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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1105. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)


AOI/BOC/GOM
MARK
17.6N/92.1W

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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
Plus shear tendency in the eastern GOM is increasing:

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
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 system doesn't even have an MLC, steering is useless at the moment.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Ok, I mean 40 knots, it's still going to shred the system.



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
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
Quoting MrstormX:


Indeed, most shear models are showing a pretty tranquil Gulf within 72 hours. In the mean time a potential storm would probably get shreaded through the shear and redevelop convection on the other side.
Other side? What other side?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Hurricanes101:


The 60 knots of shear is over Mexico and moving westward


Indeed, most shear models are showing a pretty tranquil Gulf within 72 hours. In the mean time a potential storm would probably get shreaded through the shear and redevelop convection on the other side.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting Hurricanes101:


The 60 knots of shear is over Mexico and moving westward
Ok, I mean 40 knots, it's still going to shred the system.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting WaterWitch11:
what did levi say about the "blob" coming into the gom? anyone?


He told me personally yesterday, that in the next 3 days there was a possability of some tropical disturbance associated with a 1007mb dry low pressure. Vorticity showed this compact system heading across shear and becoming vertically stacked off Houston. You would have to find where he said it yesterday for more info, because I honestly forgot what else he said.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
1095. Ossqss
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Oh, I just used imageshack, mt bad, but you get the point.


Oh, I think we all get the point, we just want to follow it to the source if necessary and validate things. You are dealing with some old folks on here, not me though :) Out>>
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8192
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I still don't understand how any area of vorticity can survive 60 knot vertical shear, but I guess the GFS does. I'm not buying the GFS on this one.


The 60 knots of shear is over Mexico and moving westward
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
Hmmmm.... looks like some ot this energy may come my way tonight.... think I'll go move my car... and yes, we have had some rain, because I am hearing frogs outside my window tonight.... lol

BRB
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
Video taken by Guerra Family during and after Hurricane Katrina.

Chalmette,Louisiana


The Surge came up in 23 Minutes to the roofline.



Hi Pat,
Just came on the blog and saw your post which touches on something I've been wondering about, and that is just how fast is the record rise in time for storm surge? Is there a top 10 list? haven't done any research on it myself yet (obviously); with your post I thought, if anyone knows...

PS - Tonight's Bill Mahr show (HBO), at the end of "New Rules" has a great, hilarious commentary on Global Warming.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Hurricanes101:


It actually does not have negative convergence, that is on the southern side in the EPAC

My bad, I messed up the location.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
is it weird to see so many waves coming off Africa
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MrstormX:


Looking at GFS vorticity models for a minute, the 18z run shows this storm as being weak through the first 24 hours, then all of the sudden vorticity restrengthens on the opposite side of the shear near Houston at around 48hours. But given this happend sooner then expected, its probably more like 36 hours.

See:

Link
I still don't understand how any area of vorticity can survive 60 knot vertical shear, but I guess the GFS does. I'm not buying the GFS on this one.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
This flare up of convection in the BOC is just divergence, it has negative convergence associated with it so not much going on there.



It actually does not have negative convergence, that is on the southern side in the EPAC

Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
what did levi say about the "blob" coming into the gom? anyone?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
He said "the low is supposed to stay over water" which sounds like it's over water at the moment, but whatever. And you said that the track of where it goes is important, and it is, but when it's about to go in to a pocket of 40 knot vertical shear and then 60 knots track really isn't important in this scenario, it's just going to die regardless if it moves over water.



Looking at GFS vorticity models for a minute, the 18z run shows this storm as being weak through the first 24 hours, then all of the sudden vorticity restrengthens on the opposite side of the shear near Houston at around 48hours. But given this happend sooner then expected, its probably more like 36 hours.

See:

Link
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting Ossqss:


I understand. This is where your picture came from for the blog viewing. Just saying, if it exists, provide it from its source, not a copy of such :)

http://img188.imageshack.us/img188/3268/100000000000032f0000022.png
Oh, I just used imageshack, mt bad, but you get the point.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
This flare up of convection in the BOC is just divergence, it has negative convergence associated with it so not much going on there.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
On the FL - Grand Bahama Blob....

THE ATLANTIC OCEAN...
AN UPPER LEVEL SHORTWAVE IS COMING OUT OF THE FLORIDA PENINSULA
SUPPORTING AN AREA OF SCATTERED MODERATE TO HEAVY SHOWERS AND
POSSIBLE THUNDERSTORMS WEST OF 76W. A SURFACE TROUGH IS ALSO
NEAR THIS REGION CROSSING THE BAHAMAS FROM NORTHEAST TO
SOUTHWEST ALONG 28N74W 25N76W 22N78W. SCATTER WEAK SHOWERS TO
ISOLATED HEAVY SHOWERS ARE FOUND WITHIN 35 NM ON EITHER SIDE OF
THE LINE. MODEL DATA INDICATES DIFFLUENCE FLOW ALOFT OVER THE
WESTERN ATLANTIC...SUPPORTING A BROAD AREA OF SCATTERED SHOWERS
AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS FROM 20N TO 25N BETWEEN 60W AND 70W.
COMPUTER MODELS SHOW THIS AREA OF CONVECTION WILL LINGER OVER
THE NEXT 24 TO 36 HOURS. TO THE EAST OF THIS AREA OF
CONVECTION...A SURFACE TROUGH IS ANALYZED ALONG 27N44W 30N50W
18N55W. MODERATE TO ISOLATED MODERATE CONVECTION IS FOUND WITHIN
50 NM ON EITHER SIDE OF THE SURFACE TROUGH. THIS SURFACE TROUGH
IS EXPECTED TO LINGER NEAR THE SAME REGION AS THE CONVECTION
WEAKENS OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS. NO SIGNIFICANT WEATHER IS
OCCURRING OR EXPECTED TO DEVELOP ELSEWHERE ACROSS THE ATLANTIC
OVER THE NEXT 12 TO 18 HOURS.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1082. Ossqss
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
That wasn't my own creation. It's from this website:

ImpactWeather


I understand. This is where your picture came from for the blog viewing. Just saying, if it exists, provide it from its source, not a copy of such :)

http://img188.imageshack.us/img188/3268/100000000000032f0000022.png
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8192
Quoting gulfcoastdweller:


dang MH09, this was the first graph I saw this morning and it will be the last one I see tonight........an omen? LOL
LOL.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1080. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)


AOI/BOC/GOM
MARK
XXN/XXW
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
They should use that video as a public service announcement for all those folks that don't want to leave when they are staring down a Cat 4 or 5!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ossqss:


Please, don't link stuff to a personal web site. We need accuracy from sourced, verified sources. Or provide the source link. Thanks!
That wasn't my own creation. It's from this website:

ImpactWeather
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1076. Ossqss
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Make one on the highest risk areas this year. For example one like this:



Please, don't link stuff to a personal web site. We need accuracy from sourced, verified sources. Or provide the source link. Thanks!
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8192
That part of the BOC is indeed a crattle for tropical activity, given the shear at most a tropical storm could form but never downcast and rule out a tropical depression/storm. Over the years that spot has formed systems like '99s Bret, '08s Marco and many more.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting MrstormX:


Technically he said it is going to move over water, its not there yet. But often big bursts of convectivity in the Gulf = tropical weather. Shear is a factor, but alot depends on the track of the convection through the gulf.
He said "the low is supposed to stay over water" which sounds like it's over water at the moment, but whatever. And you said that the track of where it goes is important, and it is, but when it's about to go in to a pocket of 40 knot vertical shear and then 60 knots track really isn't important in this scenario, it's just going to die regardless if it moves over water.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Saw an excellent example today of orographic lifting; drove through a cut in a range of hills here on New Providence; on one side, dry as a bone - on the other, raining like it was going out of style.

Then earlier this evening I watched that line of showers move over the Gulf Stream and begin to blow up. So now I can't remember the wx terminology for storm / cloud formation due to a cooler air mass passing over warmer waters . . . orographic lift is stuck in my mind.... lol

This overnight activity is just evidence of MJO negative phase, isn't it? Nothing seems to be showing surface rotation....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
hope is all we have at this moment
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1070. JamesSA
Hey, the cap on the oil leak is looking a little better now. It isn't moving much and there is more of the fins showing. Perhaps there is hope!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The low isn't over water, unless you're going against surface analysis, satellite imagery, and vorticity maps.


Technically he said it is going to move over water, its not there yet. But often big bursts of convectivity in the Gulf = tropical weather. Shear is a factor, but alot depends on the track of the convection through the gulf.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting LongGlassTube:
The BOC is certainly a common birthplace for June storms. It bears watching especially this year with a gulf covered in oil. Hopefully shear will rip it apart before it gets a foothold. Shear doesn't affect mature storms as much a those just forming. See Wilma 2005.
If the subtropical jetstream is still in place in the BOC it's more a casket than a genesis for tropical development to occur.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Hurricanes101:


the low is supposed to stay over water, however the leftover energy may mix with the tropical wave and surface trof as they all will be in the Central Gulf at the same time

That is what Levi was talking about yesterday
The low isn't over water, unless you're going against surface analysis, satellite imagery, and vorticity maps.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
The BOC is certainly a common birthplace for June storms. It bears watching especially this year with a gulf covered in oil. Hopefully shear will rip it apart before it gets a foothold. Shear doesn't affect mature storms as much a those just forming. See Wilma 2005.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AllStar17:


Well, as of now, there's nothing to do any on.
Make one on the highest risk areas this year. For example one like this:

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Hurricanes101:


the low is supposed to stay over water, however the leftover energy may mix with the tropical wave and surface trof as they all will be in the Central Gulf at the same time

That is what Levi was talking about yesterday


Yes it appears Levi was right, at least so far... given the GFS has developed this before I am definitly keeping a close eye on it.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
1062. Patrap
Video taken by Guerra Family during and after Hurricane Katrina.

Chalmette,Louisiana


The Surge came up in 23 Minutes to the roofline.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1061. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
AOI/BOC/GOM

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Be patient, when the conditions get right it will look like somebody flipped a switch. NOAA could find themselves tracking 4 to 5 systems at a time. Even if we have a late, late start that doesn't mean a busted season. Andrew in 1992 was my first lesson as a homeowner about what a storm can do. Sitting in the dark with a leaking roof and sawing trees off my house isn't my idea of a bust. I don't think we have to wait till August though.


Quoting AllStar17:


Yes and I can't stress enough the fact that just because we don't have storm yet that it means the season is a bust. Everyone needs to stay prepared!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
If I recall Arlene of 2005, formed in a high shear environment... similiar to the BOC blob, id have to check the records but this is a major flare up. And that particular location has been popular with past storms.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yeah It's an area of low pressure of 1007 MB that was supposed to release some energy into the GOM and it's currently doing that, but no development is expected whatsoever.


the low is supposed to stay over water, however the leftover energy may mix with the tropical wave and surface trof as they all will be in the Central Gulf at the same time

That is what Levi was talking about yesterday
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Agreed.LOL, go ahead.


Well, as of now, there's nothing to do any on.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AllStar17:


Yes and I can't stress enough the fact that just because we don't have storm yet that it means the season is a bust. Everyone needs to stay prepared!
Agreed.
Quoting AllStar17:


I'm itching to make more graphics, though! LOL
LOL, go ahead.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194

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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.

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