Storm theatens Gulf of Mexico oil spill clean-up

Jun 26, 2010
An aerial view of the Chandeleur islands, on June 23, in the Gulf of Mexico, along the coast of Louisiana. Oil recovery efforts in the Gulf of Mexico could face the season's first tropical storm Saturday, with bad weather spreading a huge oil slick that has already closed beaches in Florida.

Potentially dangerous Tropical Storm Alex, which experts say could complicate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill clean-up, has formed in the Caribbean Sea, US forecasters said on Saturday.

At 1200 GMT, the eye of the season's first was located about 200 miles (320 kilometers) east of Belize City, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). It was packing maximum sustained winds of 40 miles (65 km) an hour.

After dropping rain on the Central American nations, the storm was expected to turn toward the as it moved around eight miles (13 km) per hour.

On the forecast track, Alex was forecast to approach the coast of Belize and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula late Saturday or early Sunday.

"Some erratic motion is possible ... as the circulation of Alex consolidates," the Miami-based NHC said in a bulletin.

The storm is forecast to dump heavy rain over the Yucatan peninsula through Sunday, with rain accumulations of four to eight inches (10-25 centimeters), though isolated amounts of up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) are possible.

"These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the NHC said.

A tropical storm warning was in effect on the east coast of Belize, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and on the coastal islands in Honduras.

"A gradual turn toward the northeast and an increase in forward speed are expected in the next 48 hours," the center said.

The NHC's five-day forecast has the storm heading over the Gulf of Mexico in the direction of the US-Mexico border, but with a possibility of deviating along a broad area that includes the site of the huge slick unleashed by the April 20 explosion of the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig.

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Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2010
WEll, I've been monitoring this storm for like 10 days now ever since it was a wave that came off africa.

Even though it is only a tropical storm and the center is now moving over land, I doubt it will weaken much.

As much as 1/3 of it's circulation has been over land ever since it entered the caribbean because it's so gigantic. It is currently actually building new feeder bands from as far east as the extreme south-eastern caribbean, and even into the pacific. So it's not like your little "charley" size storm that hits land and dies. It's as big as an upper level low, and it may actually even strengthen while the center is over land, because the total amount of circulation over water has changed very little in the past week.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2010
I'm going to make an educated, experiential guess about where Alex is going over the next 24 to 36 hours.

In spite of it's history of moving almost due west indefinitely, I believe it will turn true north-north-west (which it never was above 20degrees north ever before,) and then north-west soon. This goes against the models and against the NHC.

The reason I am doing this is two fold:

1) There is a moderate to strong front over north central Mexico and possibly Texas with a low pressure associated with a trough and Darby to the south west.

2) The new feeder band already forming in the bay of S.GOMEX has now, or will shortly, become the dominant inflow. This will tend to pull the surface low northwards.

3) The low continues to deepen anyway, and is down to 995mb. This means it will have a stronger natural "pole seeking" tendency than it has had previously.

4) The feeder band south of CA is about to jump the hills there, transferring northward momentum to the system.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2010
New surface pressure guidance is out, and the ridge is breaking down, while a low pressure/front moves in from the west over Mexico and Texas. This should produced a pronounced WNW then NW then northward turn over the next 12-36 hours.

Based on infrared and Dvorak graphics, the storm shows little or no sign of weakening at this time.
Shootist
1 / 5 (3) Jun 27, 2010
Back in the day (1900-1950s), Hurricanes were welcomed for breaking up oil slicks.

The environmental tragedy is in your minds, not at the beach. It's made up of your fears, misunderstandings, inability to read history, general mistrust of technology and a willfully evil press.

5 years after the oil stops its mad rush you won't be able to tell there was an oil spill.