Heaviest 1-day rain in Oklahoma City history; 92L fizzles

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:45 PM GMT on June 15, 2010

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Oklahoma City's rainiest day in history brought rampaging floods to the city and surrounding areas yesterday, as widespread rain amounts of 8 - 11 inches deluged the city. Fortunately, no confirmed deaths or injuries have been blamed on the mayhem, though damage is extensive. Oklahoma City's Will Rogers Airport received 7.62" of rain yesterday, smashing the record for the rainiest day in city history. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the city's previous rainiest day occurred September 22, 1970, when 7.53 inches fell. Some rivers continue to rise due to all the rain, and the Canadian River east of downtown Oklahoma City is four feet over flood stage, with major flooding expected today. You can track the flooding using our wundermap with the USGS Flood layer turned on.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated precipitation for the period June 14 - 15, 2010, during the Oklahoma City floods. A large swath of 8 - 10 inches of rain (dark red colors) was indicated, from Oklahoma City northeastwards.

An inordinate number of major U.S. floods this year
We've had an inordinate number of severe floods in the U.S. so far this year. The worst was the May Tennessee flood, which killed 31 people--the highest death toll from a non-tropical cyclone flooding event in the U.S. since 1994, and the most devastating disaster in Tennessee since the Civil War. The Tennessee floods were rated as a 1000-year flood for Middle Tennessee, West Tennessee, South Central and Western Kentucky and northern Mississippi. Two-day rain totals in some areas were greater than 19 inches.Last Friday's disastrous flash flood in Albert Pike Recreation Area, Arkansas, killed twenty people. That flood was triggered by 8+ inches of rain that fell in just a few hours over the rugged mountains west of Hot Springs. And in March, record rains from a slow-moving and extremely wet Nor'easter triggered historic flooding in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, with several rivers exceeding their 100-year flood levels. The 16.32" of rain that fell on Providence, Rhode Island, made March that city's wettest month in recorded history.

All of these flooding events were associated with airmasses though brought record-breaking warm temperatures to surrounding regions of the country. For example, during the overnight hours when the June 11 flood in Arkansas occurred, fifty airports in the Southern and Midwestern U.S. had their highest minimum temperatures on record. During the 1000-year flood in Tennessee, 51 warm minimum temperatures records were set in the eastern half of the U.S. on May 1, and 97 records on May 2. Rhode Island's record wettest March also happened to be its record warmest March. And the air mass that spawned yesterday's Oklahoma City floods set record warm minimum temperatures at 22 airports across the central and Eastern portions of the U.S. on Monday. All this is not surprising, since more moisture can evaporate into warmer air, making record-setting rainfall events more likely when record warm temperatures are present. The total number of airports in the U.S. considered for these comparisons is around 500, so we're talking about significant portions of the U.S. being exposed to these record-breaking warm airmasses this year. For the spring months of March - May, it was the 21st warmest such period in the 116-year record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. At the 500 or so largest airports in the U.S., daily high temperature records outnumbered low temperature records by about a factor 2.5, 1200 to 508. Record high minimums this spring outnumbered record low maximums by 1163 to 568. So far in June, record daily highs have outpaced record lows by 176 to 13, and record high minimums have outpaced record low maximums, 419 to 62.

Flooding and global warming
Groisman et al. (2004) found that in the U.S. during the 20th century, there was a 16% increase in cold season (October - April) "heavy" precipitation events (greater than 2 inches in one day), a 25% increase in "very heavy" precipitation events (greater than 4 inches in one day), and a 36% rise in "extreme" precipitation events (those in the 99.9% percentile--1 in 1000 events.) A sharp rise in extreme precipitation is what is predicted by global warming models in the scientific literature Hegerl et al. (2004). According the landmark 2009 U.S. Climate Impact Report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, "the amount of rain falling in the heaviest downpours has increased approximately 20 percent on average in the past century, and this trend is very likely to continue, with the largest increases in the wettest places." Most of this increase came since 1970, due to the approximate 1°F increase in U.S. average temperature since 1970. That 1°F increase in temperature means that there is 4% more moisture in the atmosphere, on average. According to the 2007 IPCC report, water vapor in the global atmosphere has increased by about 5% over the 20th century, and 4% since 1970. Satellite measurements (Trenberth et al., 2005) have shown a 1.3% per decade increase in water vapor over the global oceans since 1988. Santer et al. (2007) used a climate model to study the relative contribution of natural and human-caused effects on increasing water vapor, and concluded that this increase was "primarily due to human-caused increases in greenhouse gases". This was also the conclusion of Willet et al. (2007).

Dr. Joe Romm over at climateprogress.org has an excellent interview with Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center of Atmospheric Research on the subject of heavy precipitation events and global warming. Dr. Trenberth is the world's leading expert on water vapor in the atmosphere, and he comments that "since the 1970s, on average, there's about a 4% increase in water vapor over the Atlantic Ocean, and when that gets caught into a storm, it invigorates the storm so the storm itself changes, and that can easily double the influence of that water vapor and so you can get up to an 8% increase, straight from the amount of water vapor that's sort of hanging around in the atmosphere. This is reasonably well established." Dr. Trenberth further comments, "Now the physical cause for this is very much related to the water vapor that flows into these storms. And these kinds of storms, well all storms for that matter, reach out on average--this is very much a gross average--about 4 times the radius or 16 times the area of the region that's precipitating, the rain. And for these kinds of storms a lot of the moisture is coming out of the sub-tropical Atlantic and even the tropical Atlantic; some of it comes out of the Gulf of Mexico. And so the moisture actually travels about 2000 miles where it gets caught up in these storms and then it rains down. And the key thing is, that in the tropical and sub-tropical Atlantic the sea temperatures are at very high levels and in fact they're the highest on record at the moment right in the eastern tropical Atlantic. It's going to be interesting to see what that does for this hurricane season coming up."

We cannot say that any of this year's flooding disasters were definitely due to global warming, and part of the reason for this year's numerous U.S. flooding disasters is simply bad luck. However, higher temperatures do cause an increased chance of heavy precipitation events, and it is likely that the flooding in some of this year's U.S. flooding disasters were significantly enhanced by the presence of more water vapor in the air due to global warming. We can expect a large increase in flooding disasters in the U.S. and worldwide if the climate continues to warm as expected.


Figure 2. A portable classroom building from a nearby high school floats past submerged cars on I-24 near Nashville, TN on May 1, 2010. One person died in the flooding in this region of I-24. Roughly 200 - 250 vehicles got submerged on this section of I-24, according to wunderphotographer laughingjester, who was a tow truck operator called in to clear out the stranded vehicles.

Funding issues threaten hundreds of streamgages
According to the USGS web site, river stage data from 292 streamgages has been discontinued recently, or is scheduled for elimination in the near future due to budget cuts. In Tennessee, 16 streamflow gages with records going back up to 85 years will stop collecting data on July 1 because of budget cuts. Five gages in Arkansas are slated for elimination this year. Hardest hit will be Pennsylvania, which will lose 30 of its 258 streamgages. With over 50 people dead from two flooding disasters already this year, now hardly seems to be the time to be skimping on monitoring river flow levels by cutting funding for hundreds of streamgages. These gages are critical for proper issuance of flood warnings to people in harm's way. Furthermore, most of the northern 2/3 of the U.S. can expect a much higher incidence of record flooding in coming decades. This will be driven by two factors: increased urban development causing faster run-off, and an increase in very heavy precipitation events due to global warming.


Figure 3. Streamgages that have been discontinued or are being considered for discontinuation or for conversion from continuous record discharge to stage-only stations. Funds for these 292 threatened streamgages are from the U.S. Geological Survey and other Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies. For those streamgages that have already been discontinued, extensive efforts were made to find another funding source; however, when no funding was made available the streamgages had to be discontinued. If you have questions about specific streamgages, click on the state of concern on the USGS web page of threatened stream gages.

Dry air disrupting 92L
Invest 92L, which yesterday was a remarkably well-developed African tropical wave for so early in the season, has fizzled, due to dry air. Infrared satellite loops show the disturbance has lost nearly all of its heavy thunderstorms, and water vapor satellite loops show that the storm has wrapped a large amount of dry air to the west into the storm's center of circulation. With the storm continuing to track west-northwest to northwest into dryer air, the prospects for 92L developing into a tropical depression appear dim. With wind shear expected to rise from its current levels of 10 - 15 knots to 20 - 25 knots on Wednesday, the combination of shear and dry air should be able to pretty much destroy 92L on Wednesday. Shear values will likely increase to 30 - 40 knots by Friday, when 92L will move into the northern Lesser Antilles Islands. There is a window of opportunity this afternoon for 92L to fend off the dry air and organize into a tropical depression. One advantage the storm has it that it has developed a well-formed surface circulation. The low-level center of circulation is easy to spot on satellite imagery, since wind shear due to strong upper-level winds from the west have exposed the center to view. The National Hurricane Center is giving 92L a moderate (30% chance) of developing into a tropical depression by Thursday morning. I would put the chances a bit lower, at 20%. Even if 92L does develop into a tropical depression, it is highly unlikely to cause any trouble for the Lesser Antilles Islands, since wind shear and dry air will probably destroy the system before it can reach the islands.


Figure 4. Morning satellite image of Invest 92L. The low-level circulation is easy to spot on satellite imagery, since wind shear due to strong upper-level winds from the west have exposed the center to view. A small clump of heavy thunderstorms is located just east of the exposed center of circulation.

Elsewhere in the tropics
None of the reliable computer models is calling for tropical cyclone development in the Atlantic over the next seven days. There is a small swirl of low clouds visible in satellite imagery at 8N, 22W, just off the coast of Africa, associated with a tropical wave. This circulation is under wind shear of about 20 knots, which is probably too high for such a small circulation to survive in.

Oil spill wind and ocean current forecast
Light, predominantly southwesterly to westerly winds of 5 - 10 knots will blow in the northern Gulf of Mexico most of this week, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. The more westerly wind direction is expected to maintain a slow (1/2 mph) eastward-moving surface ocean current that will transport oil eastwards along the Florida Panhandle coast, according to the latest ocean current forecast from NOAA's HYCOM model. These winds and currents may be capable of transporting oil as far east as Panama City, Florida, by the end of the week. Oil will continue to threaten the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi for the remainder of the week as well, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana. The long range 8 - 16 day forecast from the GFS model indicates a typical summertime light wind regime, with winds mostly blowing out of the south or southeast. This wind regime will likely keep oil close to the coastal areas that have already seen oil impacts over the past two weeks.

NOAA has lauched a great new interactive mapping tool that allows one to overlay wind forecasts, ocean current forecasts, oil location, etc.

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
NOAA has lauched a great new interactive mapping tool that allows one to overlay wi
nd forecasts, ocean current forecasts, oil location, etc.
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

"Hurricane Haven" airing again this afternoon
Tune into another airing of my live Internet radio show, "Hurricane Haven", at 4pm EDT today. Listeners will be able to call in and ask questions. The call in number is 415-983-2634, or you can post a question in the comments area on my blog. You can also email the questions to me today before the show: jmasters@wunderground.com. Be sure to include "Hurricane Haven question" in the subject line. Some topics I'll cover today on the show:

1) Why did 92L die so quickly?
2) Is the formation of 92L a harbinger of an active hurricane season?
3) What damage could a hurricane do to oil drilling platforms and underwater pipes at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico?

Today's show, will be 1/2 hour, and you can tune in at http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.h tml. The show will be recorded and stored as a podcast.

Jeff Masters

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Who killed the shear over 92L its between 5 and 10knots
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680. DDR
Thanks for explaining Levi
It has been there for many runs now,wet weekend ahead...
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Quoting Levi32:
Now, see what warmer SSTs can do? Had a feeling she might try to pull this off today.



If it comes back, can I retract my RIP? LOL
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
20 bucks that 92L makes it to depression01L before shear rips it apart.
Really?
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Quoting Patrap:


yo...

Evening neighbor.

Any Huey P. trips upcoming?
Nope, we are done for now. The LA State Police are taking the big ones from the line to the H.P. Bridge. They are 130' long not counting truck and trailer.
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676. xcool
92L WOWWW
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15705
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
20 bucks that 92L makes it to depression01L before shear rips it apart.


It's already hitting shear.
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Now, see what warmer SSTs can do? Had a feeling she might try to pull this on us today.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26754
672. debrr
Re: seepage from floor of Gulf (video)
still open to debate. judge for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2RxIQP0IBU
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Most of the casing is in Basalt..basalt fractures real easy and if a burp damages the floor around the BOP,..well

A fissure would be a very bad thing.
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Quoting Levi32:


Should mention that it's not really a big threat, just a couple of model runs, and significant development of such a system isn't very likely near South America, and is more likely to take place once it's out in the central Caribbean. A rain-maker for Trinidad for sure though.

Yeah, I see that.
It is the time of the year here (until Dec., actually) when even small systems, Storm Feeder Bands, and active waves can create chaos.
So we keep an eye on them as they approach.
And at 192 hrs out? Well, I have time to fix supper before that...
LOL, BBL
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By the time it reaches DMAX, it'll hit shear and dry air.
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20 bucks that 92L makes it to depression01L before shear rips it apart.
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Under the right "Kick"..

if it were to occur again like April 20th,..the well could spit the BOP and casings out like crap thru a sick goose
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Of course, there's the very alarming possibility that the short bit of pipe holding up the 450-ton BOP may soon erode enough to collapse under the weight, rendering any top-down fix impossible, while spewing out crude at an incredible rate. Worst-case scenario given such a break and a full oil field below: more than 1 trillion gallons total, or roughly 1500 times what has spewed so far. (http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread582892/pg1)

Pleasant thought, huh?
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Quoting pottery:

I wonder what that could mean.
As in the 'expert thought' etc, ..'beyond the relief well'
I would like to know what he meant.
Does he think that the casing is fractured or is gas/oil leaking around the casing, or what, all the way down at the bottom of the hole?
Because there is nothing coming up anywhere except from the BOP as far as we know...
And the BOP is connected to the top of the casing.
Strange.




Pott.. they were leaking drillers mud from around the BOP when they were pumping it. It seems the oil has either breached the casing, or is traveling up the annulus because the grout/cement job was bad. They cannot crimp the riser, or valve it off because the entire system would pressurize and then the oil would flow out of the rock formations unabated. I'm reasonable sure the only option for us now is the relief wells. They have to break unto the existing well at 18000 feet and stop the leakage at it's source. Having said that, remember that the first relief well at Ixtoc did not work.

How this proceeds will in a large measure be determined by how many times the rigs get chased off the site by hurricanes remembering they have to leave early and find a safe place to go.. running around the storm or making port somewhere the storm won't affect. This could happen multiple times and delay things even further.. all because BP wanted to save some dough.

Here is a link to an interview that goes into the issue of leaking formations;

Keith Olbermann: Has the oil spill created a 'doomsday effect' for the Gulf? - 06/08/10
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Quoting msgambler:
not much humor... evening Pat


yo...

Evening neighbor.

Any Huey P. trips upcoming?
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92L fizzles; 92E strengthens while 93E is born

Please visit my blog and post comments. I really appreciate it. Thanks!
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Quoting Levi32:


LOL....that's the 18z GFS 192-hours. In all honesty though, you are likely to get rain from that wave when it passes by, in whatever form it may be in. It may very well try to start developing before it gets to the southeast Caribbean.

ECMWF had it too.



Should mention that it's not really a big threat, just a couple of model runs, and significant development of such a system isn't very likely near South America, and is more likely to take place once it's out in the central Caribbean. A rain-maker for Trinidad for sure though.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26754
661. debrr
lightening strike in Gulf gush area started fire, reportedly around 9:30 AM, stopping containment efforts.

Can anyone tell me if lightening is rare at that time of the day/year in the Gulf waters?
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Quoting Patrap:



Hardly..Drak.

Chicklit added the Humor
not much humor... evening Pat
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
THAT WOULD BE A MAJOR ISSUE

Absolutely.
I had not heard anything about that (I have not really been keeping up with it - too dam depressing)
Is there confirmation anywhere that oil is seen coming from AROUND the well-head?
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Quoting pottery:

OK. I had not seen that - seepage from the floor is a whole new issue....
THAT WOULD BE A MAJOR ISSUE
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657. debrr
links to the Gulf ROVs:

www.wkrg.com (1 live feed only) with ongoing comments

http://tentdwellers.org/bp_cams.php
(12 feeds, 3x4 on screen)


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Has the shear and dry air come early or does 92L still have one D-max before it comes? Also could it reform in a Caribbean or just north of? I think 92L is mostly dead. But there's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.
I wouldn't look for loose change yet Max.
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Quoting tkeith:
from the friction inside the well...the damaged BOP...the failed attempts...I think the flow is increasing daay by day. There are some good ROV views of cracks in the seabed around the well with oil coming up out of the floor of the Gulf...I checked the coordinates it's at the well site...

OK. I had not seen that - seepage from the floor is a whole new issue....
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Quoting pottery:

You are NOT allowed to do that, without a date-stamp on it!!
SHOULD I HEAD FOR THE OUTHOUSE NOW ?? SIR?


LOL....that's the 18z GFS 192-hours. In all honesty though, you are likely to get rain from that wave when it passes by, in whatever form it may be in. It may very well try to start developing before it gets to the southeast Caribbean.

ECMWF had it too.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26754
Quoting tkeith:
from the friction inside the well...the damaged BOP...the failed attempts...I think the flow is increasing daay by day. There are some good ROV views of cracks in the seabed around the well with oil coming up out of the floor of the Gulf...I checked the coordinates it's at the well site...


links for these rov views? please?
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Quoting MrstormX:
Dweebs, eh?

yeah, poetic license and a little humor.
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Quoting Levi32:


Pottery....look out lol.


You are NOT allowed to do that, without a date-stamp on it!!
SHOULD I HEAD FOR THE OUTHOUSE NOW ?? SIR?
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Good model support for a potential system in the 8-10 day time frame. If 92L does not give us Alex this next system may pose a threat to become the first named storm.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 31656
Quoting IKE:


I heard an expert on CNN a week ago stating he thought it could be damaged beyond the relief well.

Congressional hearings today...ALL of the oil companies have the same plan as BP for an oil spill!

I wonder what that could mean.
As in the 'expert thought' etc, ..'beyond the relief well'
I would like to know what he meant.
Does he think that the casing is fractured or is gas/oil leaking around the casing, or what, all the way down at the bottom of the hole?
Because there is nothing coming up anywhere except from the BOP as far as we know...
And the BOP is connected to the top of the casing.
Strange.


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Looks like the models got it right on the EPAC systems.
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Quoting pottery:

Deteriorating in what way?


Pottery....look out lol.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26754
The well has a lot of problems below the BOP.

If we lose the Bore,

..well,...things can go for years..spill wise.
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Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 31656
Quoting Levi32:
92L not giving up....trying to burst during diurnal minimum, something it hasn't done before.

Agreed. Tonight I have some stuff to do so I'll probably be up until the beginning of the diurnal maximum (2:00-3:00 AM EDT). Let's see if it can fire some convection during that time frame.
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643. IKE
Quoting WatchingThisOne:


Per a very well researched article in Rolling Stone, the median of independent scientific estimates is 55,000 bbl/day. At 42 gal/bbl, that is 2.3 million gallons/day. If they can continuously capture 15,000 bbl/day the number drops to 1.7 million gallons/day.

Although this might be breaking "official" news, it's right in the ballpark of what independent experts have been saying all along. There may additionally be substantial seepage from the ocean floor if the casing below the well has been compromised and now provides a path into the foundation, as seems likely.

All eyes are on the relief well drillers, and will remain there until this is done (probably in the October to December time frame, given the very active tropical cyclone season that is being forecast by pretty much everyone. Sadly, we are unlikely to "get lucky" with weather conditions.)


I heard that too...Oct. to December.
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GFS 18z shows a decent system from the tropical atlantic getting into the Central Caribbea
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 31656
92L not giving up....trying to burst before diurnal minimum is even over, something it hasn't done before.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26754
Quoting IKE:
BREAKING NEWS from CNN.....

Government experts....estimate...35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day flowing from the GOM oil volcano. They're capturing 15,000 barrels a day.

You do the math!

BP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Per a very well researched article in Rolling Stone, the median of independent scientific estimates is 55,000 bbl/day. At 42 gal/bbl, that is 2.3 million gallons/day. If they can continuously capture 15,000 bbl/day the number drops to 1.7 million gallons/day.

Although this might be breaking "official" news, it's right in the ballpark of what independent experts have been saying all along. There may additionally be substantial seepage from the ocean floor if the casing below the wellhead has been compromised and now provides a path into the foundation, as seems likely.

All eyes are on the relief well drillers, and will remain there until this is done (probably in the October to December time frame, given the very active tropical cyclone season that is being forecast by pretty much everyone. Sadly, we are unlikely to "get lucky" with weather conditions.)
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Dweebs, eh?
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Quoting pottery:

Deteriorating in what way?
from the friction inside the well...the damaged BOP...the failed attempts...I think the flow is increasing daay by day. There are some good ROV views of cracks in the seabed around the well with oil coming up out of the floor of the Gulf...I checked the coordinates it's at the well site...
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Quoting twhcracker:


omg thank goodness. i was offended on behalf of all dweebs altho i am a college educated large dweeb.


maybe, but your hat is the coolest... so dweeb away!
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BP Engineer Called Deepwater Horizon 'Nightmare Well' Days Before Blast, Oil Spill




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Quoting TampaSpin:
I was just looking at the live feeds of the Oil mess.....i know BP claims they are collecting nearly 12,000barrels a day i believe was the last i heard......have you all looked at it...heck there looks like 12,000 barrel are still coming out....you all gotta keep into mind when looking at the oil just how big the pipe there is.....its a lot larger than it appears.....I don't know..but, what a mess!


Obama was here in Pensacola today. This spill is going to have long lasting effects on the entire west coast of FL for years and years.
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Quoting IKE:
144 hour 18Z GFS....what's that east of the islands? Coming in line with the ECMWF...

It's that wave that emerged off of Africa a couple days ago, it's just west of the African coast right now.
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632. IKE
Quoting pottery:

Deteriorating in what way?


I heard an expert on CNN a week ago stating he thought it could be damaged beyond the relief well.

Congressional hearings today...ALL of the oil companies have the same plan as BP for an oil spill!
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Quoting Chicklit:
Not the dweeb part ! (ROFL)


omg thank goodness. i was offended on behalf of all dweebs altho i am a college educated large dweeb.
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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