June 28, 2010

Oilicane II

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 5:01 am

Author’s note: Sorry about the bad URL on that last post. I have been having several problems with my Orlando Examiner page and I am going to be writing on my Madison, WI page from now on.

The problem hit the breaking point for me with that last article, because Mike Malloy read that article on his show on Friday, but when people went to read it, the link suddenly was dead.

Keep in mind that the Examiner is a subsidiary of the Clarity Digital Media Group, which is owned by Philip Anschutz, who made his fortune in…hold your breath…the oil and gas industry! Go figure, huh? Yeah, he’s trying to build the Fox News of internet news (according to Media Matters) and apparently some of my articles do not fit the mold. Believe it or not, Clarity Digitial Media Group bought the Weekly Standard, so technically I am on the same payroll as that neo-con sonofabitch William Kristol!

I have had several instances in the past month where articles that are strict news reports were classified in a flash presentation under politics, then simply buried. Needless to say, I had a few issues with my editor and decided that my articles would fit in better with a more progressive community like Madison, where I have a permanent residence, than in dumbass Orlando where editors would rather have Disneyland and theme parks promoted than real news. So, from now on I am back to writing in cheeseland… If anyone wants to hire a free-lance writer, let me know…at least until I can get my own web site going. The only true journalism in this country is independent.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt from the article again, updated:

Tropical storm Alex, the first named storm of the season, crossed the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico this weekend and is expected to gather intensity after it enters the Gulf of Mexico today.

Alex is currently packing sustained winds of 35 mph, but those are expected to increase to 60 mph once it reaches the Gulf and the storm could become a hurricane with up to 85 mph winds after feeding on the warm waters of the Gulf. It is expected to make landfall in Mexico, well-away from the BP disaster site.

When Alex became the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, officials immediately worried what effect it could have on efforts to contain the millions of gallons of crude spewing into the Gulf. 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 Bloomberg, the mere possibility of a named storm entering the Gulf had Wall Street betting on a worst-case senario. On Friday, crude oil prices rose the most in four weeks on concern the first tropical storm of the hurricane season may head into the Gulf, disrupting both clean up efforts and oil production.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (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.

Joe Bastardi, a hurricane expert at, narrowed the range to 18-21 named storms.

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? Oilicane! And a new experience that makes the tar sheets washing up on beaches benign by comparison.

Last month, senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski speculated on what a hurricane mixed with oil would be like:

Depending on the approach of a tropical storm or hurricane, increasing winds and building, massive seas would first halt containment operations. Rough seas would dislodge or destroy protective booms, rendering them useless as the storm draws closer.

Next, as the storm rolls through, high winds on the right flank of a hurricane making landfall would cause some oil to become airborne in blowing spray. A storm surge could carry contaminants inland beyond bays, marshes and beaches to well developed locations. Even a glancing blow from a hurricane passing to the west of the oil slick could be enough for winds and wave action to drive the goo nearby onshore, or to more distant fishing and recreation areas, perhaps in foreign waters.

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.

That timetable would “conservatively” unleash another half-million barrels of oil back in the sea – twice the Exxon Valdez spill. Using upper-end federal estimates of the leak, 840,000 barrels, or about 35 million gallons of oil would gush out unimpeded.

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen described the cut-and-run plan in a conference call to reporters Friday morning in which he said, “Realistically, out of an abundance of caution,” the Deepwater Horizon well would remain uncapped for 14 days.

And that is a best case scenario in a moderate storm.

Read more, get links and video here: Madison Independent Examiner – As tropical storm Alex nears Gulf, potential effects of hurricane are discussed

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