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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1156. hydrus
Quoting MrstormX:
Pressure drop being reported by the Mexican Weather Serivce near the BOC system, its dropping fast within the past day it went from 1009.5mb to 1005.5mb. Something to watch for sure!

I have seen some weird weather in the B.O.C. .
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Quoting sarahjola:
I'll ask this again- is it weird that there is a bunch of waves coming off Africa this early.


Yes. Not to mention the general vigor of the waves.
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1154. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
1153. Skyepony (Mod)
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


Steering would take the system off to the NNE and shear is and will be more favorable in the Central and Eastern Gulf than it is in the Western Gulf


The steering could take this potential system to florida, am i right sir? I wonder if it will form into anything?
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Quoting TampaSpin:


No its not weird, but they are alittle further South than normal that does keep them in Warmer waters when they come off. But, cooler waters soon kill anything there after it comes off as the waters are cooler just to the NW!

i have noticed that they die fast once over water. thanks!
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1150. xcool


Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quoting sarahjola:
i think this season is going to be alot of erika storms. the ones that blow up over night and fall apart during the day. have us on our toes and never amount to nothing


Hopefully you're right, but there's not much evidence to indicate that.
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Quoting hydrus:
No. Not at all.

thanks!
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Welcome back Tampa
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting hydrus:
No. Not at all.


actually it is

last season at this time we had 6 tropical waves, the wave coming off tomorrow will be the 16th of the season. Also the last few waves have been stronger than normal for June
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7367
Pressure drop being reported by the Mexican Weather Serivce near the BOC system, its dropping fast within the past day it went from 1009.5mb to 1005.5mb. Something to watch for sure!

Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting sarahjola:
I'll ask this again- is it weird that there is a bunch of waves coming off Africa this early.


No its not weird, but they are alittle further South than normal that does keep them in Warmer waters when they come off. But, cooler waters soon kill anything there after it comes off as the waters are cooler just to the NW!
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1142. hydrus
Quoting sarahjola:
I'll ask this again- is it weird that there is a bunch of waves coming off Africa this early.
No. Not at all.
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Quoting nweatherlover:

Touche!

I don't live down there. I'm up in the Pacific Northwest, but my sis and BIL have a condo in St. Petersburg. I understand that it is tiresome having to evac, but Katrina and Ike were both monsters with lots of warning if you paid attention. There is no excuse for people to ride it out, IMHO.


This goes back to the "which areas should evacuate" discussions. In Florida. it's run from water - hide from wind. Sounds a little generalized, but the idea is to avoid trying to evacuate over a million people and bottle necking the highways. If you live anywhere close to possible storm surge GET OUT!!!! When Ivan came here, 48 hours before landfall people from Mobile to Ft Walton Beach were trying to figure out what to do. You could not find a motel within 200 miles of the coast. North is the only real way to go. If you go east or west you may end up in the worst part if it jogs left or right 12 hours out. There are shelters here, but why leave your house for a shelter locally. Obviously there are exceptions - near water, in trailer, house surrounded by big pine trees. I guess my point is, it's not easy figuring out what to do, not to mention everyone can't just abandon their jobs 2-3 days ahead when the cone is still so big. Plus it's expensive. I could go on, but I already have... :)
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hi pottery,
the water/oil flowing upward was intense. that much to be moving, the pressure must of been very high.
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Evening All.....I just want to think the many of you that sent me the email of support and the posted notes of support. It was really appreciated. I was only trying to help those that wanted a site to watch the CAP. Sorry to Dr. Masters for doing something that he felt was wrong but, the intent was not to draw attention as many think but, to just help those that wanted a feed to watch the OIL SPILL live feeds...SORRY if i did something wrong but, would probably do again if an emergency type situation would ever arise! BANN ME THEN AGAIN!
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I'll ask this again- is it weird that there is a bunch of waves coming off Africa this early.
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1137. xcool


this old .
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
1136. centex
from austin/SA NWS 3PM discussion. Not sure how this relates. -- HOWEVER THE
UPPER LOW PRESENTLY OVER THE SE TX/LA BORDER IS FORECAST TO SLOWLY
RETROGRADE SOUTHWESTWARD ALONG THE TX COAST LATE THIS WEEKEND INTO
EARLY NEXT WEEK. LONG RANGE MODELS NOW IN BETTER AGREEMENT WITH
MOVEMENT OF THE UPPER LOW TO THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY/MEXICO BORDER
BY MONDAY AND THEN LIFTING THE LOW NORTHWARD ALONG THE RIO GRANDE
AND INTO CENTRAL TX BY THE MID WEEK. THIS UPPER LOW WILL INCREASE
RAIN CHANCES FOR NEXT WEEK.
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1135. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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1134. xcool
i'm watch itt
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Whenever there is a big burst of convection in the BOC there is always potential, which is why until the storm physically dies you can't downcast it. This is pretty impressive...
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1130. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
1129. xcool
TexasGulf haha
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Stars are out in Nassau... wonder how long THAT'll last . . . :o)

That Yucatan convection seems more to me an off-spin of EPac activity than anything else....
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1127. xcool
watch in Gulf BOC hmmm
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quoting MrstormX:


May I ask who Joe B is?


Think of 190 lbs of heavily muscled weather forecaster in 10 oz of spandex. Add ear muffs and a chin guard.
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Quoting xcool:
MrstormX come on now.. you know better ;lol


lol no, and if I do im to tired to know.

Edit duh.... Joe Bastardi
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1124. xcool
Joe Bastardi
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
1123. xcool
MrstormX come on now.. you know better ;lol
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
I made a good suggestion on BP.com tonight for a method to contain and retrieve oil that is still leaking around the cap, causing it to upwell rapidly to the surface for contained collection. This method is in addition to the cap, but can be installed without disturbing the existing BOP or header.

Unfortunately, BP's website collects the suggestions... but they don't even offer any sort of incentive. It should be a contest. How about offering to give the idea generator 5% of the oil saved from leaking into the gulf due to following the suggestion. *Free trip to Disney World for 4* or *Free Mediterranean Cruise incl. Airfare* if we use your suggestion. That would do just fine.
Otherwise, helping to prevent 250,000 extra gallons/day from getting into the Gulf is just a feel-good engineering exercise and a community service thingy.

Oh well, at least my suggestion didn't include using a thermonuclear weapon, stuffing anything into the pipe end or having Bruce Willis show up to save the day. I also didn't mention a single thing about pelicans... learned my lesson on THAT one a few weeks ago.


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i think this season is going to be alot of erika storms. the ones that blow up over night and fall apart during the day. have us on our toes and never amount to nothing
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1120. pottery

Here is what could have been...

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Quoting gulfcoastdweller:


oh thanks for the heads up, love his show

BTW and I had asked this before....are you watching Treme on HBO?......I assume you are


Not familier with that one. I'm on (Comcast) HBOHD, ch301, and right now they're replaying the BM show - sound's down this time around. I don't watch many tv shows. News and comedy is about it.
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Quoting xcool:
JOE B WAS TALK ABOUT BOC IN GOM .


May I ask who Joe B is?
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Yes, do tell who. . . .not JFV?
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Ugghhh the Servicio Meteorológico Nacional de Mexico really needs to get their Sabancuy radar online.

Link
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
From a couple of my sources, it doesn't look like it will be an active June. I am thinking a 50/50 chance of having/not having a named storm this month.

By mid July, WATCH OUT! Planet Earth may be chain smoking hurricanes in the Western Hemisphere!!

More days with a named storm on the map than without.
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Quoting gulfcoastdweller:


they need to have PSAs of ppl in the mourge who don't want to evac out

Touche!

I don't live down there. I'm up in the Pacific Northwest, but my sis and BIL have a condo in St. Petersburg. I understand that it is tiresome having to evac, but Katrina and Ike were both monsters with lots of warning if you paid attention. There is no excuse for people to ride it out, IMHO.
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1112. xcool
JOE B WAS TALK ABOUT BOC IN GOM .
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Plus shear tendency in the eastern GOM is increasing:



Thats over the past 24 hours, the next 72 shows an overall decrease.

Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
thanks!
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Oh my god. Looking back through the earliest Dr. Masters blog entries, I found the first wishcaster.
Who?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
The shear map you provided shows that on the Northern Side of the shear it decreases, eventuallt to 10kts and then to 0kts. Thats a window right there, and thats what the GFS is trying to play on. Im not 100% convinced but, over the past few days the GFS has continued to predict this, and now it is starting to happen so I can't downcast it completly. 20% shot at becoming a TD; imo.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
I have to go, good night.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091

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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.