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 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
Holy crap, that GOM disturbance came out of nowhere, looks like the GFS vorticity and Levi were right. Wow
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Just a little bit. Yeah seems like it will decrease somewhat in the southern GOM in the next 72 hours but shouldn't "vanish". It should go away completely either mid/late June.


I'm itching to make more graphics, though! LOL
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Quoting tropicaltank:
Any interest in the BOC Blob?


Not really.
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1052. Patrap
Summer is here in ernest..

944
fxus64 klix 042043
afdlix


Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service New Orleans la
343 PM CDT Friday Jun 4 2010


Synopsis...low pressure over southern Louisiana will lift to the
northeast tonight as it fills. An upper low over southeast Texas
will slowly migrate to the east Saturday and lift out Saturday
night. This will bring showers and thunderstorms across the area
as it crosses. A weak ridge will build across the area Sunday
bringing warmer temperature to the region. The ridge will remain
in place through the week.


&&


Short term...Friday night through Sunday night. Showers and
thunderstorms will lift out of the region this evening as the
surface low lifts to the NE and fills. Tonight should be fair
through the region. An upper low over southeast Texas will move to the
east Saturday bringing more showers and thunderstorms to the
region as it crosses. Models continue to be in agreement with fair
cape and lifted indice's for convective activity. If the low slows
slightly...early daytime heating could provide a bit more
instability to generate strong thunderstorms for Saturday.
Convection is expected to taper out Saturday night. However as
the upper low ejects to the NE...a trailing trough will remain
over the area on Sunday. This will provide a focus for more
convection Sunday afternoon. This should be more garden variety
convection and fire mainly off of daytime heating. Sunday will
begin to show the heat as a weak ridge begins to bump up against
the lingering trough. Convection is expected to taper early in the
evening. Bfg


Long term...by early in the week the upper trough will erode as
an upper ridge takes over. Models are in fair agreement with this
pattern. However...beyond Tuesday model disagreement begins as the GFS
wants to bring in a slightly deeper trough further south and a bit
more to the west than other models. There were no significant
changes made to the ongoing forecast in the long range...leaving
the ridge in place over the central portions of the US and warm
humid southerly conditions over the southeast Louisiana. Any convection
that develops through the week will be off the sea breeze.

The moral of the story for next week is hot and humid.

Bfg


&&


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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Just a little bit. Yeah seems like it will decrease somewhat in the southern GOM in the next 72 hours but shouldn't "vanish". It should go away completely either mid/late June.


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!
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Any interest in the BOC Blob?
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You know it's going to be a bad hurricane season when...

REA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LAKE CHARLES LA
822 PM CDT FRI JUN 4 2010

.UPDATE...WILL ALLOW THE SCEC TO EXPIRE IN A COUPLE OF HOURS OVER
THE EASTERN WATERS AS SUPPORTED BY CURRENT MSAS ANALYSIS AS WELL
AS THE UPDATED GFS WINDS. ONLY A TWEAK LOWERING OF POPS FOR SE TX,
SW LA, AND W CEN LA AS THE EVENING LCH RAOB SOUNDING HAS A DRIER
PW OF 1.9 INCHES THAN THE FCSTD 2.1. RADAR SHOWING GOOD SPACING
NOW ON THE SHOWER ACTIVITY WITH LOSS OF HEATING. ONLY A TWEAK UP A
DEGREE ON TEMPS ACROSS THE NRN ZONES AS CLOUD COVER AND LOW TO MID
70S DEW POINTS, HIGHER THAN GUIDANCE. A SIMILAR DAY ON TAP FOR SATURDAY.

&&

.DISCUSSION...RUC AND SURFACE ANALYSIS SHOW THE STACKED LOW
FILLING AS IT DRIFTS EASTWARD AROUND LAKE CHARLES. RADAR LOOP OUT
OF POE SHOWS A WEAK CIRCULATION CENTER BETWEEN OAKDALE AND
DERIDDER. GFS TEMP ANALYSIS SHOWS AN UNEXPECTED WARM CORE TO THIS
INLAND SYSTEM. BANDS MOVING ONSHORE WERE SPINNING UP SHORT LIVED TROPICAL
FUNNELS WHICH HAVE BEEN REPORTED SOUTH OF I-10 THIS EVENING
INCLUDING AT THIS OFFICE. UPDATED GRIDS ALREADY OUT.


I think we may be in trouble when these things actually get over water.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


There is quite a bit of 700mb vorticity though
Just a little bit.
Quoting AllStar17:


Shear will be dropping soon in the GOM, though.
Yeah seems like it will decrease somewhat in the southern GOM in the next 72 hours but shouldn't "vanish". It should go away completely either mid/late June.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting gulfcoastdweller:


oh Chick, you better hope Pat isn't awake, seeing ur post.........lol
Hey, GCD.
Check out the vorticity over LA on the shear map. A lotta torque but not much convection.
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72 hr shear forecast
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is there a high somewhere causing it
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1044. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Patrap:
An alert blogger noted that BP's Net feed has been HACKED/HIJACKED.


Check it out..
sometimes things have to be done
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54338
why is there so much rotation over the gulf?
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Quoting Chicklit:
So much to watch, so little time...


Wow, check the spin over LA. GOMLoop
The whole loop makes me dizzy!
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.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
This area over Mexico is just a nighttime flare of convection and is not showing any signs of developing some sort of 850 MB vorticity or for that fact intensification. And if it does develop a closed low (Which stands about a 1%) it will be sheared in the GOM. I do not expect development from this. Elsewhere I don't see anything really "jumping" out so I pretty much do not expect any tropical development in the next 3 days.



Shear will be dropping soon in the GOM, though.
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1040. Patrap
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Hey GCD I'm your neighbor to the west. I live near Lake Ponchatrain. I know what you mean about living it. We were all ripped up but had no idea how bad it was in NOLA or MS other than what we heard on WWL 870. When I finally got a TV up an running, we were horrified and started searching for relatives down in Saint Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. We became a shelter after we found them. We cried a lot, drank a lot of beer, cooked a lot of good food, enjoyed each others company and thanked God to be alive.


Quoting gulfcoastdweller:


though I haven't gone thru every link ( I really don't need to, I am in Biloxi and lived thru the whole thing) I only find 2 names I reconize...stormjunkie and Jup.....who are still on this blog today

still, thanks for posting this, it really hits ya in the head for the upcoming season
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
This area over Mexico is just a nighttime flare of convection and is not showing any signs of developing some sort of 850 MB vorticity or for that fact intensification. And if it does develop a closed low (Which stands about a 1%) it will be sheared in the GOM. I do not expect development from this. Elsewhere I don't see anything really "jumping" out so I pretty much do not expect any tropical development in the next 3 days.



There is quite a bit of 700mb vorticity though
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7816
This area over Mexico is just a nighttime flare of convection and is not showing any signs of developing some sort of 850 MB vorticity or for that fact intensification. And if it does develop a closed low (Which stands about a 1%) it will be sheared in the GOM. I do not expect development from this. Elsewhere I don't see anything really "jumping" out so I pretty much do not expect any tropical development in the next 3 days.

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


StormJunkie is around. He was in last night.


Cool! I still use his site to look up stuff.

I remember the early days of JFV. Wasn't his girlfriend pregnant back then. Scary thought. . . .now there are two of them! LOL
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It's hard to believe how much longer it took to do things just back in 2005 and earlier. I remember all too well trying to open JAVA loops with dial-up internet. You would start the loop loading then go off and wash dishes or something for 10 minutes. If you were lucky it was rolling and not locked up needing a refresh and another 10 minutes of loading. All the pics and graphs that people post on the blog today would have made it next to impossible to load up as well. Most people just provided a link so that it would run a little better and you only looked at the link if you wanted to dedicate the time to it.
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wow guys look at that AOI in the BOC somethink to watch during the weekend and week ahead
but for us down here I say WE NEED RAIN WE NEED RAIN WE NEED RAIN
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Huh. I saw the wind kick up before that line, but I wouldn't has guessed it would snap a tree. Some branches maybe....that sux.

About 3 miles from my house:


WOW!! And that right there is why I have to evacuate for a hurricane too. I got rid of 13 of those, but neighbors still have some that could hit my house.
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So much to watch, so little time...


Wow, check the spin over LA. GOMLoop
The whole loop makes me dizzy!
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Wow, look at the blob in the BOC and the one moving south over the Gulf Stream east of Florida:

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1026. Patrap
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Quoting nweatherlover:


WoW! Those posts bring back a lot of memories. I didn't post, just lurked. It's so heartbreaking to think back to those days when you could see what was going to happen and couldn't stop it!!! I still don't post only the odd comment and stay off the blog totally when it's busy. Where's StormJunkie these days?


StormJunkie is around. He was in last night.
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GEFS verified very well this past week.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
CaneWarning, look through the Katrina Chronicles. If you were here, you're in there.

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WoW! Those posts bring back a lot of memories. I didn't post, just lurked. It's so heartbreaking to think back to those days when you could see what was going to happen and couldn't stop it!!! I still don't post only the odd comment and stay off the blog totally when it's busy. Where's StormJunkie these days?
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Quoting KoritheMan:


HouseofGryffindor?


That's me.
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For some reason my "link" option isn't working. Is it a MAC thing or just me?
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Quoting zoomiami:
Canewarning - wasn't is something that had Gryfindor in it?


HouseofGryffindor?
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Quoting zoomiami:
Canewarning - wasn't is something that had Gryfindor in it?


Yep, that was me. I actually had an earlier name than that though but forgot it after Katrina since I didn't come back to the blog after that for a while.
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This is an interesting thing I just found on Google. A one meter rise in the ocean puts the whole island under water...now that's why evacuate when anything comes close. :)

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.architecture2030.org/images/current/sealevel/DavisIs landsFL.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.architecture2030.org/current_situation/research/sea_level/davis_isl ands_fl.html&h=296&w=550&sz=190&tbnid=CjlPzAfEMkhxeM:&tbnh=72&tbnw=133&prev=/images%3Fq%3DDavis%2BIs lands&hl=en&usg=__gI1fKCpsVvcMHCyhNL8wunS-2BA=&sa=X&ei=dLYJTMa7CY-_lAeoob28Bg&ved=0CDcQ9QEwBg
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Canewarning - wasn't is something that had Gryfindor in it?
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1015. Grothar
Quoting CaneWarning:


Davis Islands - downtown Tampa, it's completely man made.


I know it quite well. My mother's family moved to the Tampa area in 1923. You are right in the middle of things. eh?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
CaneWarning, look through the Katrina Chronicles. If you were here, you're in there.

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Yeah, I'll have to search those when I get a chance. I had a name so obscure that I couldn't remember it!
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Another bad day here in RPB. Very ominous looking in the evening. Almost got struck by lightning.
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Let me edit a previous post

0-0-0 & oil still flowing 6-4-10.
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Here's the Wiki link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davis_Islands,_Tampa,_Florida
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Quoting Grothar:


What island do you live on Cane?


Davis Islands - downtown Tampa, it's completely man made.
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nice blow up by the boc. where it heading and is it of any interest?
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1007. Grothar
Quoting CaneWarning:


I live on an island. I'd flood during a tropical storm probably.


What island do you live on Cane?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
1006. hydrus
,
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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.