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Gulf Low Keeps Oil Onshore

posted on Monday, July 5th, 2010 at 8:38 pm
Satellite Imagery, Gulf Low, Image: NOAA

Satellite Imagery, Gulf Low, Image: NOAA

Earlier today, an area of low pressure off the coast of Louisiana was looking fairly impressive. What I mean by that is thunderstorm tops were showing up on visible satellite imagery, and there was a lot of thunderstorm activity starting to fire up around the center of circulation.

In fact, hurricane specialists gave it a 60% chance of development into a tropical system earlier today. It has since moved closer to shore and it will not develop.

It is, however, increasing the wind and wave action off the coast of Louisiana, and more oil is being pushed onshore.

Wave heights are at about 3-4′. The east-southeasterly winds driving oil onshore would have subsided by tomorrow if it weren’t for another tropical disturbance in the northwestern Caribbean Sea.

I’ll have another update on that system tomorrow.

-Dawn Brown

95L Does Not Like Dry Air

posted on Sunday, July 4th, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea Satellite Imagery, Image: NOAA

This is a current satellite image of the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean basin. Yesterday, we were watching an area of low pressure south of Louisiana for signs of tropical development. So far, nothing. Dry air has gotten mixed into the low, which is nice because it was actually pleasant in Southeast Louisiana today. Fireworks are popping without a hitch tonight because thunderstorm activity was limited due to dry air.

The biggest concern from the low, however, was the wind and wave action associated with a persistent southeasterly wind. Wave heights have been running about 5 – 6′. But as the low tracks west of Louisiana, heights will back down to 2 – 3′  by tomorrow.

I’m watching an area of disturbed weather in the Caribbean. I’ll have an update on that tomorrow.

-Dawn Brown

The Threat Invest 95L Poses to the Gulf Coast

posted on Saturday, July 3rd, 2010 at 4:01 pm
Invest 95L Satellite Imagery, Image: NOAA

Invest 95L Satellite Imagery, Image: NOAA

National Weather Service link tracking Gulf Low. (Click on the Gulf Low tab above the radar imagery.)

Meteorologists across the Gulf Coast are closely watching Invest 95L despite its lack of organization and poor chance of development. With oil still gushing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, this low and its associated wind and wave action could drive more oil into sensitive marshes and estuaries along the northern Gulf Coast. Yesterday, hurricane specialists Lixion Avila and Chris Landsea identified the low and gave it a 10% chance of development. We’d already had our eye on it in the FOX 8 Weather Department. Today, Avila and Landsea give it a 20% chance.

Stalled Frontal Boundary, Image: Unisys

Stalled Frontal Boundary, Image: Unisys

In early June and July, the main source of tropical development in the Gulf of Mexico is a low that forms off of a stalled frontal boundary in the gulf.  You can see the position of the low is about 150 miles or so south-southeast of the boot of Louisiana. There’s a lot of wind shear and dry air affecting the low right now keeping it from developing into anything tropical. Wind shear is expected to remain fairly strong over the next couple of days. So, for this thing to develop, wind shear has to relax and the dry air will have to be replaced by a warm and tropical air mass.

Water Vapor Imagery, Image: NOAA

Water Vapor Imagery, Image: NOAA

More troubling for Gulf Coast residents is the wind and wave action associated with a low pressure system east of Louisiana. With oil gushing offshore, a persistent southeast wind could drive the oil onshore. Wave heights are currently about 5 feet around the location of the Deepwater Horizon Incident. Wave heights are forecast to become 6′ offshore, keeping skimmers and other cleanup craft in safe harbor.

-Dawn Brown

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