we are a few weeks into hurricane season now, and the NHC has given pretty daunting predictions for this
The conditions expected this year have historically produced some very active Atlantic hurricane seasons. The 2010 hurricane season could see
activity comparable to a number of extremely active seasons since 1995. If the 2010 activity reaches the upper end of our predicted ranges, it will be
one of the most active seasons on record.
We estimate a 70% probability for each of the following ranges of activity this season:
14-23 Named Storms,
3-7 Major Hurricanes
An ACE range of 155%-270% of the median.
Now add on the additional factor of a large portion of the Gulf covered in an oil slick/sheen and things get a little interesting.
I am not trying to argue the acid/oil rain issue. While the scenarios for such is possble, i am trying to shed a light on another disaster waiting to
happen. One that is not only possible, but is likely, and is something that the effected areas will DEFINATELY
not be ready for, as well
as something that we have never had to model for in our history. Ever.
Hurricanes thrive on the latent thermal energy that is stored in the ocean water surface. The warmer the water temperatures, the greater potential for
magor hurricane development.(while this is not the only factor, it is the most important, and has the most to do with the following discussion). Water
has a much higher specific heat than land mass, approximately 4 and some change times so, and allows for a large amount of energy to be stored. That
is that it requires more energy to increase an equal volume of water one degree in temperature than it does land, and that energy is stored.
Interestingly enough, water has about 2 times the specific heat of fuel oil. What does this mean? well it means that the suns energy will increase the
temperaure of the oil that is floating in the Gulf at about twice the rate of the surrounding water. This will help to increase sea surface
temperatures in the surrounding water through conduction, and it will also cause a large area of greater sea surface temperatures because of the
nature of the oil itself, which could potentially result in intensification of any disturbance/storm that encounters it.
Scientists have never really had to deal with this before, and the most interesting part is this oil is laying on top of the water, it does not
completely remove the moisture source from any future storms, although it may hinder it. This could weaken any disturbance/storm that passes over.
Scientists cannot say with any certainty which will be the dominant factor. At this time the slick itelf is close enough to the shore that any passing
storm would likely spend a relatively short time over the area, thus reducing any influence. Should the slick continue to spread, the larger the area
the greater the potential influence. Worst case scenario is that the moisture is unihibited, and the increased temperatures strengthens any storms,
increasing the threat to coastal residents.
This is the greatest threat that I could see when combining a tropical storm and the oil slick is the storm surge. This happens when strong continuous
winds pile water on top of water to create a "mound" of water that plows into the coast, increasing water levels and flooding low lying areas.
It is not a stretch of the imagination to think of what would happen with a storm surge coated in oil that crawls inland. The water below will
recede... the oil will remain and could potentially coat stuffs much farther inland than a simple "washing up" or tidal surges.
Imagine trying to clean 20-40 miles of coastline, up to a half mile inland with oil coating EVERYTHING. Houses, cars, road ways, grass, trees... you
name it. We are all crying about how to pick up the tar balls and save the fish/birds, try to get oil out of soil, and housing materials. It could
render enormous amounts of land unusable and or unsafe.
I would like to ask you to comment and or ponder this potential disaster waiting to happen. If our government cannot even act to stop this leak, how
are we to expect them to protect us from a literal wave of oil washing much further inland than the beach?? 30 years or more of contamination, but
this time in our forests and farmlands... Enjoy.
(Edit for dumb spelling and grammar issues... its morning time...)
[edit on 24-6-2010 by wx4caster]