more difficult to study.
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4845. pottery
Quoting PcolaDan:


Anti Wave Mini Bulkhead


I think I will go with this as an answer. LOLOL
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4844. beell
Quoting pottery:

Anyone???


Proximity to the equator/ITCZ. And still some dry air about.
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4843. Grothar
Quoting PcolaDan:


LOL Hmmmm, my cast iron plants don't look like that.


Some pictures , huh? I didn't believe it until I read it.
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4842. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting beell:


I think most of us are just noting the fact that these two waves are the first of their kind this year. True blue, Atlantic Tropical Waves.

wave number 17
with the 18th wave
waitin in the winds
out of every 100 waves
that come off
on average 8 of them
will become hurricanes
i think its like every 12 waves
1 should become
a tropical system storm or cane
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53827
Quoting Grothar:


You know MrsstormX, I usually do not respond negatively to anyone here, but some of the people on here are quite young and they get excited if something is happening of interest. Yes, even some of us oldsters do as well. No one is running off to the stores and buying plywood and bottled water. Some of us joke around with each other because we have been here a long time. No one is being an alarmist. After reading your blogs last night, you made it appear the entire midwest was going to disappear, and yes it was a tragic night, without a doubt. I would rather these people get excited on the blog about a tropical wave than running loose on the streets. Let them have their fun.


I'm not bothering with plywood and bottled water this year. I'm just going to get a nice, safe shower curtain to wrap myself in when a storm comes.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
4840. pottery
Quoting MrstormX:


Thats a good point id have to check discussions on this blog from that time, to find out if people were saying not yet. And in response to pottery, I think the only thing currently stopping cyclone-genesis is the locations of the waves, most are still heavily embedded in the ITCZ and can't seem to break away. But I have been observing like you guys today, just not over observing... I like to keep my sanity for the coming season lol

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.
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4839. gator23
Quoting Ossqss:


ITCZ


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

Anyone???


Anti Wave Mini Bulkhead

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4837. Ossqss
Quoting pottery:

Anyone???


ITCZ

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4836. gator23
Quoting pottery:

I agree about not being obsessive here and now.
But what is actually PREVENTING any of these waves from becoming something else, now?



NOTHING AT ALL, nothing at all, nothing at all....
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4835. Grothar
Quoting MrstormX:


Personally I believe everyone is overacting to these far off African Waves, lets face it most are going to dissipate. And if any from it will still be days before anybody is really threatened. Its kinda silly, thats just my opinion.


You know MrsstormX, I usually do not respond negatively to anyone here, but some of the people on here are quite young and they get excited if something is happening of interest. Yes, even some of us oldsters do as well. No one is running off to the stores and buying plywood and bottled water. Some of us joke around with each other because we have been here a long time. No one is being an alarmist. After reading your blogs last night, you made it appear the entire midwest was going to disappear, and yes it was a tragic night, without a doubt. I would rather these people get excited on the blog about a tropical wave than running loose on the streets. Let them have their fun.
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Quoting CaribBoy:
97 pages ... absolutly amazing!


Yes a long weekend of model watching, wave watching, severe storms, tornado emergencies... you name it
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


I agree. Really, unless the Bertha name is in play, nothing happens with these waves for another 6 weeks. At least.

And if one of these waves develops in the east Atlantic and gets a name east of 55 W before the summer solstice, I'll change my avatar to a shirted pic!


It is just begging to be nicknamed "Big Bertha". NHC will strategically not name weak storms after the A storm just to get a big one. :P
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4832. pottery
Quoting pottery:

I agree about not being obsessive here and now.
But what is actually PREVENTING any of these waves from becoming something else, now?

Anyone???
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


but weren't people saying "not yet" in late June of 2008 when the models were predicting Bertha to form?
Quoting pottery:

I agree about not being obsessive here and now.
But what is actually PREVENTING any of these waves from becoming something else, now?


Thats a good point id have to check discussions on this blog from that time, to find out if people were saying not yet. And in response to pottery, I think the only thing currently stopping cyclone-genesis is the locations of the waves, most are still heavily embedded in the ITCZ and can't seem to break away. But I have been observing like you guys today, just not over observing... I like to keep my sanity for the coming season lol
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97 pages ... absolutly amazing!
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Quoting Grothar:



Thanks Dan. That was the big event, funny, but I was just going to post this

Link


LOL Hmmmm, my cast iron plants don't look like that.
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4828. Ossqss
Quoting Levi32:


Geostationary satellites positioned directly over the equator cannot see poles, which are surfaces at a 90-degree angle to the satellite. It's like putting your eyes right down at the edge of your desk and trying to see what its top looks like. You can't.


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
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4827. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Levi32:


Geostationary satellites positioned directly over the equator cannot see the poles, which are surfaces at a 90-degree angle to the satellite. It's like putting your eyes right down at the edge of your desk and trying to see what its top looks like. You can't.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53827
4826. pottery
Quoting MrstormX:


Yes a Bertha is possible but in July, not yet. As Levi and 456 have been saying the real threat could be a tropical wave that forms a Dennis-like storm in the Caribbean. But thats still many, many days away so in the mean time I try not to obsess.

I agree about not being obsessive here and now.
But what is actually PREVENTING any of these waves from becoming something else, now?
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Quoting MrstormX:


Yes a Bertha is possible but in July, not yet. As Levi and 456 have been saying the real threat could be a tropical wave that forms a Dennis-like storm in the Caribbean. But thats still many, many days away so in the mean time I try not to obsess.


but weren't people saying "not yet" in late June of 2008 when the models were predicting Bertha to form?
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7685
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


I agree. Really, unless the Bertha name is in play, nothing happens with these waves for another 6 weeks. At least.

And if one of these waves develops in the east Atlantic and gets a name east of 55 W before the summer solstice, I'll change my avatar to a shirted pic!


Yes a Bertha is possible but in July, not yet. As Levi and 456 have been saying the real threat could be a tropical wave that forms a Dennis-like storm in the Caribbean. But thats still many, many days away so in the mean time I try not to obsess.
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Quoting beell:


I think most of us are just noting the fact that these two waves are the first of their kind this year. True blue, Atlantic Tropical Waves.


These waves are scouts to see if the water is warm enough, and if the shear is favorable..then the waves behind follow them...Smart buggers eh?
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4822. Grothar
Quoting PcolaDan:


Here is an article on the Death Valley display of 2005, a rare event. Link



Thanks Dan. That was the big event, funny, but I was just going to post this

Link
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4821. xcool
:)
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
4820. gator23
Quoting MrstormX:


I do too, but I personally like waiting at least a full day. By then it becomes more apparent if it is going to fizzle or hold together.

conditions are ripe. We will see it is very possible.
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4819. beell
Quoting MrstormX:


Personally I believe everyone is overacting to these far off African Waves, lets face it most are going to dissipate. And if any from it will still be days before anybody is really threatened. Its kinda silly, thats just my opinion.


I think most of us are just noting the fact that these two waves are the first of their kind this year. True blue, Atlantic Tropical Waves.
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4818. Levi32
My concern for the African waves is the western Caribbean. They don't develop east of the islands this time of year. The problem is when they start piling up air and building heat in the western Caribbean. Eventually something tends to pop in that situation.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting MrstormX:


Personally I believe everyone is overacting to these far off African Waves, lets face it most are going to dissipate. And if any from it will still be days before anybody is really threatened. Its kinda silly, thats just my opinion.


Because they are unusually robust for early June....which is likely a sign of things to come for this season.
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Quoting MrstormX:


Personally I believe everyone is overacting to these far off African Waves, lets face it most are going to dissipate. And if any from it will still be days before anybody is really threatened. Its kinda silly, thats just my opinion.


The waves themselves never really dissipate, just the convection associated with them
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7685
Quoting gator23:

Well I enjoy tracking them I hope no one is threatened


I do too, but I personally like waiting at least a full day. By then it becomes more apparent if it is going to fizzle or hold together.
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4814. Levi32
Quoting Ossqss:


Hey KOTG, how come there is always a space shuttle silhouette on those. Seems we are not permitted to see the center of the pic's, even on the ice imagery :)

Anybody know how to scare off limpkins? Really need to for they are loud, very loud.....


Geostationary satellites positioned directly over the equator cannot see the poles, which are surfaces at a 90-degree angle to the satellite. It's like putting your eyes right down at the edge of your desk and trying to see what its top looks like. You can't.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Hurricane Hugo came ashore just to the south of me (South Texas). The earliest 'cane I remember was Allen in '80. Then Hugo, had several other small things come close, then Dolly in '08.
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Quoting MrstormX:


Time is never a limiting factor in severe weather, consider last nights outbreak that left 7 people dead, injured many more, and ruined lives. Just because it is night doesn't mean the threat dissipates.


You never told me why. Which was my question.
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4810. gator23
Quoting MrstormX:


Personally I believe everyone is overacting to these far off African Waves, lets face it most are going to dissipate. And if any from it will still be days before anybody is really threatened. Its kinda silly, thats just my opinion.

Well I enjoy tracking them I hope no one is threatened
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Quoting gator23:

For me 2 weeks out is a bit unreasonable especially since the GFS in the early season doesn't do so good with cyclogenesis.


Personally I believe everyone is overacting to these far off African Waves, lets face it most are going to dissipate. And if any from it will still be days before anybody is really threatened. Its kinda silly, thats just my opinion.
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4808. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Ossqss:


Hey KOTG, how come there is always a space shuttle silhouette on those. Seems we are not permitted to see the center of the pic's, even on the ice imagery :)

Anybody know how to scare off limpkins? Really need to for they are loud, very loud.....
not really sure
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53827
4807. Gorty
Hey guys, I really want to get my blog popular on here. So please come and read it and see how it is. I will blog much more regulary so don't worry.

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/Gorty/comment.html?entrynum=2
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Quoting Grothar:


Here you go
Link


Here is an article on the Death Valley display of 2005, a rare event. Link
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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.