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Satellite images show most of an estimated 4.6 million gallons of oil has pooled in a floating, shape-shifting blob off the Louisiana coast. Some has reached shore as a thin sheen, and gooey bits have washed up as far away as Alabama. But the spill is 23 days old since the Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20 and killed 11 workers, and the thickest stuff hasn’t shown up on the coast.
So, where’s the oil? Where’s it going to end up?
Government scientists and others tracking the spill say much of the oil is lurking just below the surface. But there seems to be no consensus on whether it will arrive in black waves, mostly dissipate into the massive Gulf or gradually settle to the ocean floor, where it could seep into the ecosystem for years.
When it comes to deepwater spills, even top experts rely on some guesswork.
One of their tools, a program the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uses to predict how oil spills on the surface of water may behave, suggests that more than a third of the oil may already be out of the water.
The size and shape of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico changes by the day, depending on weather conditions as well as conditions in the Gulf itself.
This graphic shows the forecast for Friday, May 14, and Saturday, May 15. The shapes of the oil slick are created from information by pilots during flyovers, as well as trajectories created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Thursday.
Deepwater Horizon Incident, Gulf of Mexico
As the nation’s leading scientific resource for oil spills, NOAA has been on the scene of the Deepwater Horizon spill from the start, providing coordinated scientific weather and biological response services to federal, state and local organizations.
Situation: Thursday 13 May
Today, David Kennedy, acting Assistant Administrator for NOAA’s National Ocean Service joined EPA at a community listening session in Houma, Louisiana while Dr. Larry Robinson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at NOAA received operational updates on Shoreline Clean-up and Assessment Team activities on Dauphin Island, Alabama, at the incident command center in Mobile. Also today, Mary Glackin, Deputy Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere at NOAA participated in a federal agency community information session in Port Sulphur, Louisiana. Mary Glackin also conducted an overflight of the oil spill.
All ports in the area are open. Winds are expected to continue into the weekend with scattered thunderstorms, and isolated rain Monday and Tuesday. A cold front is expected in about a week.
NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center are conducting bottlenose dolphin studies in Mississippi and Louisiana. The samples will be used to evaluate baseline levels of exposure to oil and other environmental contaminants. The team will be working near Grand Isle, Louisiana, and in Mississippi Sound. Fish and shrimp are being monitored in the closed areas.
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL 845 PM EDT THU MAY 13 2010 AT UPPER LEVELS... THE LARGE SCALE CONUS PATTERN HIGHLIGHTED BY A TROUGH OVER THE NRN PLAINS EXTENDING SWWD THRU CNTRL ROCKIES INTO SRN CA...RIDGING EXTENDING FROM ONTARIO SWD INTO GULF OF MEX...AND A TROUGH OVER ERN CANADA. FAST SW MID LEVEL FLOW WAS NOTED FROM THE SOUTHERN PLAINS INTO THE GREAT LAKES. SRN STREAM DOMINATED BY DEEP LAYER RIDGING OVER THE SOUTHEASTERN STATES WITH GUIDANCE SHOWING THAT H5 HIGH HAS STRENGTHENED SLIGHTLY DURING THE LAST 24 HOURS ACCOUNTING FOR UNSEASONABLY WARM TEMPERATURES. ON FRIDAY...STRONG SHORTWAVE CURRENTLY CROSSING WRN AZ AT BASE OF TROUGH MOVES QUICKLY EWD. AS A RESULT...SE RIDGE/HIGH WILL WEAKEN AND SHIFT EVER SO SLIGHTLY OFFSHORE BUT WITH LITTLE LOCAL IMPACT ON HOT...HUMID AND DRY WEATHER. WITH WRN TROUGH PIVOTING EWD TO 4 CORNERS REGION ON SAT...SE RIDGE WILL SLIP FURTHER EWD ON SATURDAY WITH LOCAL CAP ERODING. AT LOWER LEVELS... ANALYSIS SHOWS A RIDGE AXIS STRETCHING FROM THE MID-ATLANTIC SWWD TO 1025MB HIGH JUST OFF FL/GA COAST THEN WWD TO A POSITION JUST NORTH OF THE FLORIDA/GEORGIA STATE LINE THROUGH THE PANHANDLE AND POSITIONS OF SOUTH CENTRAL GEORGIA AND ALABAMA BANGING INTO A LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM OVER THE PLAINS. SOUTH OF RIDGE...LOW LEVELS REMAIN MOIST PROVIDING HUMID CONDITIONS TO CWA. THIS REFLECTED IN 00Z REGIONAL RAOBS. I.E. TLH WITH 1.41 INCH PWAT. A COLD FRONT EXTENDING FROM THIS LOW IS FORECAST TO MOVE SLOWLY SEWD ACROSS THE MID-ATLANTIC/TN/MID MS VALLEYS...WHILE EVENTUALLY STALLING ACROSS THE SRN PLAINS ON FRIDAY AND THEN MOVE INTO NORTHERN GEORGIA ON SATURDAY. AS A RESULT...THE SE CONUS SURFACE RIDGE WILL WEAKEN AND SHIFT TO THE EAST SLIGHTLY. THERE MAY BE JUST ENOUGH LIFT TO GENERATE ISOLATED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS SATURDAY...MAINLY NORTH OF A LINE FROM DOTHAN TO ALBANY. && .SHORT TERM... WARM AND MUGGY CONDITIONS EXPECTED AGAIN WITH LOWS IN THE MID 60S. PATCHY LIGHT FOG LATE..MAINLY GA COUNTIES. && .AVIATION...SCT-BKN CI WILL CONTINUE TO GRADUALLY MOVE IN FROM THE WEST AND BEGIN TO IMPACT THE TERMINALS OVERNIGHT. THERE IS SOME CONCERN FOR STRATUS DEVELOPING OFF APALACHEE BAY AND SPREADING INLAND JUST BEFORE SUNRISE...BUT THE INCOMING CIRRUS MAY LIMIT THIS DEVELOPMENT AS WELL AS ANY VISIBILITY RESTRICTIONS AT ABY AND DHN. WILL TAKE A MORE OPTIMISTIC APPROACH TO THE FORECAST TONIGHT AND GENERALLY STAY CLOSE TO A PERSISTENCE TYPE FORECAST FOR ALL TERMINALS. ANY RESTRICTIONS IN THE MVFR CATEGORY EARLY IN THE MORNING SHOULD IMPROVE BY 14Z WITH VFR CONDITIONS EXPECTED THROUGHOUT THE DAY. && .MARINE... NOCTURNAL EASTERLY WIND SURGE POSSIBLE OVER THE OUTER WATERS LATE TONIGHT WHICH COULD PUSH WINDS UP TO AROUND 15 KTS WITH OCCASIONAL GUSTS NEAR 20 KTS AND SEAS 3 TO 4 FT. THESE WINDS WILL DIE DOWN DURING THE DAY FRIDAY...LEAVING SEAS AROUND 1 TO 3 FT DURING THE DAY. ANOTHER WIND SURGE IS POSSIBLE FOR FRIDAY NIGHT. && .FIRE WEATHER... THE RELATIVE HUMIDITY MAY DROP BELOW 35 PERCENT FOR A FEW HOURS ACROSS NORTH FLORIDA FRIDAY AFTERNOON...BUT CONFIDENCE IN THIS HAPPENING IS LOW AND EVEN IF THIS WERE TO HAPPEN...THE DURATION OF LOW RH WOULD LIKELY BE LESS THAN 4 HOURS SO A RED FLAG WARNING WILL NOT BE ISSUED AT THIS TIME.
Now that the Spring severe weather season, and what little one their was for the Southeast United States, is pretty much over, we turn our attention to Summer, and our quickly approaching hurricane season. Last season we had a very quiet pattern, due to warm Pacific and a cool Atlantic, thanks to El Nino.
El Nino is beginning to weaken and a potential reverse effect, La Nina may be setting up. Colorado State Forecasters have forecasted an above average North American Atlantic Hurricane Season. eteorologists Philip Klotzbach and William Gray — in the 27th annual early extended-range hurricane forecast issued by Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project — predict 11-16 named storms will develop, 6-8 of them hurricanes and 3-5 of the hurricanes to become major hurricanes ith winds of 111 mph or greater.
Accuweather Meteorologist Joe Bastardi seems to agree. Looking at current sea surface temperatures, it appears that the Gulf is warming quickly, as well as the mid-Atlantic ocean waters. The belt, so to speak, around the tropics, and the Gulf are looking very warm. Warm waters is conducive to vertical lift, so once we get some storms cranking off Western Africa, we’ll be watching the tropics closely, especially from August to October.
Additionally, the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting temperatures to be above average in the Southeast, with a focus on South Central Alabama over the next three months!
“The global temperature “savings” of the Kerry-Lieberman bill is astoundingly small—0.043°C (0.077°F) by 2050 and 0.111°C (0.200°F) by 2100. In other words, by century’s end, reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 83% will only result in global temperatures being one-fifth of one degree Fahrenheit less than they would otherwise be. That is a scientifically meaningless reduction.”
So apparently someone thinks the bill will have an impact on global warming. But those someones are wrong. The bill will have no meaningful impact of the future course of global warming.
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL 845 PM EDT WED MAY 12 2010 .DISCUSSION...00 UTC SURFACE ANALYSIS SHOWS A QUASI-STATIONARY FRONT ACROSS THE OHIO RIVER VALLEY AND INTO THE CENTRAL PLAINS. ANOTHER DAY OF CONVECTION IS ONGOING ACROSS THIS FRONTAL BOUNDARY IN THE CENTRAL PLAINS. HIGH PRESSURE REMAINS ANCHORED OFF THE EASTERN SEA BOARD...A FEW HUNDRED MILES EAST OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA COAST. THIS PLACES OUR REGION IN SOUTHEASTERLY LOW LEVEL FLOW...BUT WITH A WEAK BUBBLE HIGH ANALYZED ACROSS NORTH FLORIDA...OUR LOCAL FLOW HAS BECOME RELATIVELY LIGHT THIS EVENING. UPPER AIR DATA FROM 00 UTC AND VAPOR IMAGERY SHOWS A BUILDING RIDGE ACROSS THE SOUTHEAST AND INTO THE OHIO VALLEY. AS THIS RIDGE AMPLIFIES...IT WILL CAUSE THE UPPER LOW MOVING THROUGH EASTERN WYOMING TO LIFT NORTHEASTWARD INTO THE DAKOTAS AND MINNESOTA. OUR REGION WILL REMAIN SQUARELY UNDERNEATH THE CORE OF THE RIDGE...ALLOWING FOR A WARM AND DRY NEXT FEW DAYS. THE 00 UTC KTAE SOUNDING CHANGED VERY LITTLE OVER THE LAST 24 HOURS. THE MID LEVEL SUBSIDENCE INVERSION ONCE AGAIN PREVENTED MUCH OF THE DEVELOPING CU FIELD TODAY FROM BUILDING INTO ANY SHOWERS AND STORMS. HOWEVER IT APPEARS A FEW LOW TOPPED SHOWERS WERE ABLE TO DEVELOP JUST BENEATH THE SUBSIDENCE INVERSION IN THE FLORIDA PANHANDLE OVER JACKSON COUNTY LATE THIS AFTERNOON AND PERSIST INTO THE EARLY EVENING HOURS. THESE SHOWERS SHOULD NOT PERSIST MUCH PAST SUNSET THIS EVENING ONCE THE INSTABILITY OF THE DAY IS LOST. THE CURRENT FORECAST THIS EVENING IS IN GOOD SHAPE WITH TEMPERATURES AND OTHER GRIDDED VARIABLES RUNNING IN LINE WITH CURRENT OBSERVATIONS...SO NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES ARE PLANNED. HAVE A GREAT NIGHT! && .AVIATION...WE SCALED BACK THE PESSIMISTIC IFR CIG FORECAST. WHILE WE AGREE THAT LOW LEVEL MOISTURE IS INCREASING...WE WERE NOT INCLINED TO BRING THE ENTIRE AERODROME DOWN THAT FAR. WE WILL MAINTAIN THIS FORECAST ONLY FOR PFN AND LIFT THE CIG TO MVFR FOR DHN. FURTHER E...BELIEVE WE WILL SEE PRIMARILY VFR. WE ACTUALLY COULD SEE A BETTER CHANCE FOR MVFR CIGS AFTER THE SUN RISES AND STARTS TO MIX THINGS UP A BIT. THESE SHOULD QUICKLY LIFT AND SCATTER WITH AFTERNOON CLOUD BASES ABOUT 4-5 KFT. && .MARINE...LIGHT SOUTHEASTERLY FLOW CONTINUES OVER THE MARINE AREA THIS EVENING. THE MODELS SHOW A WEAK OVERNIGHT SURGE IN THE WINDS ONCE AGAIN TONIGHT.
Lots and lots of sunshine over the next few days. Breezy and warm. Today’s high will be 88. Highs will climb into the low 90s starting tomorrow.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK is the center that issues risk outlooks for severe weather across the nation. They do 1,2,3 and 4 day outlooks attempting to highlight and categorize the risk level of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Severe weather warrants strong wind gusts, damaging hail, and tornadic possibilities. The SPC breaks down their categories to Slight, Medium and High risk. Typically Southeast Alabama, Southwest Georgia and the Florida Panhandle are placed under a slight risk anywhere from 4-12 times per season, and many times the ingredients for severe weather just don’t come together. Medium risk may be 1/3 of the frequency of a slight risk, and a high risk is very rare, and only when all of the conditions for severe weather appear prime and imminent.
The SPC looks at the upper level jet stream wind speeds, possibility for vertical wind shear (the element that often leads to tornadoes), temperature, moisture availability and a trigger mechanism, which ultimately is the catalyst for severe weather. SPC forecasters look for proximity to frontal systems and what the environment is, or what’s called “the warm sector”While the local National Weather Services take over once storms are present, the Storm Prediction Center looks at synoptic scale features that would set up a severe weather event .
A few weeks ago when the Yazoo City, Mississippi tornado struck, areas of Mississippi, Tennessee and Missouri were under a high risk for severe weather. Over 15 states were under at least a slight risk, including Alabama. High risk days are not very common, and many times DO result in not only tornadoes, but long-track tornadoes, strong enough to stay on the ground for many miles.
The Yazoo City tornado was particularly dangerous because topography in the gulf states is not as flat and visibility is often much less than areas in the plains. Often times there are high precipitation storms, in which tornadoes become rain-wrapped, and poorly visible. Today parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas are under slight risk. Northeast Oklahoma, and Southeast Kansas are under HIGH risk. This is the second high risk day of 2010!
The Vortex 2 tornado chaser project put together by The Weather Channel, and composed of various meteorologists and media will be trekking the plains today in search of these storms. The best time frame today will be late afternoon/early evening. It will be interesting to see what comes of it!
The Storm Prediction Website is:
For more on the Vortex 2 Project check out:
By Ben Raines
The Louisiana State University scientist analyzing Gulf of Mexico samples for federal officials said he believes that many of the oil sightings reported in the media are not oil at all.
After a flight over the Chandeleur Islands and the Mississippi Delta Sunday, LSU’s Ed Overton said he saw little evidence of oil that had come ashore, despite reports to the contrary. Samples of an unusual material provided to him by ABC News “were definitely not petroleum.”
He speculated that the material may have been biological in nature. The material was a pinkish red shade when collected, Overton said, but later turned gray.
“They were sure it was dispersed oil, but it was not even close. There may be something biological going on out there. It may be related to the spill,” Overton said. “I’m not a biologist, but the fact that it changed color suggests maybe it died. I’m 95 percent certain that many of the things being reported are natural processes.”
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL 215 PM EDT FRI MAY 7 2010 CLOUDS WILL BEGIN TO INCREASE LATE TONIGHT AHEAD OF A WEEK COLD FRONT. EXPECT LOWS IN THE MID TO UPPER 60S. FOG/LOW CLOUDS SHOULD AGAIN DEVELOP LATE TONIGHT AHEAD OF FRONT..AND WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED TO SEE SOME WIDESPREAD LOW STRATUS AND/OR DENSE FOG. GUIDANCE SHOWING 12Z SAT DEW POINT DEPRESSION OF ONLY 1 OR 2 DEGREES MANY SITES. HIGH FOG AND OR LOW PROBABILITIES ALSO REFLECTED IN LATEST SREF GUIDANCE. LOCAL CONFIDENCE TOOL SHOWS AOA 50 PCT CHANCE OF FOG ACROSS MOST OF OUR AREA. WILL INCLUDE FOG IN GRIDS. SATURDAY...LOOK FOR FOG TO AGAIN START THE DAY. OTHERWISE...GUIDANCE SHOWS MOISTURE ASSOCD WITH PASSING FRONT IS THIN AND UNIMPRESSIVE. TAE GFS MODEL SOUNDING WITH 1.32 PWAT 18Z SAT BUT DEPTH OF MOISTURE ONLY TO H8-H9. THIS ALSO REFLECTED IN QPF GUIDANCE..I.E. HPC QPF ONLY ABOUT 0.1-0.2 OF AN INCH TOTAL. SO ONLY EXPECT WIDELY SCATTERED TO AT BEST LOW SCATTERED POPS. SEVERE WX GUIDANCE SHOWS THAT ACROSS SRN TAIL OF FRONT...THERE WILL BE VERY LITTLE DEEP MOISTURE...LARGE SCALE LIFT OR DEEP LYR SHEAR ASSOCIATED WITH THE FRONT. HOWEVER... WITH PROXIMITY OF SHORT WAVE TROUGH...H5 TEMPS AROUND -11C AND WARM DEW POINTS IN THE 60S...ANY STORMS THAT DEVELOP (IRREGARDLESS ONLY SMALL AERIAL COVERAGE) COULD PULSE UP AND MAY BE BRIEFLY STRONG TO POSSIBLY SEVERE WITH HAIL BEST BET BUT CANNOT DISCOUNT DAMAGING DOWNDRAFTS...ESPECIALLY IN AFTN OVER GA/BIG BEND AIDED BY DIURNAL HEATING. THIS REFLECTED IN LATEST LOCAL CONFIDENCE TOOL WHICH NOW SHOW 6% CHANCE OF SEVERE WX ACROSS MOST OF CWA 18Z SAT-00Z SUN. SATURDAY NIGHT...WITH FROPA DRIER AND COOLER AIR BEGINS TO FILTER IN FROM NW-SE. EXPECT LOWS LOWS 50S SE ALA TO AROUND 60 SE BIG BEND. SUNDAY...HIGHS 80 SE ALA TO 85 SOUTHEAST BIG BEND. LOWS IN MID 50S. MONDAY...HIGHS IN MID 80S. .LONG TERM (MONDAY NIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY)...HIGH PRESSURE WILL BE THE MAIN FEATURE FOR THE EXTENDED PERIOD. A SURFACE HIGH WILL BUILD IN OVER THE NORTHWEST ATLANTIC NOSING SOUTHWESTWARD INTO THE EASTERN GULF. THIS WILL KEEP US UNDER AN EASTERLY TO SOUTHEASTERLY FLOW REGIME FOR MUCH OF THE PERIOD WITH LOW LEVEL MOISTURE SURGING INLAND. POTENT MID LEVEL RIDGING WILL MOVE INTO THE GULF PLACING US BENEATH LARGE SCALE SUBSIDENCE THROUGH THE LONG TERM. AS SUCH...POPS WILL REMAIN IN THE SILENT 10 RANGE OR BELOW TO ACCOUNT FOR THE OUTSIDE CHANCE OF AN AFTERNOON SHOWER OR POSSIBLE SEABREEZE CONVECTION. WHILE SOME MID-LEVEL MOISTURE MAY ROUND THE NORTHERN PERIPHERY OF THE RIDGE...SUBSTANTIAL CLOUD COVER SHOULD REMAIN LIMITED TO NORTHERN PORTIONS OF OUR CWA WITH SCATTERED CLOUDINESS EACH AFTERNOON. THE ABSENCE OF CLOUDS IN THE PRESENCE OF HIGH PRESSURE WILL ALLOW US TO SEE HIGHS IN THE 90S FOR A FEW DAYS TOWARD THE END OF THE PERIOD. LOWS WILL START OUT BELOW CLIMO IN THE MID 50S MONDAY MORNING. WINDS WILL QUICKLY SHIFT TO THE EAST HOWEVER...AND BY TUESDAY NIGHT...TEMPS WILL BOTTOM OUT IN THE MID 60S. WITH PREVAILING EASTERLY WINDS AT THE SURFACE...MARINE AREA WILL LIKELY EXPERIENCE NIGHTLY EASTERLY SURGES WITH INCREASED WINDS AND SEAS EACH NIGHT THROUGH THE END OF NEXT WEEK. OVERALL...EXPECT A SUMMER PATTERN TO MOVE IN BY TUESDAY WITH DOMINANT HIGH PRESSURE AND HIGHS REACHING THE 90S BY MID WEEK WITH PLENTY OF SUNSHINE.
An excerpt from Popular Mechanics on oil..
As soon as oil hits water, the ocean begins its deconstruction. In fact, the marine environment handles oil much like a human body handles alcohol: destroying, metabolizing and depositing the excessive compounds —in oil’s case, hydrocarbons—then transforming the compounds into safer substances, says Stanislav Patin, chairman of the Aquatic Toxicology Committee under the Russian Academy of Sciences and international expert on marine pollution.
The El Nino phenomenon that kept the 2009 Hurricane Season so quiet, has begun to weaken. So what does that mean for this year?
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer
WASHINGTON – The weather-altering El Nino condition in the Pacific Ocean seems to be easing and could be over by June, government climate experts reported Thursday.
If conditions do revert to neutral, it could complicate forecasting this summer’s hurricanes, since El Nino years tend to have fewer storms than normal in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
Last month, forecasters Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray of Colorado State University said they foresee above-average storm activity for the Atlantic hurricane season due to a warming of tropical Atlantic “and a more confident view that the current El Nino will weaken.”
So-called La Nina years, when the Pacific is colder than usual, can lead to an increase in Atlantic hurricanes, but neutral conditions between the two make the storm season harder to predict.
The government’s hurricane forecast for this summer is due out later this month.
El Nino is often noted as warmer than normal water in the tropical Pacific, and when that occurs there are generally warmer than normal winter temperatures in the North Central States and cooler than normal readings in the Southeast and the Southwest.
This year, things were complicated by high pressure over Greenland that pushed cold, wet weather south leading to blizzards along the East Coast.
In its regular update of El Nino/La Nina conditions, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction said warm conditions in the Pacific continue, but have weakened since the end of February.
Most computer models predict neutral conditions through the end of the year, but a few suggest the possibility of a La Nina developing, according to the Centers, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Magnitude 3.2 North of Gadsden Alabama
Thursday, May 06, 2010 at 14:04:55 UTC
Date-Time Thursday, May 06, 2010 at 14:04:55 (UTC)
Thursday, May 06, 2010 at 09:04:55 AM local time at epicenter
Location 34.18N 86.00W
Depth 5.0 kilometers
Distances 20 km (10 miles) N of Gadsden, Alabama
40 km (25 miles) SW of Fort Payne, Alabama
55 km (35 miles) S of Scottsboro, Alabama
205 km (125 miles) N of MONTGOMERY, Alabama
Location Uncertainty Error estimate: horizontal +/- 14.4 km; depth fixed by location program
Parameters Nst=7, Nph=7, Dmin=115.6 km, Rmss=1.71 sec, Erho=14.4 km, Erzz=0 km, Gp=107.2 degrees
Source USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Remarks Felt at Lookout Mountain.
Event ID us2010vya8
Three British scientists shocked the world when they revealed on May
16th, 1985 – 25 years ago – that aerosol chemicals, among other factors,
had torn a hole in the ozone layer over the South Pole. The ozone layer,
which protects life on Earth from damaging solar radiation, became an
overnight sensation. And the hole in the ozone layer became the
poster-child for mankind’s impact on the planet.
Today, the ozone hole – actually a region of thinned ozone, not actually
a pure hole – doesn’t make headlines like it used to. The size of the hole
has stabilized, thanks to decades of aerosol-banning legislation. But,
scientists warn, some danger still remains.
First, the good news: Since the 1989 Montreal Protocol banned the use of
ozone-depleting chemicals worldwide, the ozone hole has stopped growing.
Additionally, the ozone layer is blocking more cancer-causing radiation
than any time in a decade because its average thickness has increased,
according to a 2006 United Nations report. Atmospheric levels of
ozone-depleting chemicals have reached their lowest levels since peaking
in the 1990s, and the hole has begun to shrink.
Now the bad news: The ozone layer has also thinned over the North Pole.
This thinning is predicted to continue for the next 15 years due to
weather-related phenomena that scientists still cannot fully explain,
according to the same UN report . And, repairing the ozone hole over the
South Pole will take longer than previously expected, and won’t finish
until between 2060 and 2075. Scientists now understand that the size of
the ozone hole varies dramatically from year to year, which complicates
attempts to accurately predict the hole’s future size.
Interestingly, recent studies have shown that the size of the ozone hole
affects the global temperature. Closing the ozone hole actually speeds up
the melting of the polar ice caps, according to a 2009 study from
Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.
So even though environmentally friendly laws have successfully reversed
the trend of ozone depletion, the lingering effects of aerosol use, and
the link between the ozone hole and global warming, virtually ensure
that this problem will persist until the end of the century.
A Boom is a floating barrier made up of tubular links to contain, deflect or hold back oil floating on the water’s surface. Such barriers, depending on the challenge, can be deployed wherever needed—far offshore, near the shore or anywhere in between.
By containing, a boom corrals oil until it can be removed without substantial damage to the environment. In some cases, it may be advantageous to pull the encircled oil to a different location.
By deflecting, a boom redirects the path of floating oil toward a more desirable area for recovery or disposal. (Disposal can be accomplished by transporting the oil to shore, by controlled burns or by using dispersant to break up and sink the oil.)
By holding back, a boom intercepts the movement of floating oil to keep it away from environmentally sensitive areas such as coastal wetlands and beaches.
The boom system can work because most types of oil float on water, thanks to oil’s lower specific gravity and tendency to stick together. A curtain is attached to the barrier’s underside to prevent the oil from sliding underneath and spreading further. Of course, rough waters can be an obstacle by washing oil over the top of the boom.
Hundreds of thousands of feet of boom are currently being used offshore in the Gulf.
Onshore activity is focused on six locations in the potentially affected states: Port Sulphur and Venice, La.; Pascagoula and Biloxi, Miss.; Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla. These staging posts are stocked with people and material, including boom, to protect the shoreline in each area. Each of the states has oil spill response plans in place with trained community groups and volunteers available to aid the response.
Products called dispersants are a common product used to clean and control oil spills in the ocean. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of fluid dispersant are being deployed to break down the oil in the Gulf of Mexico slick. But what are in dispersants and how do they work?
One proven way to efficiently remove oil spilled onto the water’s surface is to isolate it in very small droplets which allow degradation of the hydrocarbons. Oil floats in a separate layer on the sea surface in an oil slick. Dispersants enable the oil slick to break into very finely dispersed oil droplets.
Dispersants are special fluids that use the energy of the waves to agitate the oil-water mix and allow the oil to be dispersed. They are sprayed onto the ocean surface from aircraft that fly over oil spills and dispense the product from cargo holds.
During flight, the planes can cover large swaths of area with the dispersant. Called sorties, these flights empty their load of dispersant and return to the staging area onshore to refill the cargo holds and fly out to release again.
Weather conditions have a major impact on how many sorties can be made and how effectively the dispersant spray is targeted.
Now, think about the shape of a snake. The head of the snake loves water, its tail loves oil. Dispersant is made up of these snake-like molecules designed specifically to isolate the oil droplet from the surrounding water.
As these molecules begin to cover an oil spill, the head of the molecule, or head of the snake, immediately begins to face into water – that part of the molecule is only attracted to water. Its tail is designed to only seek out the oil.
In this way, a droplet of oil is wrapped in the dispersant with the head facing out to the water it seeks and the tail faces into the oil it has captured. The oil slick is broken up in to a sea of fine droplets. It is now in a state where it becomes a feast for the naturally-occurring microbes that inhabit the ocean.
Waves help the dispersant once it has been released onto the oil spill. Wind is the cause of waves- higher wind speeds create higher waves as it pushes on the water. Waves help the dispersant by agitating the oil with the snake-like molecules, allowing oil droplets to be formed.
Winds, however, do generate surface ocean currents- the point where the wind interfaces with the water surface. The wind-generated surface current is what moves the surface of the water along with anything on top of it. As a result, wind at the water surface moves the dispersant before, during and after it lands on the oil spill. If wind speeds are very high, the planes can’t dispense the dispersant with accuracy.
Warmer water is also useful to the dispersant. In the spring and summer months of April through August, the Gulf of Mexico approaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit (20 Celsius) – which is relatively warm water compared to, say, the North Sea or Alaska’s offshore area.
A “relief well” is one option that may be used to regain control of a leaking well such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico. This potential remedy is among several promising tactics being applied in this difficult case, and it is the best long-term solution for regaining control of a well.
A relief well is drilled to intersect the original well beneath the sea floor so that a heavy, specialized liquid (and perhaps water and cement) can be pumped into the well stopping the flow of hydrocarbons to the damaged well . Hydrostatic pressure of the denser, injected liquid can “outweigh” and subdue the wayward well.
Stemming the flow in the original well is accomplished by blocking the oil’s escape within the reservoir or inside the wellbore extending upward. This is the principle behind the action now underway in the Gulf. The objective is to intersect the wellbore at about 18,000 feet below the surface — through 5,000 feet of water and 13,000 feet of rock.
This well — along with a second, backup scheduled to be started by mid-May — is expected to take as much as three months to drill and complete. In the meantime, BP is pursuing temporary solutions including a subsea containment system that would capture leaking oil and send it to a tanker ship.
Drilling a relief well presents many technical challenges. Engineers must ensure that the flowing well is intersected at just the right point beneath the seabed and that fluid pumping operations are precisely correct.
The geology around this particular well is thoroughly mapped. Knowing this highly detailed information about the nature of the reservoir will help the relief well team penetrate the target.
BP has assembled a world-class team of experts from within the company and key specialists in the industry to ensure that relief well operations are conducted as safely and efficiently as possible.
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL 1005 PM EDT WED MAY 5 2010 .DISCUSSION...THE STUBBORN AND VERY SLOW MOVING COLD FRONT ALLOWED THE MORNING FOG AND AFTERNOON CLOUD DECK TO HANG AROUND FOR QUITE SOME TIME TODAY (ESPECIALLY ACROSS EASTERN PORTIONS OF THE CWA)...SO THE MORNING UPDATE WHICH LOWERED TODAY`S MAX TEMPS A BIT WORKED OUT VERY WELL. ONCE THESE CLOUDS FINALLY DISSIPATED TO THE EAST IN THE LATE AFTERNOON...A FEW SHOWERS AND STORMS FORMED ALONG THE BOUNDARY OVER THE SOUTHEASTERN FL BIG BEND...AND THE SEA BREEZE FRONT EVEN PUSHED THROUGH TALLAHASSEE BETWEEN 8 AND 9 PM EDT...RAISING THE DEWPOINT AT TLH BACK UP TO 72. ALTHOUGH THERE IS PLENTY OF DRY AIR MOVING IN ALOFT...THE AMPLE LOW LEVEL MOISTURE RAISES PLENTY OF CONCERN FOR FOG AND/OR LOW CLOUD REDEVELOPMENT ESPECIALLY OVER THE COASTAL WATERS AND INLAND ALONG AND TO THE EAST OF A LINE FROM PFN...TO TLH...THEN TO ABY. BOTH OUR LOCAL 4 KM WRF RUN AND LATEST CONFIDENCE GRIDS SHOW THE GREATEST LOW LEVEL MOISTURE POOLING OVER THE COASTAL WATERS...GULF AND FRANKLIN COUNTIES...AND THE EASTERN BIG BEND...BUT THE WRF IS MORE PESSIMISTIC OVER OUR EASTERN GA ZONES. IT ALSO WILL BE A TOUGH CALL ON FOG VS. A STRATUS DECK... BUT 800 TO 1000FT CIGS ARE ALREADY FORMING AT AAF AND PFN..SO WE MAY VERY WELL SEE THE LOW CIGS CONTINUE TO DEVELOP...PROPAGATE INLAND...THEN LOWER TO POTENTIALLY DENSE FOG...WHICH COULD ONCE AGAIN BE STUBBORN TO BURN OFF TOMORROW. FOR NOW...WILL INCREASE CLOUD COVER AND ADD AREAS OF FOG IN THE GULF...AND THE MID SHIFT MAY NEED A DENSE FOG ADVISORY FOR PARTS OF THE AREA BEFORE ALL IS SAID AND DONE. OTHERWISE CURRENT FCST IS ON TRACK. && .AVIATION...ANOTHER ROUND OF LOW CLOUDS AND FOG IS EXPECTED OVERNIGHT. WILL SHOW FOG/STRATUS AFFECTING VLD BY 04Z...ABY AND TLH BY 07Z AND CONTINUING TO SPREAD WEST IMPACTING DHN/PFN BY 09Z WITH LIFR CONDITIONS AT TLH AND VLD AND GENERALLY DOWN TO MVFR ELSEWHERE. SHOULD SEE A QUICKER END TO ANY RESTRICTIONS ON THURSDAY WITH VFR CONDITIONS RETURNING BY 16Z. WINDS WILL BE WEST TO SOUTHWEST UNDER 10 KTS.
Hair salons across the country are saving their hair clippings! Why? Hair is a naturally great oil absorber! We think of it on a small scale, oil from your scalp making your hair oily. Now salons are saving their trimmings and sending them to create “natural booms” to help in efforts with the massive gulf coast oil spill cleanup. Salons from Florida, to as far as Fort Collins, Colorado are lending a helping hand.
EVENING TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION TABLE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL 823 PM EDT TUE MAY 4 2010 ALL REPORTS AS OF 7PM EST / 8PM EDT THIS EVENING TEMPERATURES: HIGH TODAY...FINAL LOW THIS MORNING PRECIPITATION: 12 HR...TODAY (12Z - 00Z) 24 HR...SINCE YESTERDAY EVENING (00Z - 00Z) ASOS REPORTS HIGH LOW 12HR 24HR PCPN PCPN ALBANY :ABY 82 68 0.79 2.56 APALACHICOLA :AAF 78 73 2.52 2.52 CROSS CITY :CTY 85 72 0.99 0.99 DOTHAN :DHN 84 68 0.06 0.41 MARIANNA :MAI 82 71 0.23 3.14 PANAMA CITY :PFN 84 72 0.85 2.07 PERRY :40J 83 71 1.15 1.15 TALLAHASSEE :TLH 80 71 1.18 1.18 VALDOSTA :VLD 82 66 1.88 1.88
ASUS62 KTAE 041428 RTPTAE MORNING TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION TABLE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL 1028 AM EDT TUE MAY 4 2010 ALL REPORTS AS OF 7AM EST / 8AM EDT THIS MORNING TEMPERATURES: HIGH YESTERDAY...LOW THIS MORNING PRECIPITATION: 12 HR...OVERNIGHT (00Z - 12Z) 24 HR...SINCE YESTERDAY MORNING (12Z - 12Z) ASOS REPORTS HIGH LOW 12HR 24HR PCPN PCPN ALBANY :ABY 88 69 1.66 2.05 APALACHICOLA :AAF 82 73 T 0.03 CROSS CITY :CTY 85 72 0.00 0.00 DOTHAN :DHN 80 69 0.35 2.99 MARIANNA :MAI 86 72 2.31 3.17 PERRY :40J 84 74 0.00 0.00 PANAMA CITY :PFN 80 72 1.22 1.22 TALLAHASSEE :TLH 88 74 0.00 0.00 VALDOSTA :VLD 85 75 0.00 0.00 24 HOUR COOPERATIVE STATION REPORTS HIGH LOW 24HR PCPN ALBANY 3 SE :ABYG1 87 70 2.35 ASHBURN :ASHG1 84 70 3.95 BAINBRIDGE :BAIG1 88 70 4.45 BRISTOL :BRLF1 88 68 0.10 CAIRO :CAIG1 83 74 0.80 CHIPLEY :CHPF1 88 71 6.90 CRISP CNTY PWR DAM :WWCG1 84 68 3.15 CROSS CITY 1 E :CRSF1 85 72 0.00 CUTHBERT :CBTG1 78 65 4.21 DONALSONVILLE :DNVG1 89 73 5.61 DOWLING PARK :DOWF1 0.00 EDISON :EDIG1 80 68 3.80 ENTERPRISE :ENTA1 78 68 3.60 FORT GAINES :FTGG1 79 68 3.87 GEORGETOWN :GEOG1 78 71 4.67 LEESBURG :LEEG1 83 67 3.41 MADISON :MDSF1 85 74 0.00 MARIANNA :MARF1 84 71 4.00 MAYO :MAYF1 85 73 0.00 MONTICELLO 10 SW :MTCF1 81 72 0.00 MOULTRIE 2 N :MOUG1 85 73 0.41 NASHVILLE :NHSG1 84 71 0.02 NEW HOPE :NEHF1 79 69 2.80 OCILLA :OCIG1 87 72 1.00 QUINCY :QCYF1 87 71 0.88 STEINHATCHEE :SHMF1 80 73 0.00 TALLAHASSEE AIRPORT :TASF1 88 73 T VALDOSTA 2 S :VALG1 84 73 0.00