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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Some heavy storms over the North Miami Beach/Hollywood area for those who love watching heavy raining and occasional lightning.
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402. IKE
I just paid my $5.00 membership about 2 weeks ago.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
I'm reading some news stories about the oil gusher not being sealed until maybe as late as December. How credible is that? Hype or real?


well I could see how an active Hurricane season in the GOM (GOO) could delay the sealing of the well, but to December, I hope not!!
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399. IKE
Quoting JamesSA:
Bloomberg news article... Link

BP's Cap Is Recovering Gulf Oil, May Get 90% of Leak (Update3)'

I too hope they are right about that.


That would be great news!
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398. xcool



Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quoting Levi32:


This blog would be dead without humor, so you don't have to apologize for everything. It is mainly #1 politics (honestly isn't there somewhere else on the internet to go for that) and #2 the people obsessed with the trolls. Use your iggy button. I'm talking to everyone here. These things can be controlled. I almost agree with someone's idea yesterday to make the Dr.'s blog only available to post in by paid members of this site.


Not sure if paid membership is going to solve the problem, especially with persistent trolls...
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396. srada
Quoting tornadofan:


As a frequent lurker, I have to agree with Levi.

I think that JFV isn't the problem, it is all the folks obsessed with him.

Back to lurking...


You would think that school is already out by some of the posts on here today...this use to be a weather blog, now its about who can google and post the most ridiculous picture to a dumb joke....
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Quoting Levi32:


This blog would be dead without humor, so you don't have to apologize for everything. It is mainly #1 politics (honestly isn't there somewhere else on the internet to go for that) and #2 the people obsessed with the trolls. Use your iggy button. These things can be controlled. I almost agree with someone's idea yesterday to make the Dr.'s blog only available to post in by paid members of this site.


I agree, it should be for paid members only.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting Levi32:


This blog would be dead without humor, so you don't have to apologize for everything. It is mainly #1 politics (honestly isn't there somewhere else on the internet to go for that) and #2 the people obsessed with the trolls. Use your iggy button. These things can be controlled. I almost agree with someone's idea yesterday to make the Dr.'s blog only available to post in by paid members of this site.


I'm cool with that idea since I'm a "member of the club."

/me enjoys a nice Fresca! :)
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Quoting CycloneOz:


I understand your point, and you have to forgive many of us here.

We do not have the "laser-like" focus you and a few others on here are able to maintain day in and out.

I have a playful nature. I also have a serious side. I have blogged as such.

I really only focus on the weather when there's something to truly focus on.

Still, when you and a few other speak, I take time to listen. I'm sorry I get in the way to any conversation that might come along during those times when you're analyzing trends and conditions.

Sincere apologies.


This blog would be dead without humor, so you don't have to apologize for everything. It is mainly #1 politics (honestly isn't there somewhere else on the internet to go for that) and #2 the people obsessed with the trolls. Use your iggy button. I'm talking to everyone here. These things can be controlled. I almost agree with someone's idea yesterday to make the Dr.'s blog only available to post in by paid members of this site.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
Looking at local reports from yesterday: Many reports from the Kendall and Hialeah of hail, a couple reports of high wind gusts and tree limbs down and one report of fallen power lines. Little more than I usually see.

06/03/2010 0550 PM

Kendall, Miami-Dade County.
Hail e0.50 inch, reported by public.

Public reported Marble size hail on bird Rd and SW 199th
Ave.

06/03/2010 0435 PM

Hialeah, Miami-Dade County.
Hail e1.00 inch, reported by trained spotter.

Spotter reported quarter size hail on the ground near
36th street and 41st Avenue in south Hialeah.

06/03/2010 0417 am
Hialeah, Miami-Dade County.
Hail e0.88 inch, reported by public.
Public reported power lines down and nickel size hail in
Hialeah.

06/03/2010 0410 am

Hialeah, Miami-Dade County.

Hail e0.25 inch, reported by public.

Public reported pea size hail around Hialeah.
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391. xcool
lmao..
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quoting StormW:


I second that!
i third it
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Bloomberg news article... Link

BP's Cap Is Recovering Gulf Oil, May Get 90% of Leak (Update3)'

I too hope they are right about that.
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Not much on the 12z ECMWF but it does show the trend for lowering pressures and heights in the western Caribbean and over central America in 7-10 days. It has a weak low form in the SW Caribbean and track over the Yucatan into the southern Bay of Campeche.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
Quoting Levi32:


This isn't about me having my posts read I don't really care.

It can get bothersome for those of us who are here because it is a weather blogging site, and thus we are here to discuss the weather, not politics, and not JFV. When the majority of the posts are about non-weather topics it gets hard to even have a conversation in here.


I understand your point, and you have to forgive many of us here.

We do not have the "laser-like" focus you and a few others on here are able to maintain day in and out.

I have a playful nature. I also have a serious side. I have blogged as such.

I really only focus on the weather when there's something to truly focus on.

Still, when you and a few other speak, I take time to listen. I'm sorry I get in the way to any conversation that might come along during those times when you're analyzing trends and conditions.

Sincere apologies.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


This isn't about me having my posts read I don't really care.

It can get bothersome for those of us who are here because it is a weather blogging site, and thus we are here to discuss the weather, not politics, and not JFV. When the majority of the posts are about non-weather topics it gets hard to even have a conversation in here.


As a frequent lurker, I have to agree with Levi.

I think that JFV isn't the problem, it is all the folks obsessed with him.

Back to lurking...
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Quoting Floodman:


Actually, B&C are the same thing...

That was my intent. :)
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379. xcool
Drakoen i agree and Levi32:
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quoting DestinJeff:


c'mon Levi .. your input is very valued here, and doesn't get crowded out in anyway by all the stuff on the margins.

don't you see? it is self-inflicted frustration. you are in control of your response to the 75% (your number, not mine). I value your efforts here and have never felt like I couldn't process both the valid input (yours) along with the "garbage".


This isn't about me having my posts read I don't really care.

It can get bothersome for those of us who are here because it is a weather blogging site, and thus we are here to discuss the weather, not politics, and not JFV. When the majority of the posts are about non-weather topics it gets hard to even have a conversation in here.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
Quoting Levi32:


It can. The MJO will be attracted to wherever upward motion is the strongest, and that is where the oceans are warm. The Pacific is cooling, so if you notice it has been largely skipping the Pacific and taking shortcuts to the Atlantic where the water is warmest. This pattern will likely continue all summer with the MJO "cheating" and trying to hang around our area of the world longer than anywhere else.



Rather remindful of some recent years...
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i hope you get a storm the likes never seen before then just maybe you will ask for no more


Only over his house please, my area is apparently close to his.

Anyways rumbles of thunderstorms in the distance. The rainy season certainly on in Florida. The Summer rains do not usually cause too much flooding around here as the rain is mostly seabrease oriented and short in duration. During the Fall is when that happens, when central and southern Florida receive tropical disturbances that sometimes park right over the state meander one way or another or in some cases every which way.
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Quoting Levi32:


I think the point is the rest of us who are not amused very much resent the 75% of blog posts in here that are related to such garbage that wastes blog space.


I agree completely. Everyday it's the same thing.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:
I don't see any development from the 12Z ECMWF


It's out to day 7 and days 5-7 show a significant lowering of pressures and 500mb heights in the western Caribbean.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
I don't see any development from the 12Z ECMWF
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7359
Quoting DestinJeff:


it is all about frustration vs. contentment ... attempting to ignore only leads to frustration. but embracing every aspect of every blogger leads to contentment.

think of it more like the Jerry / Newman relationship on Seinfeld.


I think the point is the rest of us who are not amused very much resent the 75% of blog posts in here that are related to such garbage that wastes blog space.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
Quoting 850Realtor:


Think Pensacola might change names also and go with something catchy like Toxicola.


I'm thinking Clearwater Beach may become Crudewater Beach possibly if it sees any oil.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting TropicalWave:
your getting me excited here x, its showing storm formation, isn't it?
i hope you get a storm the likes never seen before then just maybe you will ask for no more
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
364. xcool
TropicalWave .do you clicking on link?
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quoting CaneWarning:
I'm headed to Clearwater Beach this weekend. It's sad to think I may not be able to do that in the future. I wonder if they'll rename it after the oil ruins it?


Think Pensacola might change names also and go with something catchy like Toxicola.
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Quoting jeffs713:

Your company has spilled millions of gallons of oil into an ocean. Do you:
A. Do the right thing, admit you messed up, and fix it.
B. Close your eyes for 3 days and hope it goes away, then when it doesn't, be incredibly vague as to how bad it is.
C. Act like BP.
D. B & C


E. Order emergency response to accomplish the following:

a) Deploy ROVs to assess condition of Gulf floor (48 hours completion) and start process to protect Louisiana wetland coast (including building berms.)
b) *Discovery of Leaking Pipes* (24 hours to develop strategy.)
c) Cut or blow off bolts from the riser flange to the pipe flange (48 hours)
d) During cutting process, stage new shut-off BOP. (48 hours)
e) Once bolts are off and the pipe is off, clean up area around riser (12 hours)
f) Install and engage new BOP (48 hours)

10 days - problem solved.
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SpaceX video very cool - successful so far...
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Quoting Floodman:


That is wholly dependent on conditions...I believe the MJO can actually back up if conditions are right


It can. The MJO will be attracted to wherever upward motion is the strongest, and that is where the oceans are warm. The Pacific is cooling, so if you notice it has been largely skipping the Pacific and taking shortcuts to the Atlantic where the water is warmest. This pattern will likely continue all summer with the MJO "cheating" and trying to hang around our area of the world longer than anywhere else.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
Quoting jeffs713:

Your company has spilled millions of gallons of oil into an ocean. Do you:
A. Do the right thing, admit you messed up, and fix it.
B. Close your eyes for 3 days and hope it goes away, then when it doesn't, be incredibly vague as to how bad it is.
C. Act like BP.
D. B & C


Actually, B&C are the same thing...
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356. xcool
TropicalWave ,i'm buzzzz lol
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620

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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.