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 MiamiHurricanes09:
But he said starting at 1851. If you do the math there could be 5 months of hurricanes.

1851 - 2010 = 159

159 * 5 = 795

So the answer would consist of 795 hurricane names.


No he is just saying using the database from 1851 on
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Quoting Dakster:


I am just a realist -- And it was said in jest.

Hopefully, 2010 does not end up making that list.
But he said starting at 1851. If you do the math there could be 5 months of hurricanes.

1851 - 2010 = 159

159 * 5 = 795

So the answer would consist of 795 hurricane names.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting Levi32:


Then it's 5 for 2005 and 6 for 1985.

Alright I'm out.


Katrina made landfall twice. 2005 had 6 landfalls then.
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Atlantic remains quite. I do not expect any development through June 6, 2010.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Too bad people might think that you are a wishcaster for saying that but the fact of the matter is that it could be. You have a negative NAO, and further southwest A/B high, Neutral/La Niña conditions. And on top of that you have a forecasted negative MSLP across the ATL basin, hot SSTs, and a cooling Gulf of Guinea which in turn causes stronger African waves which then causes more precipitation over the Sahel which then lowers SAL.


I am just a realist -- And it was said in jest.

Hopefully, 2010 does not end up making that list.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9674
Quoting gulfcoastdweller:


and lets say they did set off some sort of 'bomb", would it cause a big ripple in the water, thus making more oil come ashore?

It shouldnt. People have a big misconception about nuclear weapons. We have the ability to make them small enough to be around the yeild of a modern High-yield conventional bomb. The difference and importance is that the nuclear option is a much smaller device and thus will be better suited against the pressure as well as being able to pinpoint vast amounts of heat and pressure, and also that there is no necessary combustion, the nuclear reaction is self sustaining until fuel is exhausted.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Are you crazy, the total would be over 100. LOL.


no there would be 12, 1 for each month lol
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Quoting msgambler:
That is why they haven't tried the BOP on BOP yet. It is another quite dangerous procedure due to the weight of the BOP. A friend of mine at Williams has told me that the problem is sitting something that heavy and tall on top of something heavy and tall may tend to to make the BOP on the bottom want to "fall over". And as he stated, " That is the worst thing that could happen". He said if the BOP is broke off then we will have a complete monster because the BOP is holding back pressure at this time.

They make spherical BOP valves that are about the size of the top hat and bolt on to the riser flange. Just one valve, not an entire BOP.

I agree, an entire BOP like what is there now placed on top would be a bad idea.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
OK what are the strongest hurricanes to make landfall in the USA each month, going back to 1851. Rank determined by central pressure.

Give year, pressure, state of landfall and name if applicable.
Are you crazy, the total would be over 100. LOL.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Hurricane Trivia

The storm surge of a hurricane is very destructive. About how much does a cubic foot of sea water weigh in pounds?

A. 8
B. 36
C. 64
D. 11.9084781
c
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Ok, I'll stop.


Hang on I will set up a trivia blog so we have something to do during the slow times of the season

come over to my blog then
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Quoting noshoes:
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Anyone want another question?

No. No more trivia, please.
Ok, I'll stop.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting Dakster:


Too bad the real answer will be 2010...
Too bad people might think that you are a wishcaster for saying that but the fact of the matter is that it could be. You have a negative NAO, and further southwest A/B high, Neutral/La Niña conditions. And on top of that you have a forecasted negative MSLP across the ATL basin, hot SSTs, and a cooling Gulf of Guinea which in turn causes stronger African waves which then causes more precipitation over the Sahel which then lowers SAL.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
I guess we could set up a trivia blog lol
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Anyone want another question?

No. No more trivia, please.
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789. xcool





Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Damn, you're on fire!

You just won this delicious looking cheesecake.



Can't be...


Ate that an hour ago!
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


C 64
Damn, you're on fire!

You just won this delicious looking cheesecake.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting Hurricanes101:
ah forgot about Cindy lol and if its not including US you would have to add Stan to the list too lol

but if it is US landfalls, 2005 had 5 while 1985 had 6



Too bad the real answer will be 2010...
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9674
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Hurricane Trivia

The storm surge of a hurricane is very destructive. About how much does a cubic foot of sea water weigh in pounds?

A. 8
B. 36
C. 64
D. 11.9084781


C 64
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Quoting msgambler:
That is why they haven't tried the BOP on BOP yet. It is another quite dangerous procedure due to the weight of the BOP. A friend of mine at Williams has told me that the problem is sitting something that heavy and tall on top of something heavy and tall may tend to to make the BOP on the bottom want to "fall over". And as he stated, " That is the worst thing that could happen". He said if the BOP is broke off then we will have a complete monster because the BOP is holding back pressure at this time.


On the other hand, there are a number of variations of the BOP which are not much more than large valves which MAY be a viable option if the cut/cao does not work more efficiently than it is now. BP has stated that it does not want to put a Bop on a Bop though that may change. remember this though, they have not yet closed the four vents on the top hat yet, and we may discover that it works quite well when they do. If you recall, the suction tube they were using before would only transfer about 1000 bpd before they ramped it up to 5k bpd, and we hope the same premise applies here.
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Quoting WatchingThisOne:


Not really :-)
Lol.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting msgambler:
That is why they haven't tried the BOP on BOP yet. It is another quite dangerous procedure due to the weight of the BOP. A friend of mine at Williams has told me that the problem is sitting something that heavy and tall on top of something heavy and tall may tend to to make the BOP on the bottom want to "fall over". And as he stated, " That is the worst thing that could happen". He said if the BOP is broke off then we will have a complete monster because the BOP is holding back pressure at this time.

absolutely ...
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Anyone want another question?


Not really :-)
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Hurricane Trivia

The storm surge of a hurricane is very destructive. About how much does a cubic foot of sea water weigh in pounds?

A. 8
B. 36
C. 64
D. 11.9084781
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
I dont think we HAVE to believe anything BP says anymore. I like to think that a relief well will work, about 95% sure it will .... but August doesnt look good ... september looks horrible ...october still looks rough maybe even november... the way it looks to me, the relief wells may take until december to work. (drilling platforms dont do well in eyewalls...)
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ah forgot about Cindy lol and if its not including US you would have to add Stan to the list too lol

but if it is US landfalls, 2005 had 5 while 1985 had 6

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Quoting SouthALWX:

my original post said exactly that. this would be after everything failed, including the relief wells. this is to try to avoid the 24 year worst case scenario leak Ive heard tossed around.
That is why they haven't tried the BOP on BOP yet. It is another quite dangerous procedure due to the weight of the BOP. A friend of mine at Williams has told me that the problem is sitting something that heavy and tall on top of something heavy and tall may tend to to make the BOP on the bottom want to "fall over". And as he stated, " That is the worst thing that could happen". He said if the BOP is broke off then we will have a complete monster because the BOP is holding back pressure at this time.
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you also asked since 1900

and 2005 also had 6 landfalling Hurricanes

Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Beta


Hurricane Cindy in Early July 2005 was upgraded to Cat-1 in the January Post Season analysis.

Hurricane_Cindy

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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Well the 7 hurricanes landfalling in the USA in 1886 is the official figure from HURDAT. And that's the most reliable hurricane database anywhere.
But in my question I said since the 1900s.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Anyone want another question?


Go for it
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Well the 7 hurricanes landfalling in the USA in 1886 is the official figure from HURDAT. And that's the most reliable hurricane database anywhere.


Right but his question said since 1900, so you obviously cant use 1886 as an answer
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Anyone want another question?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
No, only US landfalls.


Well see now you completely changed the question after the fact lol

ok so 1985 it is
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Quoting gulfcoastdweller:

The Miss Sound was open yesterday for shrimping, about 60 boats were out in the sound. I went by a factory today and the shrimp looked good, infact I got a few lbs and they tasted fine....pretty shrimp too

I was asking about Al waters, so do you mean as far east as Destin?


Sure do, I was standing the wrong way round when I wrote that :-)
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
No, only US landfalls.


Then it's 5 for 2005 and 6 for 1985.

Alright I'm out.
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Quoting Levi32:


Oh including non-US landfalls? Nvm then.


yea he meant anywhere
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Most of the trees were stripped and leaning. Caymanians flying over after Ivan didn't even recognize Grand Cayman.


worst case scenario is august relief well..we HAVE to believe that
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Quoting Levi32:


Oh including non-US landfalls? Nvm then.
No, only US landfalls.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting Levi32:


1985 had 6 landfalls 2005 had 5 landfalls.

Later all.


It had 6

So did 2008

Dolly, Gustav, Hanna, Ike, Omar and Paloma
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


you also asked since 1900

and 2005 also had 6 landfalling Hurricanes

Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Beta


Oh including non-US landfalls? Nvm then.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


you also asked since 1900

and 2005 also had 6 landfalling Hurricanes

Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Beta
My bad, I forgot that I put that in the question. But yes, 1985 was the answer.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting largeeyes:


Was on Grand Cayman 4 months later on a cruise. They were reroofing a church I believe in the port at the time. Every tree leaned one way, many seemed stripped. The dive shop said they lost their roof in the storm and it flooded the store. Evidently what I thought was beach had, previous to Ivan, been a back yard.
Most of the trees were stripped and leaning. Caymanians flying over after Ivan didn't even recognize Grand Cayman.
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.