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Old 06-26-2010, 11:20 AM
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The first tropical storm of the season, Alex, is forecast to move to the west of the release by current estimates. There are lots of questions and unknowns about how things might play out with regard to the spill. The cyclone pulls winds into itself, likely creating NE to E to SE winds to the east of the storm as it moves north. There are waves and currents further complicating things. A big concern is with wind on top of the storm surge driving the spill further into estuaries. Also, I wonder at what points they may be forced to suspend recovery operations and perhaps even drilling of the intercept wells? Not that there is much that we can do about it at this point, but I also wonder about the impact on the submerged plume in the upper part of the water column. Hurricanes have created tremendous forces moving, righting, even breaking up wrecks in the past. This stuff is largely out of sight but its effects may be more observable in time.



"Tropical storm plus oil slick equals more fear and uncertainty
By the CNN Wire Staff - June 26, 2010 8:30 a.m. EDT

Tropical Storm Alex -- the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season -- formed in the Caribbean on Saturday. Alex had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and was about 250 miles away from Chetumal, Mexico. It was moving toward Belize and over the Yucatan Peninsula.

"The greatest nightmare with this storm approaching is that it takes this oil on the surface of the Gulf and blows it over the barrier islands into the bays and the estuaries," Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, told CNN. "And that is where you really get the enormous destruction, because it's just very difficult to clean up those pristine bays."

Alex is heading is west-northwest direction and was not predicted to directly pass over the massive oil slick caused by the ruptured BP undersea well, though its path could change.
A tropical storm in the Gulf has the potential to disrupt BP efforts to collect gushing oil and drill relief wells. It would also complicate efforts to clean up miles of coastline. High winds and seas could distribute the oil -- still gushing from a blown deepwater well -- over a wider area while storm surges could wash more oil ashore, according to a fact sheet prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

Lots more information in this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/06/26/gul...ex.html?hpt=T1




The current five day projected path. Joy, I see they've now predicted it will become a hurricane before landfall on or about Wednesday morning. There are lots of unknowns and variables though. It has yet to cross over land, much less pass beyond it into the Gulf. Changes may well occur as time wears on.

NHC information on TS Alex at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/grap...daynl#contents


This is what the Deep Horizon Response page has to say about it.

"Hurricanes and the Oil Spill
What will the hurricane do to the oil slick in the Gulf?
• The high winds and seas will mix and “weather” the oil which can help accelerate the biodegradation process.• Movement of oil would depend greatly on the track of the hurricane.
• Storms’ surges may carry oil into the coastline and inland as far as the surge reaches. Debris resulting from the hurricane may be contaminated by oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident, but also from other oil releases that may occur during the storm.
What will the hurricane do to the oil slick in the Gulf?
• The high winds and seas will mix and “weather” the oil which can help accelerate the biodegradation process.
• The high winds may distribute oil over a wider area, but it is difficult to model exactly where the oil may be transported.
• Movement of oil would depend greatly on the track of the hurricane.
• Storms’ surges may carry oil into the coastline and inland as far as the surge reaches. Debris resulting from the hurricane may be contaminated by oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident, but also from other oil releases that may occur during the storm."
Continued at: http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse....c/2931/572167/


A plan view of a hurricane wind field. The wind flows towards the dot at the base of the wind speed/direction indicators.
http://www.jason.org/digital_library/169.aspx



A 3-D representation of wind vectors in a hurricane
http://www.ems.psu.edu/~nese/images.htm



Wind and storm surge characteristics relative to the storm center and direction of travel. Per this diagram, the transport of oil inland would be worse to the east of the eye within a limited distance via the leading edge winds and storm surge. Winds are offshore with limited storm surge in general terms to the west of the eye.
http://www.hurricanetrack.com/ncstormsurge/srginf.html



Diagram of right front quadrant winds, storm surge with an oblique impact relative to the shoreline.


AND for something out of left field ...

"Worry Underwater: Oxygen Levels Drop as Oil Continues to Flow
Marine Animals Crowd Shallow Gulf Waters as Worries Over Oxygen Levels Grow

By MATT GUTMAN and SADIE BASS June 23, 2010

Evidence of marine biologists' doomsday scenario thrashes in the Gulf waters as sharks crowd into shallow waters. Undersea accident forces BP to remove cap as oil washes up on Pensacola beaches. Marine biologists say the sea animals flee the spill zone the way others would flee a forest fire. With thousands of gallons of oil contaminating their natural habitats, marine creatures press into oil-free waters.

"Their habitat is shrinking, tens of thousands of square miles are affected, and animals moving away from them," said Mobi Salangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. "There are changes in food, the food they eat and their prey."

Plumes of dense oil in shallow waters, up to 50 feet below the surface, have sucked up oxygen. Tests by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab usually show oxygen levels in the shallow waters at nearly eight parts per million. They're now down to two parts per million -- four times lower than normal."

Article and video at: http://abcnews.go.com/WN/bp-oil-spil...ry?id=10991637
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Last edited by RickI; 06-26-2010 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 08-09-2010, 09:25 AM
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The blowout seems to have been sealed after over 100 days. Between the cap, drilling mud on top and grout pumped into the shaft from the bottom, hopefully this release has ended once and for all.

"Plug in Gulf Well Is Declared a Success
By THE NEW YORK TIMES Published: August 8, 2010

BP said Sunday on its Web site that a cement plug had been successfully put in place after a procedure to seal the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico. The cement plug was poured into the well last Thursday, after tons of mud had been dumped into the well in a operation called a static kill.

“We were able to statically kill the well from the top by putting cement down the pipe casing, and we pressure tested that the last two days,” Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who leads the federal spill response, said Sunday on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “So that’s holding.” The next step, Admiral Allen said, will be a relief well. Once it is completed and successfully intercepting the volatile well, the sealing efforts could be declared a full success, BP executives and Admiral Allen have said.."
Continued at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/09/us...of_mexico_2010

So, what about all the released oil, both on the surface, within the water column, on the bottom, millions of gallons of dispersant discharged and the current and long term impacts? First an overview:


"Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (2010)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images Updated: Aug. 6, 2010

An explosion on April 20 aboard the Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig working on a well for the oil company BP one mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, led to the largest accidental oil spill in history. After a series of failed efforts to plug the leak, BP said on July 15 that it had capped the well, at least temporarily, marking the first time in 86 days that oil was not gushing into the gulf.

The slick appeared to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected. The immense patches of surface oil that covered thousands of square miles of the gulf after the April 20 explosion are largely gone, though sightings of tar balls and emulsified oil continued here and there. Radar images suggest that the few remaining patches are quickly breaking down in the warm surface waters of the gulf. Officials in charge of the response say they are beginning to shift their efforts to a new phase, focusing more on long-term recovery now that some of the urgent demands of the spill are diminishing."

"Prospects for Recovery

The effect on sea life of the large amounts of oil that dissolved below the surface is still a mystery. Two preliminary government reports on that issue have found concentrations of toxic compounds in the deep sea to be low, but the reports left many questions, especially regarding an apparent decline in oxygen levels in the water.

And understanding the effects of the spill on the shorelines that were hit, including Louisiana’s coastal marshes, is expected to occupy scientists for years. Fishermen along the coast are deeply skeptical of any declarations of success, expressing concern about the long-term effects of the chemical dispersants used to combat the spill and of the submerged oil, particularly on shrimp and crab larvae that are the foundation of future fishing seasons.

Scientists said the rapid dissipation of the surface oil was probably due to a combination of factors, including the gulf’s immense natural capacity to break down oil. Then there was the response mounted by BP and the government, the largest in history, involving more than 4,000 boats attacking the oil with skimming equipment, controlled surface burns and other tactics.

It was also becoming clear that the Obama administration, in conjunction with BP, will soon have to make decisions about how quickly to begin scaling down the large-scale — and expensive — response effort. That is a touchy issue, and not just for environmental reasons.

States have been pushing the federal authorities to move quickly to reopen gulf waters to commercial fishing; through most of the spill, about a third of the United States part of the gulf has been closed. The Food and Drug Administration is trying to speed its testing, while promising continued diligence to be sure no tainted seafood gets to market.

Even if the seafood of the gulf is deemed safe by the authorities, resistance to buying it may linger among the public, an uncertainty that defies measurement and is on the minds of residents along the entire Gulf Coast"
Continued at:
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/refere...010/index.html


As bad as the surface impacts have been, they could have been a lot worse over a far greater area. Still, it isn't over, where to from here.
http://www.phongpo.com/


There is a growing mass of information on the Wikipedia site at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwat...izon_oil_spill


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Last edited by RickI; 08-09-2010 at 09:41 AM.
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