June 25, 2010

Meet oilcane

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 4:47 pm

Author’s note: I am sure many of you have heard about the possibility of a methane gas explosion under the ruptured well in the Gulf. That is a possibility. This is almost a certainty…

An overly active hurricane season mixed with oil in the Gulf of Mexico may make bad news even worse for residents throughout the Gulf coast, from Florida to Texas.

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center, already, a tropical disturbance over the western Caribbean Sea continues to strengthen, and has a high 80 percent chance of developing into a tropical depression later Friday or Saturday.

According to Bloomberg, chances are it is heading into the Gulf of Mexico and Wall Street seems to be betting on that. Crude oil rose the most in four weeks on concern the first tropical storm of the hurricane season may form and has a 80 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone this weekend. It may head into the Gulf, disrupting both clean up efforts and oil production.

The NOAA predicts an active hurricane season with 14 to 23 named storms. Eight to 14 of those storms are expected to become hurricanes and three to seven are likely to become major systems with winds of 111 miles (178 kilometers) per hour.

Researchers at the Colorado State University hurricane forecast team, perhaps the most accurate in the nation, predict 18 storms. The team anticipates 10 hurricanes forming in the Atlantic basin between June 1 and Nov. 30. Five are expected to develop into major hurricanes (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.

So, what does that mean for Gulf residents, besides the usual destroyed property and higher gas prices? How about a new word? Oilcane! And a new experience that makes the tar sheets washing up in Pensacola benign by comparison.

Last month, hurricane expert Joe Bascardi speculated on what a hurricane mixed with oil would be like:

During the age of sail, winds occasionally blew ships hundreds of miles off course. The wind could have the same effect on the oil slick. Now, imagine several storms during the season doing the same thing.

Art Horn, a meteorologist in Manchester, CT writing for the Energy Tribune, puts the same concept in different words:

The gulf oil spill is bad but it could become much, much worse and soon. The threat is a hurricane moving over the spill. Water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are now running as warm or warmer than they did during the record setting season of 2005. This is significant. Warmer water means more heat and humidity over the tropical ocean to fuel hurricanes.

The winds of a hurricane are so strong that the normal interface between ocean and atmosphere disappears. The winds begin to generate large waves. Spray is blown off the top of the waves. That spray mixes with the air so that after a short time there is no real boundary between what is ocean and what is the atmosphere. If a large hurricane moves over the spill, this chaotic mixture of water and air will inevitably also contain oil. The oil will become airborne and travel with the hurricane.

The…gulf coast…is prime territory for devastating and deeply penetrating storm surges. Should a major hurricane push the spill towards the gulf coast there will be nothing that can be done to stop it. No amount of planning or engineering will help. No number of visits to the gulf by the president or any other official will stop the inevitable. The storm surge will drive the water and the oil miles inland. Everything in its path will be coated in a greasy bath of crude. Even the wind may have oil in it.

In New England, I have seen hurricanes and tropical storms that have blown salt spray many miles inland from the coast. The leaves of the trees eventually turn brown and fall off. In the case of the gulf it will be oil that will spray the trees, buildings and everything else in the way. How far inland this oily mess will blow is anyone’s guess but it will be unprecedented in its economic and environmental damage. The human and natural losses from such an event could be historic.

Are you getting the picture yet? At best, even moderate gale force winds at the BP disaster site days away from the Gulf of Mexico spill site could force at-sea workers to abandon their oil collection efforts for two weeks, the head of the national response effort said Friday, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Should Gulf residents do as our fearless “leader” says and pray, or should we start contacting relatives, friends or real estate agents up north…now? I’ll leave the answer to that to you…

Read more, get links and video here: Orlando Independent Examiner – Would a hurricane in the Gulf this year be called an oilcane?

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