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 alexhurricane1991:
Well i live north of tampa in pasco county odessa to be exact and we got it pretty good last night.

Last Hurricane that hit Tampa head on was in 1921. I know you have been very fortunate so far, I hope this will continue, but you all are way overdue for a landfalling hurricane.
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603. xcool
HurricaneSwirl lmao lmao
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Bite your tongue! The last time you had the Tampa shields up we got Charley! LOL!
Oh it was the shield! Always wondered why we got Charlie LOL
Member Since: February 14, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 664
601. xcool
i hear Tampa sp ban ????
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Hurricane Donna is another example of only 1 storm being enough. Donna put more mileage of USA coastline under hurricane warnings than any other hurricane. Ever.



Grew up with story after story about Donna. My folks grew up in Ft. Myers and went thru it. REALLY severe hurricane...go to the Sun Sentinel site and see if they still have the old archive film footage from Donna. It showed alot of Keys footage. I believe Marathon recorded 180mph+ gusts from Donna...
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Bite your tongue! The last time you had the Tampa shields up we got Charley! LOL!
Well let me rephrase that then lets hope the west coast of florida has a shield up this year! LOL!
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting xcool:
very busy season.and bad cv storm's ... with many long track storms


Lol can you imagine the blog 2-3 months from now. That should be good
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597. xcool
lmao
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Quoting CaneWarning:
Did Tampa really get it bad last night? I slept through it if we did. I noticed rain and lightning, but I don't think we got too much wind. I didn't notice much tree debris this morning.
Well i live north of tampa in pasco county odessa to be exact and we got it pretty good last night.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Hopefully our tampa shields are primed and ready for this season!


Bite your tongue! The last time you had the Tampa shields up we got Charley! LOL!
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594. xcool
very busy season.and bad cv storm's ... with many long track storms
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Quoting hurricanejunky:
Maryland, Delaware and Indiana under the gun for severe weather today...


Eastern Ohio is getting blasted too, seen a few tornado warnings over there. They say my part of the state's supposed to get hit hard later too...
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Hurricane Donna is another example of only 1 storm being enough. Donna put more mileage of USA coastline under hurricane warnings than any other hurricane. Ever.



Not to mention the mileage of North Caribbean and Bahama coastline that also must have been put under hurricane warnings as well.
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Maryland, Delaware and Indiana under the gun for severe weather today...
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Did Tampa really get it bad last night? I slept through it if we did. I noticed rain and lightning, but I don't think we got too much wind. I didn't notice much tree debris this morning.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Hurricane Donna is another example of only 1 storm being enough. Donna put more mileage of USA coastline under hurricane warnings than any other hurricane. Ever.



Wow I can imagine..
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Hurricane Donna is another example of only 1 storm being enough. Donna put more mileage of USA coastline under hurricane warnings than any other hurricane. Ever.



I've heard stories about Donna, my mom was growing up in New Jersey when it scraped there.
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Quoting Drakoen:


Classic Cape Verde type system too... What we will be looking for this season
I hope we dont get another donna this year but its looking like long track cape verde storms are going to be a very likiely probability.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting ElConando:
Some heavy storms over the North Miami Beach/Hollywood area for those who love watching heavy raining and occasional lightning.


Any more hail?? Yesterday was a fun drive...
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10815
584. BtnTx
I don't even have an ignore list. I am just tough enough to ignore what ever I want whenever I want. I have more important things to do than manage an ignore list.

On a side note to Cyclone Oz, how is the book coming along that I have been waiting for?
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Hurricane Donna is another example of only 1 storm being enough. Donna put more mileage of USA coastline under hurricane warnings than any other hurricane. Ever.



Classic Cape Verde type system too... What we will be looking for this season
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581. xcool
alex yeah ...for now
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Quoting xcool:
hey alex
Ah dont you love the peace and quiet in the tropics for now.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
579. xcool
good i think...
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578. xcool
hey alex
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Quoting Makoto1:


I'm pretty sure you can ignore more bloggers than that... Well if my ignore list mostly of 2008 trolls counts for anything at least.



You sure can. Mine was up to 63 over the course of five years. I wiped it out about 2 weeks ago and its already back up to 15.

I would strongly support a 30-day delay in posting privileges for new members. It has just become too bad over time not to institute something like this. Paying $10/year for posting privileges would also be a step n the right direction. Instituting both would pretty much eliminate the troll problem.
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Quoting xcool:
TropicalWave :)
Scott!!!!!!
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
573. xcool
TropicalWave :)
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Now this is some CAPE, seesh. 70% chance of storms today for Palm Beach County, not as much as a blip on the radar.


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Quoting 900MB:

You are probably right. But a good blob keeps us looking at maps, models, and animation rather that talking about trolls, etc..
Well we are the ones to blame for talking about the trolls i do it and most people on here do it theres more to weather than just tropics theres weather in the states theres international weather theres weather history so we can talk about many things other than trolls thats just my opinion.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting hurricanejunky:


That was an interesting graphic...from impactweather if I recall correctly. Looks like an Accuweather hype map...
Hopefully our tampa shields are primed and ready for this season!
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
568. 900MB
Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Nope i actually like this peace and quiet nothing to worry about yet.

You are probably right. But a good blob keeps us looking at maps, models, and animation rather that talking about trolls, etc..
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I'm out........Have as best of a weekend as Yall can considering the unfolding issues in the Gulf (on vaction in South Florida next week and will see everyone around June 14).......WW
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aspectre just blows me away with the statistics sometimes...

I wonder what he or she looks like anyway?

Heat index 101 at 420pm in cape coral fl
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Quoting kuppenskup:
An active season doesnt necessarily mean landfalls. Look at Andrew in 1992, That was the only storm of any mention what so ever that yr but it was one of the worst Hurricanes in history. So sometimes all it takes is one major landfall to make a season of memories.
Yes that is true as well great post there.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting CycloneOz:


Perhaps more than once, too.

There was a graphic posted earlier today that showed the entire state as "extreme risk."

I can't remember any year where that was the case before this one.


That was an interesting graphic...from impactweather if I recall correctly. Looks like an Accuweather hype map...
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An active season doesnt necessarily mean landfalls. Look at Andrew in 1992, That was the only storm of any mention what so ever that yr but it was one of the worst Hurricanes in history. So sometimes all it takes is one major landfall to make a season of memories. Then there were other seasons when we had a lot of Activity but no or very weak Landfalls.
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Quoting ncstorm:


Why isnt this directed at them..they have been doing it ALL day?? I mean ALL day, go back and read the blog. I thought it was cruel what they did to Patrap so they are only getting back what they do to other people!
Just drop it this is a weather site talk weather or leave!!!
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
ncstorm your about to be replaced with empty space just like whats in your head
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Quoting 900MB:
BLOB WITHDRAWAL!
I am suffering, anyone else?
Nope i actually like this peace and quiet nothing to worry about yet.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572

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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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