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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5206. winter123
4:47 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting TampaSpin:



Dont forget Laurel and Hardy.......those 2 cracked me up bad!

Yay someone that's heard of them! One summer I was at the beach and got bad sunburn so was sitting in a cold dark room and channel flipping, that's how I found them!
Member Since: July 29, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 1797
5204. Drakoen
2:01 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting StormW:
Not too sure right now about development in the Caribbean from the wave near 37W next week. Based on it's current speed, it's gonna take about 84-96 hours to reach 60W, right at the Islands. Current wind shear forecast map shows shear in the Caribbean by the time it would enter.



It will not be from the wave in the central Atlantic. This appears to be associated with on e of the low-latitudes that advect over South America with he poleward portion of the wave axis extending into the Caribbean.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30562
5202. atmoaggie
2:00 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
new blog
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
5200. Jedkins01
1:59 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting breald:


So, the Bermuda high will block storms from going out to sea or moving up the east coast? Florida got walloped in 2004 and we all know what happened in 2005. Does the Bermuda high maintain its strength/position the entire season or does it change?

Thanks
Quoting stillwaiting:
strong storms expected for the Fl peninsula this afternoon and evening..as a deteroirating cold front saggs into north FL it w/be a destablizing mechinism and will cause strong and possibly isloated severe wx starting early afternoon along from I-4 North and I-75 east and then sagging south and east with a convective t-storm complex forming along FLs central east coast and then moving offshore a bit after sun down,IMO....gonna get wet today!!!




yeah, the PW at tampa is at 2.37 right now! With an LI of -8!


Man I can't wait till we get back to a southeast flow though, we haven't more then a little brief downpour the past 10 days accept for thurs night when we had a 5 inch in one hour slammer.

This westerly flow pattern usually has more rain coming off the water than this, I'm really surprised how dry its its been on the west coast of Florida lately considering the deep tropical air mass, we usually get numerous trains of thunderstorms off the gulf in this pattern. Its been nothing but east coast favoring last week or so.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7576
5198. leo305
1:58 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting breald:


So, the Bermuda high will block storms from going out to sea or moving up the east coast? Florida got walloped in 2004 and we all know what happened in 2005. Does the Bermuda high maintain its strength/position the entire season or does it change?

Thanks


it changes, but a stronger high means the storm moves further west..
Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753
5197. CyclonicVoyage
1:54 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting stillwaiting:
strong storms expected for the Fl peninsula this afternoon and evening..as a deteroirating cold front saggs into north FL it w/be a destablizing mechinism and will cause strong and possibly isloated severe wx starting early afternoon along from I-4 North and I-75 east and then sagging south and east with a convective t-storm complex forming along FLs central east coast and then moving offshore a bit after sun down,IMO....gonna get wet today!!!


It's going to be nasty this afternoon / evening. Stronger than yesterday if you can believe that. My area, Jupiter, had nasty storms up till 10pm yesterday. Thunder was the deep billowing kind that shook a picture off the wall. Shotty installation, Maybe, lol.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
5196. CycloneOz
1:50 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:


Nothing coming to FL as a dominate high will protect FL but the Caribbean to TX storm is becoming a possibility next week.


Texas is easy for me.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 3753
5194. CycloneOz
1:46 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting hurricanejunky:


what happened to the generator powered lighting you had priced? The flares seem to work even if it were only a temporary solution.


The flares will be additional to the generator lighting. We may have to go to places in the eye-wall without the generator.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 3753
5192. MahFL
1:44 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Jeff9641...
Another storm ? We have not had one yet in the Atlantic basin.
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3547
5191. breald
1:41 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:
The pattern that is shaping up across the Tropics and the US does not look good right now. With a strong Bermuda high setting up next week this could mean TS/Hurricanes hitting the SE US and TX in the near future. This looks like a 2004/2005 year all over again where just about every storm that forms hits the US.


So, the Bermuda high will block storms from going out to sea or moving up the east coast? Florida got walloped in 2004 and we all know what happened in 2005. Does the Bermuda high maintain its strength/position the entire season or does it change?

Thanks
Member Since: May 28, 2008 Posts: 38 Comments: 5303
5190. srada
1:39 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Good Morning Everyone

Our Meteorologist in Wilmington said we needed to watch the disturbance in the Leeward Islands..sounds like the hurricane season is getting active..
Member Since: August 17, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 774
5189. stillwaiting
1:35 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
when the ITCZ pushes further north in a month its going to get real busy,real fast.....as the SST's in the MDR combined w/lower sheer values than normal w/create a production line of strong/healthy waves propagating to the west towards a ripening carribean!!!......for the next 2 or 3 weeks the STS should keep the carib basin closed!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
5187. Drakoen
1:32 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
I see the GFS continues to forecast for development later this week in the Western Caribbean and the system could potentially get into the GOM. If the GFS continues to be consistent then you know we have something to watch.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30562
5186. rmbjoe1954
1:30 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting StormW:


Hi Storm- Now that doesn't look good for this time of year. All that juice about to traverse into the EATL.
Member Since: June 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1365
5184. mfaria101
1:23 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
where is everybody?
Member Since: May 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 30
5183. stillwaiting
1:22 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
strong storms expected for the Fl peninsula this afternoon and evening..as a deteroirating cold front saggs into north FL it w/be a destablizing mechinism and will cause strong and possibly isloated severe wx starting early afternoon along from I-4 North and I-75 east and then sagging south and east with a convective t-storm complex forming along FLs central east coast and then moving offshore a bit after sun down,IMO....gonna get wet today!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
5181. Orcasystems
1:07 PM GMT on June 07, 2010


AOI

AOI

AOI
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
5180. hurricanejunky
1:02 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting CycloneOz:


what happened to the generator powered lighting you had priced? The flares seem to work even if it were only a temporary solution.
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
5176. wunderkidcayman
12:55 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Hey guys did I miss something what system Caribbean GOM MDR N of Bahamas what where how help me out guys
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12151
5173. hurricanejunky
12:50 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
In my opinion...Levi should be a featured blogger.


I'll 2nd that...
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
5169. nrtiwlnvragn
12:45 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


They went down to average or still are above the average?


They are still above climatology, but not as much as they were previously.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11215
5167. Tazmanian
12:41 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting CaneWarning:
Don't look now, but some of the models show something going into the Gulf.



nic
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
5165. CaneWarning
12:38 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Don't look now, but some of the models show something going into the Gulf.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
5164. IKE
12:37 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
SYNOPSIS FOR THE SW N ATLC INCLUDING THE BAHAMAS
530 AM EDT MON JUN 07 2010

.SYNOPSIS...WEAK HIGH PRES OFF THE SW COAST OF FLORIDA EXTENDS E
TO THE NW BAHAMAS...WHILE A WEAK TROUGH PERSISTED FROM THE SE
BAHAMAS N-NE TO NEAR 28N72W. A COLD FRONT WILL MOVE OFF THE SE
UNITED STATES COAST THIS MORNING AND CONTINUE SE...REACHING FROM
NEAR BERMUDA TO CENTRAL FLORIDA BY TUE AFTERNOON...THEN STALL
TUE NIGHT FROM 30N65W TO CENTRAL FLORIDA...THEN LIFT N AND
DISSIPATING BY THU. A WEAK RIDGE WILL BUILD W ALONG 27N INTO THE
BAHAMAS THU NIGHT AND FRI. ANOTHER COLD FRONT WILL SINK S INTO
THE NE WATERS LATE FRI.

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
5162. stillwaiting
12:35 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
P451:if that scenerio happens,it would be a good example of a TUTT low transitioning to a warm core surface reflection....I doubt it'll happen though...
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
5161. beell
12:33 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting P451:
72 Hour Forecast per WeatherStreet

Note the system that forms north of Haiti and moves NW towards the SE US Coast.



A quick post from Friday:

And for a conditional event, a nice east coast trough split at 700mb along 20N 70W for the first of next week. Broad cyclonic flow over the central Caribbean that may/may not coincide with the passage of tropical wave.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 143 Comments: 16729
5159. Tropicsweatherpr
12:25 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Atlantic SST anomalies in the MDR continues to decrease:





Could the CFS SST anomalies forecast get lucky and be right for once?




They went down to average or still are above the average?
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14321
5158. MahFL
12:16 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Though looking at a different SST map most of the MDR is at 27 or 28, so it's anyones guess what the temps are.....
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3547
5157. nrtiwlnvragn
12:14 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Atlantic SST anomalies in the MDR continues to decrease:





Could the CFS SST anomalies forecast get lucky and be right for once?


Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11215
5156. MahFL
12:13 PM GMT on June 07, 2010
Most of the MDR seems to be at 25 C or so. Is it 26 or 28 you normally need for developmeant ?
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3547

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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.