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Effects of the GOM Oil Spill on Hurricane Development

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posted on Jun, 13 2010 @ 07:16 PM
We've all seen the posts on threads about how hurricanes could potentially take the toxic fumes from the GOM oil spill and push them onto the mainland US. Some discuss this is already occurring with normal rain and moisture movement and would be magnified by a tropical system.

On another thread, OuttaTime gave the comment that the oil slick may cause hurricanes that go over it more power since the slick would make the air over that water warmer than normal. This is an interesting thought and I think warrents further discussion.

Not just that, but what would a hurricane that goes over the slick look like? Would it be a toxic cloud that would leave a brown line behind it or would it just take a Cat 3 hurricane and make it a Cat 5? Would such a storm be able to move further inland than these systems usually do or force a change of course.

I've got a link to a website that forecasts the movement of the oil and the ocean temperatures. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill trajectory hindcast/forecast based on RTOFS What I'd like to know is if there are any links that would show air movement over the last few months in a similar manner and then if there are any archived seasons. Especially those with hurricanes would allow us to look and see what is "normal" movement for the region and see if this slick is having a climate impact or not.

If there is another thread on this already please tell me and I will have this thread closed. I tried to search for one but didn't see one that tried to answer just this type of question, and I felt like I was hijacking another thread by making a couple posts on it and it was without a doubt off topic.
Edited to fix a quick link problem I found, sorry about that.

[edit on 6/13/2010 by Sir Solomon]

posted on Jun, 13 2010 @ 09:23 PM
It's going to be bad.
Might be a good idea to stock up of inhalors because I predict people who have never had asthma, will experience it this year.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 08:17 AM
I can't remember where I saw the pic at, but a hurricane in the gulf, that follows a relatively normal pattern of NE movement, would spread that mess all the way up through the eastern seaboard. Most of the oils would probably remain within 100 miles of the gulf coastline, but the airborne gasses will be carried incredible distances.
Even a tropical storm in the gulf would scatter oil for miles inland. It's a sad state of affairs when we think of how much interaction goes on between land and sea at the coastline.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 09:49 AM
I know it is not as detailed as I'd prefer it and I will keep looking, but it is a start. Evidently any oil on the surface of water would hinder evaporation. That mechanism is the key to development of any storm system.

Ask the Van--Illinois Department of Physics

Here the question was asked and answered pretty well. Evidently the affect of the oil spill is indeed a reduction in evaporation not an increase that some of us had though due to increased temperature. This effect is incredibly small though and likely would not be noticed in a hurricane's development.

What effect will oil spill have on evaporation re condensation?

This link basically backs all of this up, but gives some scientific articles and does a better job of saying what could happen. It is dated though since the slick is far larger than in the picture. Still an interesting read and well worth taking in.

Dr. Jeff Masters Wunder Blog--Weather Underground

So I'm now of the opinion that the slick would hinder development if anything, now a good question to ask is how easily does oil carry in water vapor? Alot of people are asking this and supposing that it will happen without a doubt in the worst manner possible. I want to find and post any scientific source I can to prove or disprove this.

My hypothesis going in is that this thought is not fully correct since oil and water do not easily interact and oil is heavier than water in vapor form. While it does evaporate and get carried, because of this increased weight, it takes a stronger storm to keep it aloft to carry it.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 09:55 AM
Just finished watching this video which explains why 2010 will be a very active hurricane season. I'm no climatologist, but it makes sense to me.


posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 10:01 PM
reply to post by darkelf

Hmm, that is very interesting. So according to this oscillation we could see a stronger series of hurricanes. Good to know how they came up with that outlook.

Found some more data to look at. It is an article from May 31. Basically it talks about how the worst part of a hurricane going over the spill would be that it pushes the oil deeper into the wetlands via its storm surge. This would kill those areas off and make areas like NOLA more vulnerable to future hurricanes.

Experts on Hurrican Season Eve...

I've been trying to find information how oil would act in storm as in how it would be carried, but it seems the research just hasn't been there before. This type of situation just hasn't happened before on this scale so no one has thought to investigate it.

My thought though is that as oil vaporizes it will stay apart from the water molecules, so you could potentially see a "black" rain fall alongside the "white" rain fall of water. This, combined with a storm surge, would put oil in places that can't easily be cleaned. If this were to happen and the rumors that this oil is quite different from "normal" oil in that it has a higher content of toxic chemicals then you could see a situation where evacuation of affected areas would be vital.

Hmm...makes me ponder for a minute if it were picked up by a hurricane if the oil could then seep down and contaminate groundwater supplies in the region.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 10:11 PM
Ive said before that depending on how vast the oil spill is, it would probably reduce evaporation, meaning that any storms formed in the gulf area, would have difficulty gaining the right conditions for a hurricane to form. However, most hurricanes are born out off the west coast of Africa, so I doubt there will be a reduction of them.

It wont affect the number of land crossing hurricanes either. Hurricanes major driving force is the ocean, and coriolis usually flicks them up to the continental US. When they cross land they die, its as simple as that. Their severity and impact over land is usually related to how strong they were over the ocean, ie. stronger storms equal longer time over land

posted on Jun, 15 2010 @ 12:27 AM
I was taking a look at the National Hurricane Center and found this. It is from NOAA and talks about a lot of the questions I've raised, but only gives brief discussion on them. Overall it seems that it downplays any effect an oil spill would have either on a hurricane or vice versa. Heck I came away with the split second thought that "hey, lets make a big ol' hurricane right on top of it to disperse the oil so all the natural microbes can eat it."

Hurricane Oil Factsheet

OzWeatherNinja, thank you for your comments. The NOAA factsheet I stated above agrees with you in many facets.

The more I look into this the more I come to the conclusion that apart from pushing the oil into the wetlands along the coast, the hurricane + oil spill equation is not as scary as it is being hyped up to be. Anyone else think that?

posted on Jun, 15 2010 @ 02:10 AM
reply to post by Sir Solomon

Totally agree

A lot of speculation is from people who have no idea about how hurricanes work, and people who are generally just doomsayers. I would be more worried about the coastline than oil falling as rain

posted on Jun, 15 2010 @ 01:18 PM
A lot of what people are afraid of is that the dissolved chemicals in the oil that evaporate faster than the oil and get mixed into the rainfall. Benzene I think is the major one. I'll look into how it dissolves in water and that may give a hint as what we may find if there is a significant presence of Benzene in the air over the slick when a hurricane passes over.

But I have to be skeptical of this due to the size of a hurricane compared to the size of the slick.

I'm thinking at this point though that we can dismiss the idea of the oil making a hurricane bigger theory. Pretty sure we can agree that overall the oil slick is being hyped up as far as the hurricane impact. Now to investigate some of the chemicals that are being released. Methane, Benzene are the ones that come to mind, any others?

Just thought of something concerning Methane. I remember hearing that it is a 4x more effective greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide. Some people have thought that maybe we've been releasing too much of it as it is and it is helping to cause global warming. If the oil spill was done on purpose (big if there) then maybe the motivation was to release large amounts of methane in order to force the earth to heat up rather than cool down that many thought it was doing.

posted on Jun, 15 2010 @ 02:54 PM
reply to post by OzWeatherman

I agree. Storm surge areas will be a toxic nightmare.

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