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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1006. hydrus
,
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:
What's going on ??
It sounds like a "Back in Times" party around here LOL.
I joined in Oct, 2005. So I am a 'just arrived' compared to some of you freaks.
How's the weather?
LOL, I'm new like a baby, Sep. 2009.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
Eight hours since I last saw it, and the cap's still pouring oil.

Sigh...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Skyepony:
Interesting how the 18Zgfs wants to hold the blob over the Yucatan together & bring it N through the next 4 days into TX. Can't help but Wunder if it hasn't blown up more than the model anticipated. Lotta day time heating & land play there.
Usually systems that form over land then move over water lose their support, and vice versa
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3619
1002. Ossqss
Quoting gator23:


In what sense Ossqss?


Pretty much if it had changed :) and or thoughts on it or chances? I just got back to the models and data.... chewing it now
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1001. Relix
I've been 5 years here =D!
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Huh. I saw the wind kick up before that line, but I wouldn't have guessed it would snap a tree. Some branches maybe....that sux.

About 3 miles from my house:
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
The BLOB that ate Guatemala...

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ossqss:
Just curious, has this changed?



In what sense Ossqss?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just curious, has this changed?

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What's going on ??
It sounds like a "Back in Times" party around here LOL.
I joined in Oct, 2005. So I am a 'just arrived' compared to some of you freaks.
How's the weather?
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24307
Quoting CaneWarning:


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


yikes! well than yes please leave!
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994. IKE
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


And a cold front had passed through the panhandle...a rarity for August. Spared the rest of the GOM.

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting gator23:


thats why in Florida unless you live in an evac zone STAY PUT!


I live on an island. I'd flood during a tropical storm probably.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I would comment on procrastinating but I think I'll wait a little while. We used to have a blogger that was in their avatar something about procrastinators meeting moved to tomorrow
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Quoting CaneWarning:


I remember evacuating Tampa and heading to Orlando. Oops.


thats why in Florida unless you live in an evac zone STAY PUT!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just waiting for shear to relax Skyepony. I don't think it will be long before blobs like the one near the BOC will get very interesting.




Quoting Skyepony:
Interesting how the 18Zgfs wants to hold the blob over the Yucatan together & bring it N through the next 4 days into TX. Can't help but Wunder if it hasn't blown up more than the model anticipated. Lotta day time heating & land play there.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:

Never had to urge to count the hours spent in here that I could have used on something more constructive, myself...but that must just be me.

Like right now...procrastinating.


Yup, missed my meeting tonight, LoL :)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Sky I mentioned earlier they are going to have come up with a new water temperature scale esp.for the Bay of Campeche. It's of the wall,the chain or whatever,
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Saw something earlier that said Hayward had stepped down from the oil gusher response, I think that was misinterpreted:

Hayward announced that BP will create a separate stand-alone organisation to manage the long-term response once the spill is over. Managing Director Bob Dudley will lead this new organisation reporting directly to the Group Chief Executive.


Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I don't exactly remember when I started reading this blog, but my Avatar pic was loaded in July 2004. My kids on the jetski with me are in high school now! I had more hair then as well, I think I'll keep my old pic.


Quoting CaneWarning:


I got beaten up with my old shirtless avatar.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:


I remember looking at the satellite of Charlie and seeing it heading for SW Florida. I remember typing in Punta Gorde,FL...and was taken back by the barometer reading and the winds.


I remember evacuating Tampa and heading to Orlando. Oops.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
982. IKE
Quoting CaneWarning:


I was coming to WU then too. I sure wish we had blogs back then.


I remember looking at the satellite of Charlie and seeing it heading for SW Florida. I remember typing in Punta Gorde,FL...and was taken back by the barometer reading and the winds.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
981. xcool



Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
Quoting atmoaggie:

We do commonly rag on the newbies that show up with a shirtless avatar...why would we just let any one of us slide?


I got beaten up with my old shirtless avatar.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
08/08 but I was lurking much longer, most probably wish I still was. Hey but I have enjoyed this blog so much thanks to you all.
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Miamihurricane i predicted almost same thing man lol
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Quoting IKE:



I remember being on WU when Charlie hit. I guess there weren't any blogs on WU in 2004, but I do remember how difficult it was to download and get on WU.


I was coming to WU then too. I sure wish we had blogs back then.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
976. Skyepony (Mod)
Interesting how the 18Zgfs wants to hold the blob over the Yucatan together & bring it N through the next 4 days into TX. Can't help but Wunder if it hasn't blown up more than the model anticipated. Lotta day time heating & land play there.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting gordydunnot:
Well evidently earlier today there were a lot of people upset with your rippling muscles.J/k for clarification see Bruce Lee's Return of the Dragon my favorite Lee film.

We do commonly rag on the newbies that show up with a shirtless avatar...why would we just let any one of us slide?
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
974. IKE
Quoting largeeyes:


Best part?
"So ordinarily, I would say that this storm is probably nothing to worry about; conditions are marginal because sea surface temperatures are fairly cool over the mid-Atlantic. I've seen tropical depressions like this one fizzle and die many times. But I've learned my lesson. This is the hurricane season of 2005--and I fully expect this storm (soon to be named Emily) will become another major hurricane that will threaten the Caribbean and U.S. That's a pretty bold statement for a mere tropical depression in July way out over the open Atlantic, and statistically, the odds of me being correct are probably less than 20%. I hope the statistics are right, and I am wrong. But this is the hurricane season of 2005. The normal rules do not apply."

What happened? Emily struck the Yucatan penninsula as a cat 4 hurricane. It broke Dennis's 6 day old record for strongest pre-August hurricane on record with 160-mph winds on July 16. Kudos Dr. Masters.


He kept saying what I put in bold...all season. It was one of his favorite sayings of 2005.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
I was posting back before Katrina, but for the life of me can't remember the screen name I used.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
932. StSimon.... Interesting that HurricaneKing is one of the surviving pre-Katrina-ites..... It was Wilma made me post in here the first time. Having been involved in the blog consistently since season '06, it's getting pretty hard to remember tracking stuff without blogging about it or reading the analyses here...

I think best blogging practices during the most active periods might involve pple who post when their area is affected, but otherwise don't clutter the blog with general chitchat. Somebody is always encouraging the use of the chat feature for the more social activities, and I hope we can have a record broken for most in the chat room. [I also hope we can keep more of the genuine "chatting" in there and leave the main blog for observations, but that's almost impossible to accomplish... lol].

It will be interesting to see not only what the season holds but also how the blog evolves in response....
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Thanks 965
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The two go hand in hand.



Quoting IKE:
Blog is like the Atlantic...dead.

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Quoting IKE:


44 comments in a day and a half.


Best part?
"So ordinarily, I would say that this storm is probably nothing to worry about; conditions are marginal because sea surface temperatures are fairly cool over the mid-Atlantic. I've seen tropical depressions like this one fizzle and die many times. But I've learned my lesson. This is the hurricane season of 2005--and I fully expect this storm (soon to be named Emily) will become another major hurricane that will threaten the Caribbean and U.S. That's a pretty bold statement for a mere tropical depression in July way out over the open Atlantic, and statistically, the odds of me being correct are probably less than 20%. I hope the statistics are right, and I am wrong. But this is the hurricane season of 2005. The normal rules do not apply."

What happened? Emily struck the Yucatan penninsula as a cat 4 hurricane. It broke Dennis's 6 day old record for strongest pre-August hurricane on record with 160-mph winds on July 16. Kudos Dr. Masters.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Quoting IKE:



I remember being on WU when Charlie hit. I guess there weren't any blogs on WU in 2004, but I do remember how difficult it was to download and get on WU.

I lurked since '04 dont recall when I actually first posted/registered. Im quite paranoid about anything similar to an online chatroom (hell Im paranoid about .. anything) so it took me a while to jump in.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting gordydunnot:
Hey I am bad with times how do you find out when you first materialized on the blog.


Click on "Settings" at the top, should be on the right hand side.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting gordydunnot:
Hey I am bad with times how do you find out when you first materialized on the blog.

Never had to urge to count the hours spent in here that I could have used on something more constructive, myself...but that must just be me.

Like right now...procrastinating.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
962. IKE
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
I've always been a contributor, Gordydunnot. Not a troublemaker. Why lil ole me causing trouble?

I found Ike's earliest comment on June 10th. No one else posting today goes back earlier.



I remember being on WU when Charlie hit. I guess there weren't any blogs on WU in 2004, but I do remember how difficult it was to download and get on WU.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting PcolaDan:
Finally got a video. From Pensacola Beach near the Ft Pickens gate. My foot which I used for size reference is size 9 1/2. Yes that is my flip flop tan line. :)



Are those "tar balls"? It doesn't look like some of the oil I've seen on the coastline.
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Hey I am bad with times how do you find out when you first materialized on the blog.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Well evidently earlier today there were a lot of people upset with your rippling muscles.J/k for clarification see Bruce Lee's Return of the Dragon my favorite Lee film.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalWave:


7 for Sept., wow.
Yeah.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Oh my god. I went back through the previous blog entries---it was pretty easy since several have 5 comments or less---and I *really* was the first one to ask that question!

Years after it began to be covered in college courses on the subject...just sayin' ;-)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Would anyone here believe that the most active month in 2005 was October not September. Well I would believe it but I would think September would have more
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193

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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.