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 900MB:
BLOB WITHDRAWAL!
I am suffering, anyone else?
Nope i actually like this peace and quiet nothing to worry about yet.
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Quoting Jeff9641:
Hey OZ, we may cross paths this year in Florida.


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.
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that squall line in the Gulf really broke up...was hoping for the rain...oh well...go seabreeze, go!
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Hurricane Cindy 2005

A Sneaker that fooled a lotta folks..and ripped the roof off the Atlanta Motor Speedway as well.

Went to bed seeing a Strong Small TC,,woke up Monday to 350,,000 without power and a lot of tree and roof damage



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
552. 900MB
BLOB WITHDRAWAL!
I am suffering, anyone else?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Hurricanes101:
Um biggest example that you left out Levi

1968 holds the record with 3 storms in June; it ended with only 8 storms


Oh yeah, forgot about that one. I was mostly pointing out even hyperactive seasons don't do much in June.
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Quoting hydrus:
Hey Flood, be with you shortly.


Cool...
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sorry i forgot the rest of the text. oil has hit gulf shores big time today at lunch

Link
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548. xcool


Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15626
Um biggest example that you left out Levi

1968 holds the record with 3 storms in June; it ended with only 8 storms
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7397
Quoting Jeff9641:


Hey Alex, Good Afternoon! Did you get that thunderstorm last night? I'm getting it again right now in Longwood for the second time today.
Oh did i ever huge deluge of rain and constant cloud to ground lightning it was awesome!
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Quoting ncstorm:


Awww..the best friend prick is sticking up for the other prick..its not so fun when you are getting harrass is it??

In prick words..HAHAHAHALOL!!!


You're a big tough guy behind that keyboard, aren't you? Hasn't Mommy called you for PB&J's yet?
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It's like every season really at this point. Just time to wait it out until things end up heating up.

Also interesting thought: What if there was internet and this blog was up in 1984? I think they had 4 storms that year... I can't imagine the insanity that would ensue with a season that lasted basically for a month.
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Quoting CycloneOz:


I agree about that, too. But the serious stuff won't come until later.


never know...remember Dennis? That was late June/early July....nasty sucker...
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Quoting WPBHurricane05:
2004 didn't get its first named storm (Alex...) until the last day of July. That turned out to be a pretty crappy season.
Very crappy, Charlie year
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Quoting CycloneOz:


I agree about that, too. But the serious stuff won't come until later.
I agree i see you will have a busy year this year Oz.
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it is getting bad now!!

Link
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Regarding the western Gulf of Mexico situation, a problem here for our little Pacific disturbance is that the upper trough over Mexico is pulling in tons of dry air from the west, and this may already be having an effect on the system as convection is waning. This may be why the models forecast this to be a very weak feature when it crosses over into the Bay of Campeche. Dry air can sometimes be a big caveat associated with upper troughs, which are usually mischief-makers when they get stuck in the tropics.

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532. IKE

No Development Expected Over the Next Several Days
Jun 4, 2010 11:51 AM

Tropical waves are located along 25 west, along 40 west, along 55 west and near 72 west. These tropical waves are moving westward at an average speed of 4-5 degrees longitude per day. Most of the waves remain south of 12 north. The only tropical wave of interest is the one along 25 west. This tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa late Tuesday and was exhibiting clouds and a few thunderstorms. Upper-level wind flow over this system appears to be favorable for further thunderstorm development. We see no organized lower-level feature at this point. Long-range computer forecasts show little support for development. However, we will still keep a close eye on the system. Otherwise, we see no signs of tropical development through at least Saturday.

By AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologists Bob Smerbeck and Brian Wimer
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2008 didn't see a June storm either, Arthur formed in May. 2006 saw Alberto. 2004 didn't have a named storm until Late July.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Besides, its still June 4th. The MJO forecast could change even.. you could tell this season wanted to get going when 90L and 91L formed so close to each other in time for May. If you can determine we won't have a June storm in the first week of June I want your autograph. Its a wait and see game.
Thats also true we really dont know whats going to happen these are just predictions.
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Quoting ElConando:
It only takes one, anywhere...


The Katrina Theorem...
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It only takes one, anywhere...
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
after the 15th of june it begins


I agree about that, too. But the serious stuff won't come until later.
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Quoting jeffs713:

Mostly the lack of a piece of energy in the right place to get things started.


Agree.......Not sure when we will get Alex but the average start date for the season is around mid-July. But, with all of the energy and precipitation out there, and we have seen this year after year, once it starts, it's like a switch is thrown (jet stream gets out of the way in the Gulf and "trio" of the subtropical ridge/TUTT/sub-equatorial ridge where all the action is rises in place). Once the first one forms, then is will probably be a pretty endless stream with "clusters" of storms in groups through the season based upon favorable MJO factors and the like........August through October, when heating in the tropics is at it's maximum every year, will see the bulk of the storms with a few stragglers, perhaps, in June/July and October/Nomvember depending on overall conditions.
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Regardless of the exact number of storms that form this year, I think most agree it's going to be an active year. Between July and Oct, we'll likely have at least one storm every week or two assuming a low estimate of 15 storms forming.
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Quoting IKE:



2005 had 2 in June.

I've seen comparison after comparison on here comparing 2010 to 2005. In 2005 the first storm was June 8th. Ain't happening that soon this year.

Does it mean anything? No. But it's a fact.


Sure, but I'm not forecasting 28 like 2005. The point is June is not a good indicator of the rest of the season. What does matter though is how the precipitation and MSLP anomalies start shaping up this month. If the Sahel gets wet (already is) and the Caribbean gets wet with low pressures in the SW Atlantic, then it's a sure sign of things to come in the following months.
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Your right but i dont see 20 or more storms this year.
after the 15th of june it begins
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.
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Besides, its still June 4th. The MJO forecast could change even.. you could tell this season wanted to get going when 90L and 91L formed so close to each other in time for May. If you can determine we won't have a June storm in the first week of June I want your autograph. Its a wait and see game.
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Quoting CaribBoy:


That's still pretty high
Yes it is high because im taking into account for the favorable factors that we have low shear la nina forming etc. so yes its high
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I'd respond to the last remark with a quote, but I have a feeling that Wunderground's "ignore" feature is being heavily used right now.
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Quoting ncstorm:


but you see, that's what fat bullys do. They bring others down to feel good about themselves and you have been doing that all day.


It's bullies, not bullys! Get it right!
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517. IKE
Quoting alexhurricane1991:
I agree that we wont see that many storms but im going with 17,8,4 for the year.


You're probably close.

I don't think we'll see 20 or more either.
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2004 didn't get its first named storm (Alex...) until the last day of July. That turned out to be a pretty crappy season.
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
I agree that we wont see that many storms but im going with 17,8,4 for the year.


That's still pretty high
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Quoting ncstorm:


you spelled it wrong Mr. Prick but Im not surprised..and you have the nerve to pick on StIsland avatar pic and I just peeked at your page and you need to cover up that fat gut. You wish you were in Playgirl!!
...make that 15
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Likely to end up with 18-19, 23-27 is way to extreme.
Yep
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Quoting JamesSA:

Isn't there an admin policy about banning those who quote posts that violate policy?

Hopefully enforcement cleans the blog up when things get busy.


Enforcement only really happens when the infraction is brought to the attention of the admins...
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510. IKE
Quoting Levi32:


And June is supposed to contribute how many? Most very active seasons contribute one storm in June at most. The average is 0.3 storms per year in June. 1995 contributed one. 1969 contributed zero and didn't start until July 25th. June contributes very little to the overall number. It means very little if we have to wait for July.



2005 had 2 in June.

I've seen comparison after comparison on here comparing 2010 to 2005. In 2005 the first storm was June 8th. Ain't happening that soon this year.

Does it mean anything? No. But it's a fact.
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Your right but i dont see 20 or more storms this year.


Likely to end up with 18-19, 23-27 is way to extreme.
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Quoting SpicyAngel1072:
what about IP addresses? Someone was stating the other day that the one troll wont be back on because they have blocked the IP....

Two words: proxy server.
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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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