Isaac lashing the Keys; an eyewall is building

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:48 PM GMT on August 26, 2012

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Tropical Storm Isaac is steadily organizing as it lashes the Florida Keys with heavy rain and tropical storm-force winds. Sustained winds of 44 mph and 41 mph have been observed at Molasses Reef and Sombrero Key, respectively, this morning. Radar out of Key West shows an increase in spiral banding, and the beginnings of an eyewall. An Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft completed its first pass through the center of Isaac near 11:30 am EDT, and did not find the pressure had fallen, or that the peak winds had increased. Infrared and visible satellite loops show that Isaac is a large and increasingly well-organized storm. An analysis of upper level winds from the University of Wisconsin CIMSS shows that upper-level outflow is quite good and increasing to the north, but is lacking elsewhere. Moderate wind shear and dry air to the south are interfering with heavy thunderstorm development on Isaac's south side. Heavy rains from Isaac are lingering over Haiti and the Dominican Republic; flash floods in Haiti from Isaac's torrential rains killed at least four people.


Figure 1. Morning reflectivity image from the Radar out of Key West radar shows the northwest section of an eyewall beginning to form to the southeast of the city.

Latest model runs for Isaac
The latest set of 0Z and 06Z (8 pm and 2 am EDT) model runs have diverged significantly, and we can no longer be confident we know where Isaac will make landfall on the Gulf Coast. One camp of models, the UKMET and ECMWF, predict that a trough of low pressure moving across the Southeast U.S. will be strong enough to turn Isaac north to a landfall in the Florida Panhandle. The other set of models, the GFDL, GFS, and HWRF, predict the trough will bypass Isaac, and a ridge of high pressure will build in and force Isaac to a landfall over Louisiana. The official NHC forecast averages out these two extremes, calling for a landfall midway between the two solutions. Odds are, one of the two model solutions will turn out to be the correct one, and the NHC will be forced to make a substantial adjustment in their forecast track to the east or the west. Isaac has the potential to drop torrential rains capable of causing serious flooding and drought relief over the South. The latest 8-day precipitation forecast from the GFS model calls for 10 - 20 inches of rain over Southeast Louisiana, where it predicts Isaac will make landfall. The ECMWF model, however, these heavy rains will fall more over the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, and Georgia.


Figure 2. A hurricane forecaster's dilemma: which set of models is correct? The latest set of 0Z and 06Z (8 pm and 2 am EDT) model runs have diverged significantly. Our two top models--the GFS and ECMWF--have 72-hour forecasts that are about 350 miles apart. The ECMWF forecast is not shown here, but lies just to the west of the UKMET forecast (white line.)

Intensity forecast for Isaac
Isaac survived passage over Hispaniola and Cuba relatively intact. It's large size aided this. Isaac is over very warm waters of 31°C (88°F) with high total heat content in the Florida Straits, but is encountering moderate wind shear of 10 - 15 knots due to upper-level winds out of the southwest. This shear is predicted to relax to the light range tonight as an upper-level anticyclone becomes established over the storm. This should allow for more substantial intensification after Isaac passes the Florida Keys. However, the total heat content of the ocean decreases for Isaac Monday morning as it encounters a relatively cool ocean eddy in the Southeast Gulf of Mexico. If Isaac takes a more westerly track, passing due south of the Central Louisiana coast, the storm will encounter a modest warm eddy, which would aid intensification. The intensify forecasts from the various models are very divergent. The latest 06Z (2 am EDT) run of the GFDL model keeps Isaac as a strong tropical storm until landfall in Louisiana. Isaac will undergo rapid intensification into a Category 3 hurricane as it hits New Orleans, says the latest 06Z (2 am EDT) run of the HWRF model. The ECMWF model has Isaac as a strong Category 2 storm with a central pressure near 950 mb as it hits near the Alabama/Florida border.

Comparing Isaac with Ike of 2008
The current situation with Isaac is similar in some ways to that of Hurricane Ike of 2008. Ike spent considerable time over Cuba, weakening from a Category 4 to a Category 1 storm. The storm couldn't put its energy into building a strong inner core, but it was able to build up its outer rainbands that were over very warm waters. This resulted in a major expansion of its wind field, with tropical storm-force winds extending out 275 miles from the center at one point. Ike was able to intensify into a Category 2 storm on its path towards Texas, and had an unusually low pressure for a Cat 2 storm with 100 mph winds--944 mb. That's a central pressure more typical of a Category 3 storm, but Ike could only manage Category 2 winds, since it had such a large chunk of the atmosphere to keep spinning. With Isaac's TS winds already extending out to 205 miles, maybe we'll see another Ike-type situation as it intensifies--the storm will have an unusually low pressure in order to keep a huge wind field spinning, but never make it above Category 2, since it will take so long to spin up such a large wind field.

Storm surge forecast for Isaac
Isaac is a very large storm, with tropical storm-force winds that extend out 205 miles from the center. For comparison, Hurricane Katrina at landfall had tropical storm-force winds that extended out 230 miles from its center. Isaac's large size will enable it to set a large area of the ocean into motion, which will generate a large storm surge once the storm approaches land on the Gulf Coast. The latest 3:30 am EDT Integrated Kinetic Energy analysis from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division put the destructive potential of Isaac's winds near 0 on a scale of 1 to 6, but the destructive potential of Isaacs's storm surge was 2.1 on a scale of 1 to 6. A 2008 paper by Irish et al., The influence of storm size on hurricane surge, found that large storms like Isaac are capable to delivering a 30% larger storm surge to the coast than a smaller storm with the same maximum wind speeds. The angle with which the storm hit the coast is important, too--a storm moving due north or slightly east of north will deliver a storm surge about 10% greater than a storm moving NNW or NW. Consult our Storm Surge pages for detailed information on what the risk is for the coast. I expect that Isaac's storm surge will be about 30% higher than the typical surge one would expect based on the maximum wind speeds.

Invest 97L off the coast of Africa
A tropical wave (Invest 97L) is located about 650 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. The storm has a modest amount of spin and heavy thunderstorms, and is under moderate wind shear. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 97L a 50% chance of developing by Tuesday morning. None of the reliable models foresee that 97L will be a threat to the Lesser Antilles Islands. However, both the GFS and ECMWF models predict that a tropical wave that has not yet emerged from the coast of Africa may develop late this week, and potentially take a more westward track towards the Lesser Antilles, arriving around September 2.

Angela Fritz will have a new post here by 6 pm EDT. For the next few days, I plan to do the morning blog post, and Angela will be doing the late afternoon post. I'm in Atlanta to help out The Weather Channel with their on-air hurricane coverage, and will be on either in the afternoon or evening on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Articuno:
Earthquake swarm in SoCal.


BIG roller just went through. Whole floor just waved out.
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1474. sar2401
Quoting ITCZ:
Tallahassee NWS now telling us inland folks, Tuesday: 100% chance precip, tornadoes possible, tropical storm force winds @ 40 mph gusts. Still looking at 7-10 inches on already saturated ground....but hey, thank you, great weather science gods-- i live in the woods, on high ground, and this forecast helps my peace of mind much. :-)



First, 40 mph gusts don't qualify as TS force winds. A TD maybe, but not TS. Second, this is based on several east model runs. There are several reliable models that want to takes Issac about 400 miles to the west, over LA, in which case you will see nothing but some showers. Until all the reliable models begin to converge, just pay attention to what's actually happening and not model runs.
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Sitting in Fort Myers watching the rain - they did announce mandatory evcac for the barrier islands - due to storm surge forecasts. Not too much wind yet...
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Quoting sar2401:


I guess the trolls are coming out in force. POOF!


I am a meteorology passionate and i made some accurate forecasts for last winter for S-E Europe. I read this blog from 2008 since Ike and i assure you i am not a troll. The conditions in the gulf are appropiate for a rapid intensification and for the last 3 days the majority of weather models shifted Isaac track westerly from Florida every day.
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Impressive how much Isaac has organized since this morning.

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On the latest key west image. Looks like he's starting to fill in the southwest quadrant. Still waiting for him to start feeding convection in from the southwest though.
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If this hits LA, I hope this massive sinkhole doesn't give way even further. This thing is growing quicker than anticipated and is now getting closer to the salt dome reservoirs filled with Butane.

This could get VERY ugly!

SinkHole CNN

Examiner

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Earthquake swarm in SoCal.
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Quoting SykKid:


convection is waning. what are you talking about


Convection is not waning.

It lost a hot tower, but gained like triple the area of reds on Funktop.

How is that waning?
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Quoting sar2401:


I guess the trolls are coming out in force. POOF!


Raising the first red and black DOOM pennant here at the Fortress of Squalitude in Gentilly. Also, packing.I should get settled down in my room and back to work in Jackson just in time for the power to go out there.
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Quoting gbreezegirl:
The ants are going crazy in my back yard now. Just sayin. Also have a bunch of hummingbirds at my feeder that I never had b4. Strange days.

you know - funny you should say that. I haven't seen hummingbirds in a a while. But, had one at my home today as did my Mom.
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1464. shfr173
Quoting Drakoen:
Looks like Issac may want to start taking that turn towards the NW.
don't say the "N" word, people on this blog tends to get PO'd
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@wxbrad

Grand Isle, LA starting to evacuate already for #Isaac.
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Quoting hurricanehanna:


Wow...and to think we just knew this was going to stay in Fl. Never can tell eh?


Yeah this is crazy. Or it's making me so. Lol.
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Quoting sar2401:


You just heard this from who or what source? Please, if you're going to post things like this, give an offical source. Facebook doesn't count. :)


http://www.breakingnews.com/item/ahZzfmJyZWFraW5n bmV3cy13d3ctaHJkcg0LEgRTZWVkGPyE4wkM/2012/08/26/ma ndatory-evacuations-issued-for-parts-of-lee-county -florida-includi
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In Lee County, it was announced early this morning mandatory evacuations for Fory Myers Beach, Bonita Beach and Big and Little Hickory Islands. It"s because of the potential storm surge.
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Quoting sar2401:


You just heard this from who or what source? Please, if you're going to post things like this, give an offical source. Facebook doesn't count. :)


i heard same thing. i heard it was the barrier islands from bonita beach north to up to and including ft myers beach. as far as i knew sanibel and captiva were not evacuating.
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Computational Models: when models are working ok, doing more computations with more data results in predictions that converge on “correct” solution. When model runs are diverging, something is not working like it’s supposed to.

Until the model runs start converging, there won’t be a good idea of where Isaac will end up. Hopefully, the model runs are showing the possible range of outcomes (assuming nothing big was missed).

Isaac is starting to look more like a hurricane: I hope that helps – sooner than later.
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Weeeeeeeee....whole lot of shakin going on out here!

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/map/
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:




Hello athome...always good to see you!!
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1455. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38523
EGR2 is that the European or UKMET?

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Quoting Drakoen:
Looks like Issac may want to start taking that turn towards the NW.


are you wanting it to turn or it really might be turning? im hoping its turning too! craziest storm!
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N.O. met on TWC Get ready Louisiana
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:
Guy on TWC just said people as far west as Houston need to pay attention.


Wow...and to think we just knew this was going to stay in Fl. Never can tell eh?
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WDSU and WVUE have gone to live WX prior to a New Orleans city press conference scheduled for 2:45 PM CDT. Gov. Jindal will give a press conference later. "You are getting very, very sleepy. When you awake the storm will be over."
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1448. sar2401
Quoting Masquer08er:
In Mobile, we got a "we'll decide Monday" email. Gotta love 'em!


Even assuming Mobile gets a direct hit, it won't be tomorrow. There's no reason to cancel school tomorrow. Seems like a reasonable approach to me.
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1447. ITCZ
Tallahassee NWS now telling us inland folks, Tuesday: 100% chance precip, tornadoes possible, tropical storm force winds @ 40 mph gusts. Still looking at 7-10 inches on already saturated ground....but hey, thank you, great weather science gods-- i live in the woods, on high ground, and this forecast helps my peace of mind much. :-)

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Quoting bluebonnetgirl:
Just curious, what are some of the models seeing that would bring this storm to the west???? Our local news here in SETX said yesterday that we have a high over Texas that would protect us from Isaac. Is the high moving??


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Long time lurker (back from when this site was hosted at cirrus.uwc.edu) but rarely post.

If any of you do need to evacuate, and you know your back roads, use them instead.

I was visiting family in South Florida when Hurricane Andrew approached. After getting my relatives prepared, I hightailed it back home to St. Pete. The old roads (such as Highway 27--otherwise known as Dead Man's Alley) were totally clear. The interstate was crawling at six miles an hour and numerous folks were running out of gas or overheating in the traffic.

Local knowledge is important, though, since Google Maps or Mapquest would not know that some roads are prone to flooding and are not safe alternatives.
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Quoting Drakoen:
Looks like Issac may want to start taking that turn towards the NW.


didnt most of the forecast models not forecast that?

I personally think the Euro has this one right and landfall will be on the east side of the cone
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7726
The ants are going crazy in my back yard now. Just sayin. Also have a bunch of hummingbirds at my feeder that I never had b4. Strange days.
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Portlight Disaster Relief effort.

We are coordinating a pro-active response to potential Hurricane Isaac's landfall along the Gulf Coast. This pro-active response is a major step forward for Portlight and would not have been possible without each of you that have been involved over the past four years since our large scale disaster relief effort after Hurricane Ike devastated the Texas Gulf Coast. The response to Hurricane Ike was a profound effort of everyone working together which accomplished a lot of great things including repatriating BillyBadBird, feeding the Bolivar Peninsula, delivering needed supplies to Bridge City, Tx (which was inundated by Ike's surge), providing medical equipment to the disabled, and the heart warming Christmas Party for the residents of Bridge City, Tx. It was truly a group effort and none of it would have been possible if we had not had so many step up, get involved, and provide support and assistance in whatever way each individual could.

The Portlight Disaster Relief team will be heading to the Gulf Coast today in order to stage a pro-active response for potential Hurricane Isaac. Yankee-1 SAR Team will be joining the Portlight Team during this relief effort. In advance of the storm we will work to facilitate evacuations. Once the storm has passed, our initial response will be to work our way in to the forgotten communities, provide any search and rescue assistance that is needed, perform debris removal in order to restore access to these areas, and perform a needs assessment of the unserved people.

The Isaac relief effort will take the same outpouring of support that we have had with our previous efforts and we need as many people as possible to get involved in any way they can.

This is where all of you come in! We will need assistance in identifying the under-served and no one knows a community better than those that live in it. We will also need assistance navigating through the various chains of command in these communities. We are also assessing our location to ride the storm out on an hour by hour basis and would greatly appreciate in assistance in doing so by those along the N Gulf Coast.

You can live stream video of all our efforts @ www.stormjunkie.com

One of Portlight's focuses has always been and always will be on providing assistance to the disabled; once again it will take the efforts of those intimately involved with the community to identify these opportunities for us. If you can assist with any of these things, please contact paul@portlight.org. You may also WU mail Presslord. Or you can reach Paul by phone for 843-817-2651.

Finally, as with any disaster relief effort, we will need financial support. Donations of any size will help us better meet the needs of the under served, un-served, and forgotten communities along the Northern Gulf Coast.

This can not be said enough; thank-you to everyone that gets involved and keeps those impacted in their thoughts and prayers.

Learn more about Portlight Strategies, Inc. @ www.portlight.org
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Houston/Galveston Office:
DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY
ISOLATED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS ARE POSSIBLE THROUGH TUESDAY.
TROPICAL STORM ISAAC IS FORECAST TO MOVE INLAND ALONG THE THE
NORTH CENTRAL GULF COAST STATES WHICH WILL KEEP SOUTHEAST TEXAS
DRY. A WESTWARD SHIFT IN THE FORECAST PATH WOULD RESULT IN MUCH
GREATER CHANCE FOR HAZARDOUS WEATHER FOR SOUTHEAST TEXAS.
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Quoting JasonRE:


Good afternoon Caneloader. Lafayette here as well. Wondering if we should begin to worry at all with this system. Good luck with your cane.

I wouldn't worry. Yet. I would make sure you have a plan in place. Things likely to get nuts in this town by tomorrow if the track shifts west anymore. Get gas (for generator too if you have one). Make sure to get cash, as ATM's are down if we lose power. Just wait and see. No panicking yet :)
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1439. dmh1026
Mandatory Evacuation Orders from Lee County Emergency Ops Center...http://www.leeeoc.com/admin/Breaking%20News/Media %20Release%203.pdf
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:


Busy eating doughnuts? Recon says different and I do trust them over TWC. Really it's why I don't watch the weather channel.


quit being silly.

The winds dropped 5mph and TWC reported that.

The pressure dropped 2mb and they reported that.

They mentioned that the winds came down so it "weakened" but that it probably didn't mean much at that time.


What else are they supposed to do?

It was the NHC that dropped the wind speed by 5mph, not TWC. TWC just reported what NHC says.

If you don't like it, blame NHC.
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1437. pottery
Quoting guygee:
On a local scale, yes, especially where there is significant erosion in places where where crude residue is currently covered by sediment. Is that a major concern in this potential developing disaster? no...the damage has already been done.

That's a good point, too.... unfortunately.
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1436. Drakoen
Looks like Issac may want to start taking that turn towards the NW.
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1434. LargoFl
Quoting masonsnana:
thats great..he's a good neighbor
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38523
Quoting Levi32:
Here's the GFDL. It has Isaac taking its time strengthening as a still broad circulation in the central gulf, only going sub-970mb and becoming a Cat 2 just before running into Louisiana. This is the kind of solution that would pan out if Isaac takes a while to mix out the dry air still in his circulation.

What we're watching closely for now is the formation of a tight core with consistent convection at the center today or tonight, with hurricane force winds in the eyewall. If it can accomplish that tonight and be a strengthening hurricane going into the middle of the gulf, it could easily become a major.



It is pretty obvious from Radar that a lot of moisture is about to wrap back around, and in about 4 hours the dry air source (Cuba) will be too far away to have much of an effect. I think that the storm will pretty quickly catch up to the intensity it was at before it hit Haiti (989mb?), then it will consolidate into a 987Mb hurricane by midnight and very slowly intensify as it moves towards the warmer waters.
Member Since: December 28, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 134
1432. sar2401
Quoting kschaser2:
Anyone have a pic of the loop current location? If there is a warm eddy for Issac to run over they'll be problems...


There is no loop current in the Gulf this year. There are both warm and cool pools of water. Isaac will intensify faster if he slows down over a warm pool and may not intensify much if at all if he spends time over a cool pool. This is not a 2005 scenario.
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Quoting EcoLogic:

Yes, the Superintendent did a robo call this afternoon with the announcement.
In Mobile, we got a "we'll decide Monday" email. Gotta love 'em!
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Dredge in Orange Beach working in Perdido Pass hits submerged oil mat



Posted: Saturday, May 5, 2012 11:24 am | Updated: 7:27 am, Wed May 9, 2012.

BY JOHN MULLEN theislander@gulfcoastnewspapers.com

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. %u2013 A dredge contractor working for the Army Corps of Engineers hit a submerged oil mat Saturday morning causing a strong odor and oily sheen in the area of Outcast Marina, a city official said.

%u201CApparently about 5 o%u2019clock the Corps became aware, the dredge contractor and the Corps site superintendent became aware that they hit what appears to be, or dug into what appears to be a submerged oil mat that%u2019s been covered for some time,%u201D Coastal Resources Manager Phillip West said Saturday morning. %u201CFrom what I understand they immediately moved off that site but they uncovered up with seems to be a good amount of oil. I don%u2019t know how to quantify it.%u201D

West said city officials have taken samples to be tested to find the origin of the oil.
%u201CWe have water samples and seaweed samples that appear to have an oily substance on it to be sent to Auburn to be tested,%u201D he said. %u201CThey hit some oil, released some, don%u2019t know how much. Don%u2019t know if that was all of it or just a small part of it.%u201D
BP, West believes, is aware of the incident.

%u201CThey%u2019re part of the management team and the Coast Guard was there,%u201D West said. %u201CThey own 49 percent of the response and have authority over 49 percent of the response so I feel like by now everybody knows. Now I don%u2019t know how far up the chain that goes with them.%u201D

West didn%u2019t arrive on scene until about 8 a.m. but still saw evidence of the oil.
%u201CThere was quite a bit of sheen in the marina still even on the outside, on the incoming tide there was a good bit of sheen,%u201D he said. %u201CBut we really couldn%u2019t find, except for some seaweed that may be coated, but there%u2019s a possibility that%u2019s been coated for some time.%u201D

The Corps was addressing some %u201Chot spots%u201D in channels in Perdido Pass and West said about 25,000 cubic yards would be removed, but not pumped back onto beaches because of concerns it may contain oil.

Problems with tar mats are something West has been anticipating. Several are believed to be off the beaches of both Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.

%u201CI hate to say it but it was bound to happen,%u201D West said. "This is not, in my opinion a big surprise. We intuitively have felt that there was tar trapped inside the pass and that%u2019s where you get tar balls. You%u2019ve got to get them from somewhere.

%u201CWith everything shoaling up it probably just continued to cover %u2018em so that%u2019s we%u2019d asked the incident management team, the response, to do more investigations on the locations and extent of the submerged oil mat.%u201D

How to deal with the mat now that has been located is another matter. First, West said he%u2019ll ask the state to inspect the site.

%u201CI just don%u2019t know how anyone would be able to quantify how much oil they disturbed but I would be willing to bet that the remainder of the mat is still there,%u201D West said. %u201COr it may not be. We know just about right where they were cutting when they hit it and we%u2019ll be able to go back and investigate.

%u201CWe%u2019ll get with the state and see if they can bring a coring vessel for that whole area.%u201D
Dealing with tar mats long term is something officials all along the coast have been struggling with. West sees no easy answers.

%u201CI guess I have two conflicting feelings on that,%u201D he said. %u201COne, it was covered, let%u2019s leave it covered until after the season. Number two, if you know it%u2019s there, go get it and study it and clean it up.

%u201CI%u2019m just not sure. I guess if I were more confident that they had a sound method of addressing the mat and cleaning it up without making a big mess, I would say yeah, let%u2019s go ahead and clean it up. It would kind of be a no-brainer.%u201D

But there is no such method, West said. And the solutions officials came up with weren%u2019t pretty.

%u201CBut I don%u2019t have that confidence and I don%u2019t know that they have a real good grasp on how to address submerged oil mats that lay off shore that can%u2019t be reached by land like this one,%u201D he said.

The best method West said that came up in meetings about tar matts involved scooping as much as you can and when it breaks up and pick up the pieces when they wash up on the beach.

%u201CNow%u2019s not a good time to do that,%u201D he said, indicating the looming tourist season. %u201CInwardly, I%u2019m just conflicted. I%u2019m sure as this gets passed around the branch and over to New Orleans and back, we%u2019ll get some idea of how they want to deal with it.%u201D

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Guy on TWC just said people as far west as Houston need to pay attention.
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1428. LargoFl
Quoting interstatelover7165:
4 more posts til 1000!
yep blog is going strong today
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Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4979
Quoting GBguy88:
There was a large area of submerged oil found in Perdido Pass in May. I'd post the link, but that's against the rules, yes? Easily found on Google.


I read where the oil was sampled and did not match that from the oil rig..
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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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