Archive for May, 2010

History: Oil In The Gulf
May 26, 2010

A big topic of discussion has been what will happen with the oil in the the Gulf of Mexico if a hurricane or tropical storm goes over it.  There has been a lot of speculation on TV, but not a lot of perspective on history.  On June 3, 1979, a Pemex oil rig exploded and spewed oil for nearly 10 months with the oil reaching southeast Texas.  Three different tropical systems moved over the oil.  What happened?  Click on the image for the history of oil in the Gulf.   


Weather Quiz Answer Archive #2
May 26, 2010


To view other weather quiz answers click here:
Past Weather Quiz Answers

Oil Spill Reaching the Florida Keys
May 18, 2010

This isn’t a surprise, but it is sobering to see that some of the oil has gotten caught up in the loop current. You can see from the latest NOAA satellite image how a thin sheen of oil is moving southeastward.

On a previous post I discussed how eddies are steering the oil. As you can see, these two eddies moved the oil right into the loop current.

I get asked a lot about the oil reaching southeast Texas. My answer has been consistent: It will eventually get here if the oil spill can’t be contained. I’ve been tracking the NOAA oil forecasts since day one and the one thing that sticks out to me is how the oil is spreading out in all directions. If the oil keeps spewing, it will affect southeast Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and, yes, the east coast.  For now the thickest oil is southwest of the original explosion. Click the image to get a closer look.

Where Is The Oil Slick Going?
May 7, 2010

This the latest colorized satellite image from Rofer’s Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service.  Notice how the thickest oil is south of the spill (red dot) and now moving southwest.  The lighter color is a thinner oil or oil sheen.  The loop current isn’t affecting the spill just yet, rather the clockwise rotating eddy centered near 89.25W & 27.37N is controlling the flow of the oil spill.  In fact, all of the small eddies are steering the oil away from land for now.

This is NOAA’s oil spill forecast for Sunday:  Most of the thick oil is still well off shore, but there are a few areas getting beached oil.  Click image to see better detail.

If the oil spill can’t be stopped, eventually it will make it into the loop current and head toward south Florida.  From there it catches the Gulf Stream and moves toward Cape Hatteras and the east coast.

Some things to keep in mind …  the initial media reports of the oil on land will be, “It isn’t that bad; we thought this was going to be much worse.”  The reason you’ll hear this is because the oil is becoming weathered, which means the thickest oil is sinking to the ocean floor first.  What we don’t see  is the impact on tuna, dolphin, marlin, sharks, plankton, etc.  It will take more time to get this oil to the surface.