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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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
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yeah I think so too. I doubt we'll exceed 1 named storm before July 1st. After that here are my prdictions:

June: 1
July: 3
August: 4
September: 7
October: 3
November: 1
December: 1

Total of 20. Someone write down this post, I want to know if I'm anywhere near close at the end of the season.


I will break it down and say

June: 1
July: 3
August: 5
September: 6
October: 3
November: 1

Total: 19
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7685
Quoting BahaHurican:
50 comments a minute=hyperbole, not statistics...

And the doc usually posts 2 blogs daily when things get really active here. We still topped out near 10000 posts daily while Ike was going on. With a hyperactive season forecast and improvements in blog technology, I wouldn't be surprised to see 15000 posts daily in here, especially in August or early September before school gets too busy....
That's true.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
.
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Quoting stormhank:
im guessing at least one storm by june 25th,,,prob really ramp up by mid july just my opinion
Yeah I think so too. I doubt we'll exceed 1 named storm before July 1st. After that here are my prdictions:

June: 1
July: 3
August: 4
September: 7
October: 3
November: 1
December: 1

Total of 20. Someone write down this post, I want to know if I'm anywhere near close at the end of the season.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
949. Relix
I expected a storm already to be honest. Maybe this is a "sleeping giant" case?
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
50 comments a minute?!?! That's crazy. Let's do some math:

50 comments * 60 minutes = 3000 comments

So that means if we get 50 comments a minute you'll be getting 3000 comments in an hour.

3000 comments in an hour * 24 hours of the day = 72000 comments

I don't think the website would survive 70,000 comments in one blog entry in just 1 day.
50 comments a minute=hyperbole, not statistics...

And the doc usually posts 2 blogs daily when things get really active here. We still topped out near 10000 posts daily while Ike was going on. With a hyperactive season forecast and improvements in blog technology, I wouldn't be surprised to see 15000 posts daily in here, especially in August or early September before school gets too busy....
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Quoting cyclonekid:
Random Question:
What causes a "Pinwheel Eye" like this one...

This is Hurricane Ophelia '05



There are vortices in the eye wall that end up in the eye. That can lead to various cloud patterns inside the eye.
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A trouble maker from the beginning St. Simonguy.
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Quoting stormhank:
im guessing at least one storm by june 25th,,,prob really ramp up by mid july just my opinion


It's as good a guess as any Hank...
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Quoting TexasGulf:
My prediction for busiest day this season is 8500/4100/150.

8500 = # Posts
4100 = # Posts relevant to a Hurricane
150 = # Major Posts (really relevant)

200 = # Troll Sightings
80 = # Fake "help-me" blogs
18 = # JFV pseudo-name identities posting in one day.
Really? You have Drakoen, Levi32, StormW, KmanIslander, and bunch more. I think we will exceed 10000 posts, maybe 1000 of those really relevant half of them not so relevant.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
im guessing at least one storm by june 25th,,,prob really ramp up by mid july just my opinion
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We are tracking 3 weak tropical waves along 25 west, along 40 west and along 55 west. Strong westerly upper level winds continue to dominate this basin north of 20 north creating strong shear. South of 20 north the shear drops off and water temperatures are very warm. This leads to favorable conditions for development. However, the tropical waves we are tracking have no signs of organization. Computer forecast models continue to show no signs of development through at least Monday. Based on this we believe the Atlantic basin will remain relatively quiet through the weekend into early next week.

By AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski

I agree completely.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
And it was in comment #3 of entry #25 that I dropped the bomb in wunderground. I didn't mean to. I swear! Link


Geez, if I had known that I would have put you on ignore years ago, lmao
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


Well I meant the strongest June, July, August, September, October, and November landfalls in the USA.

And, actually this is the 1501st blog entry by Dr. Masters. There is a blog zero. Unfortunately, the first comment has been deleted, which may have been portentous.

Dr. Master's first blog entry.

I wonder who wrote the first comment, and what it said.


First!
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My prediction for busiest day this season is 8500/4100/150.

8500 = # Posts
4100 = # Posts relevant to a Hurricane
150 = # Major Posts (really relevant)

200 = # Troll Sightings
80 = # Fake "help-me" blogs
18 = # JFV pseudo-name identities posting in one day.
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937. IKE
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
And it was in comment #3 of entry #25 that I dropped the bomb in wunderground. I didn't mean to. I swear! Link


44 comments in a day and a half.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Interesting to see Ophelia. I live almost at the spot it made landfall on the OBX. Made me research its effects here.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Did anyone know that this is Jeff Masters' 1500th blog?


He hasn't written all of them.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
And it was in comment #3 of entry #25 that I dropped the bomb in wunderground. I didn't mean to. I swear! Link
LMAO!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
933. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Advisory Number THIRTY-FIVE
SEVERE CYCLONIC STORM PHET (ARB02-2010)
2:30 AM IST June 5 2010
=======================================

At 21:00 PM UTC, Severe Cyclonic Storm Phet over northwest Arabian Sea moved northeast and lays centered near 23.5N 60.0E, or about 100 kms northeast of Sur, Oman, 900 kms west of Naliya, Gujarat, and 750 kms west southwest of Karachi, Pakistan.

3 minute sustained winds near the center is 55 knots with a central pressure of 986 hPa. The state of the sea is very high around the system's center.

Satellite imagery shows broken intense to very intense convection over southwest Pakistan and Arabian Sea north of 21.0N and west of 64.0E. The lowest cloud top temperature due to convection is -60C in association with the system.

Vertical wind shear of horizontal wind over the region is low to moderate. The wind shear is moderate to high to the northeast of the system. The system lies north of a tropospheric ridge, which roughly runs along 21.0N over the region.

Available observations and numerical weather prediction model guidance suggest that the system would weaken gradually and move northeastward towards Pakistan coast.

Gale winds of 55-60 knots gusting to 65 knots would occur along and off Oman coast during the next 12 hours. Gale winds of 45-50 knots gusting to 55 knots would occur along and off Makran coast during the next 24 hours. Sea conditions will be very high along and off this coast.

Forecast and Intensity
========================
9 HRS: 24.0N 62.0E - 50 knots (Severe Cyclonic Storm)
21 HRS: 24.5N 63.0E - 35 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
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931. xcool
TropicalWave hey
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
Quiet blog and Atlantic likely to stay that way for at least the next week.

Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
I've been lurking since 2007. I don't comment especially when there is an active storm because there many that know much more than I. It's better the read/listen then throw my two cents in.
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925. IKE
I remember when Charlie was making landfall in SW Florida, I couldn't download the radar, but on rare occasions.

I remember other major systems where it was an issue posting here on WU.

There's no problems posting now. Enjoy it while it lasts before it heats up.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
I started commenting here during hurricane Dennis. Blogging came a few months later.
I started posting in September 09' but been lurking since Felix (2007). Yeah I'm a newbie.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
I still remember Dennis. We tracked him just like all the gulf storms. In Louisiana we can only remember Katrina and Rita now for 2005.


Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
The strongest hurricanes to make landfall in the USA, by month, from 1851 to present. Ranked by barometric pressure at landfall.

June 1957 Audrey 945 mb
July 2005 Dennis 946 mb
Aug. 1969 Camille 909 mb
Sept 1935 'Labor Day' 892 mb
Oct. 1954 Hazel 938 mb (tied with Brunswick GA 1898 hurricane)
Nov. 1985 Kate 967 mb

Poor Dennis! Strongest July landfall we know about, and yet seems half forgotten.
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Random Question:
What causes a "Pinwheel Eye" like this one...

This is Hurricane Ophelia '05

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918. IKE
Quoting stormhank:
Is the worst shear suppose to relax by mid june??


I see it coming back in the Caribbean in a week according to the latest GFS. Lets up in the GOM.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
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. :)

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Quoting IKE:


There are more new people posting this year then I've ever seen. It'll be interesting to see how busy it gets when a big threat happens.
10000+ Imo. But that really doesn't matter, what matters is where the big threat is.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
Quoting IKE:


There are more new people posting this year then I've ever seen. It'll be interesting to see how busy it gets when a big threat happens.


Yeah, I've enjoyed some of the new folks. :)
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Well I haven't checked that daily figure. So I could be wrong. But I am sure I remember Dr. Master's blog getting 7,000+ comments in a day when Ike was in the Gulf.


I don't think that blog was up a whole 24 hours either.
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913. IKE
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
There have been over 7,000 comments on Dr. Master's blog in one day, during the approach of hurricane Ike to the Texas coast.


There are more new people posting this year then I've ever seen. It'll be interesting to see how busy it gets when a big threat happens.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
There have been over 7,000 comments on Dr. Master's blog in one day, during the approach of hurricane Ike to the Texas coast.


Yeah, that was crazy.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
There have been over 7,000 comments on Dr. Master's blog in one day, during the approach of hurricane Ike to the Texas coast.
They were all removed.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
I should've realized nwf.org was that National Wildlife Foundation. I already donate money to them.
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Dallas-Ft Worth, TX Air Quality is nasty today:

Current Conditions
Air Quality Index (AQI)
observed at 19:00 CDT
142 Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
Health Message: Active children and adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.
AQI - Pollutant Details
Ozone 142 Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
Particles (PM2.5) 36 Good

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Quoting lavinia:



Another site I was told about

nwf.org


Thanks, I'll check it out!
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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.