What happens if a hurricane hits the Gulf Oil Slick?

There’s been a lot of worry and speculation over what will happen if a hurricane and the gulf oil spill collide. In response, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has prepared a document answering some of the questions. There’s of course, a lot of uncertainty too.

Hurricane Katrina Aug28, 2005


What will happen to a hurricane that runs through this oil slick?

• Most hurricanes span an enormous area of the ocean (200-300 miles) — far wider than the current size of the spill.
• If the slick remains small in comparison to a typical hurricane’s general environment and size, the anticipated impact on the hurricane would be minimal.
• The oil is not expected to appreciably affect either the intensity or the track of a fully developed tropical storm or hurricane.
• The oil slick would have little effect on the storm surge or near-shore wave heights.

What will the hurricane do to the oil slick in the Gulf?
• The high winds and seas will mix and “weather” the oil which can help accelerate the biodegradation process.
• The high winds may distribute oil over a wider area, but it is difficult to model exactly where the oil may be transported.
• Movement of oil would depend greatly on the track of the hurricane.
• Storms’ surges may carry oil into the coastline and inland as far as the surge reaches. Debris resulting from the hurricane may be contaminated by oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident, but also from other oil releases that may occur during the storm.
• A hurricane’s winds rotate counter-clockwise.

Thus, in VERY GENERAL TERMS:

  • A hurricane passing to the west of the oil slick could drive oil to the coast.
  • A hurricane passing to the east of the slick could drive the oil away from the coast.
  • However, the details of the evolution of the storm, the track, the wind speed, the size, the forward motion and the intensity are all unknowns at this point and may alter this general statement.

Will the oil slick help or hurt a storm from developing in the Gulf?
• Evaporation from the sea surface fuels tropical storms and hurricanes. Over relatively calm water (such as for a developing tropical depression or disturbance), in theory, an oil slick could suppress evaporation if the layer is thick enough, by not allowing contact of the water to the air.
• With less evaporation one might assume there would be less moisture available to fuel the hurricane and thus reduce its strength.
• However, except for immediately near the source, the slick is very patchy. At moderate wind speeds, such as those found in approaching tropical storms and hurricanes, a thin layer of oil such as is the case with the current slick (except in very limited areas near the well) would likely break into pools on the surface or mix as drops in the upper layers of the ocean. (The heaviest surface slicks, however, could re-coalesce at the surface after\ the storm passes.)
• This would allow much of the water to remain in touch with the overlying air and greatly reduce any effect the oil may have on evaporation.
• Therefore, the oil slick is not likely to have a significant impact on the hurricane.

Will the hurricane pull up the oil that is below the surface of the Gulf?
• All of the sampling to date shows that except near the leaking well, the subsurface dispersed oil is in parts per million levels or less. The hurricane will mix the waters of the Gulf and disperse the oil even further. Have we had experience in the past with hurricanes and oil spills?
• Yes, but our experience has been primarily with oil spills that occurred because of the storm, not from an existing oil slick and an ongoing release of oil from the seafloor.
• The experience from hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005) was that oil released during the storms became very widely dispersed.
• Dozens of significant spills and hundreds of smaller spills occurred from offshore facilities, shoreside facilities, vessel sinkings, etc.

Will there be oil in the rain related to a hurricane?
• No. Hurricanes draw water vapor from a large area, much larger than the area covered by oil, and rain is produced in clouds circulating the hurricane.
Learn more about NOAA’s response to the BP oil spill at http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/
deepwaterhorizon
.

Document available in PDF form here.

Will the oil slick help or hurt a storm from
developing in the Gulf?
• Evaporation from the sea surface fuels tropical
storms and hurricanes. Over relatively calm water
(such as for a developing tropical depression or
disturbance), in theory, an oil slick could suppress
evaporation if the layer is thick enough, by not
allowing contact of the water to the air.
• With less evaporation one might assume there
would be less moisture available to fuel the
hurricane and thus reduce its strength.
• However, except for immediately near the source,
the slick is very patchy. At moderate wind speeds,
such as those found in approaching tropical
storms and hurricanes, a thin layer of oil such as
is the case with the current slick (except in very
limited areas near the well) would likely break into
pools on the surface or mix as drops in the upper
layers of the ocean. (The heaviest surface slicks,
however, could re-coalesce at the surface after the
storm passes.)
• This would allow much of the water to remain in
touch with the overlying air and greatly reduce
any effect the oil may have on evaporation.
• Therefore, the oil slick is not likely to have a
significant impact on the hurricane.
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89 thoughts on “What happens if a hurricane hits the Gulf Oil Slick?

  1. Will there be oil in the rain related to a hurricane?

    Stupidest question.

  2. My experience in south Texas is that hurricanes disperse and/or bury oil already on the beach. Tar balls are common on Galveston Island beaches but less so after a storm. The Marshes should fare the same way. If anything, hurricanes have a tendency to leave beaches cleaner than they found them.

  3. This consideration of the possibility of a single hurricane is much better than mainstream media coverage which was treating the spill as if it was a Gulf-covering effect which was going to be permanent.

  4. It would be something of a miracle if a Hurricane eats the oil.
    “From whence they thought comes famine, comes relief:
    The eyes of the Sea are like a greedy dog’s,
    One eye is for oil, the other is for wheat”
    Can a Hurricane do that?

  5. There are (and have always been) natural oil leaks from the bottom of most seas. Can anyone give an estimate of the global volume of natural oil leakage, compared to the man-made leakage in the Gulf of Mexico? It would be interesting to get a perspective on this.

  6. I’ve had a brilliant solution to this oil well problem…………..

    Build a dike from Florida to South Ameria.

    Pump out all the water and allow the oil well to fill the the entire gulf of Mexico, creatinging a giant lake of oil.

    Set up refineries all along the gulf coast states.

    Our imported middle eastern oil problem is solved.

    What’d ya think?

  7. The mainstream media keep drumming the fact that this is the “largest oceanic oil spill in U.S. history”. However, there was a 3.4 million barrel spill lasting 9 months, also in the Gulf of Mexico, in 1979 through 1980. That’s about 5 times bigger than this spill (so far).

    I don’t remember it making the national U.S. news at all, even though it was just across the Gulf.
    What’s up with THAT??

  8. A hurrican would probably be of benefit, by mixing the oil it will break down faster through biological digestion, plus wind will help remove and break it down further. Oil in small amounts is better than concentrated and remember:

    Dillution is the solution to pollution!

  9. This article is from 1991. Sorry, I couldn’t locate any full text articles from 1979/80 about the Ixtoc spill of 3.3 million bbl into the Gulf of Mexico, however it is briefly mentioned here.

    Biggest oil spill tackled in gulf amid war, soft market. (News).

    The Oil and Gas Journal 89.n5 (Feb 4, 1991): pp12(5). (4977 words)
    COPYRIGHT PennWell Publishing Co. 1991

    Industry is scrambling to cope with history’s biggest oil spill against the backdrop of a Persian Gulf war and a softening oil market.

    U.S. and Saudi Arabian officials accused Iraq of unleashing an oil spill of about 11 million bbl into the Persian Gulf off Kuwait last week by releasing crude from the giant Sea Island tanker loading terminal at Mina al Ahmadi.

    Smart bombs delivered by U.S. aircraft hit two onshore tank farm manifold stations, cutting off the terminal’s source of oil flow Jan. 26. A small volume of oil was still leaking from 13 mile feeder pipelines to the terminal at presstime.

    [snip]

    Spill’s scope

    The exact size of the slick is uncertain because there is no accurate estimate of how long Iraq had been discharging oil into the gulf from the Sea Island terminal before the slick was spotted by allied forces arrayed against Iraq.

    Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Hisham Nazer said at its height the slick was 30 miles long and contained about 11 million bbl of oil.

    Industry sources in Europe agree that the gulf spill is the biggest ever seen, and some contend it has the potential to damage the environment to a greater degree than any previous spill.

    Previously, the largest oil spill on record occurred during June 1979-March 1980, when a well blowout on Mexico’s 1 Ixtoc platform dumped 3.3 million bbl of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.

  10. “Most hurricanes span an enormous area of the ocean (200-300 miles) — far wider than the current size of the spill.”

    Apparently the NHC hasn’t been reading our discussion of dimensional analysis recently. Area in terms of miles instead of square miles? I think what they were trying to convey was the width of a hurricane (200-300 miles is okay, but I think that’s for the reach of tropical storm force winds, not hurricane force winds except in very broad storms). The area affected is the width times the distance traveled, with adjustments for sharp bends and loops.

    The area of the eye of a hurricane can be 200-300 square miles. (Not 200-300 miles square!)

  11. Considering the leak may continue until August…. who can say?
    Hope I’m wrong, but the way things are going (nothing is working), the explosion seal must be starting to look like an option.

    I’ll bet the oil industry wishes they had a science that was “settled”.

  12. @Jack Maloney. Natural oil seeps are very common in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of California. For that matter, a famous one is on shore in La Brea, CA.

    There are an estimated 600 natural seeps in the Gulf. They are the single largest source of oil in Gulf waters and account for about 60% of the oil released by all causes in North America.

    The NAS estimated that 980,000 bbls, roughly a million barrels, leaks into the Gulf every year. The BP spill so far, assuming 20,000 bbls per day, is 800,000 bbls. Ixtoc I, the Pemex spill in 1979 that went on for nine months (in decreasing amounts) spilled about 3.5 million bbls.

    Wikipedia has a table of accidental spills worldwide.

  13. Does the government still have a lot of eggs in storage.

    We could make mayonnaise.

  14. Having sailed in winds over 80 miles per hour, wind picks up water and the waves stop. It turns into blowing foam. This particular water wouldn’t blow inland 5 miles. The surge can go inland and the fast heavy flow back of water is a gully washing oil remover. Having also sailed into water spouts, the updraft would lift oil.

  15. Ric Werme says:{May 30, 2010 at 6:04 pm} quoting: “Most hurricanes span an enormous area of the ocean (200-300 miles) — far wider than the current size of the spill.”
    Ric says:
    Apparently the NHC hasn’t been reading our discussion of dimensional analysis recently. Area in terms of miles instead of square miles? I think what they were trying to convey was the width of a hurricane (200-300 miles is okay, but I think that’s for the reach of tropical storm force winds, not hurricane force winds except in very broad storms)….”

    I think the use of the word “spans” makes it quite clear. They are talking about the width. And of course they were speaking to the width of the entire storm, including the reach of the tropical storm force winds because they are part of the same storm. I am glad they did put into perspective by saying a hurricane was “far wider than the current size of the spill.”

  16. Anthony,

    One of the issues I have seen posed is would an oil slick create a larger albedo on the surface, warming the water and therefore intensifying storms in the gulf? I understand that the Gulf was trending warmer prior to the spill regardless. My question is would the oil slick warm the gulf enough to intensify storms at all or is it to small/spotty for it to make any difference?

  17. #
    #
    Brute says:
    May 30, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I’ve had a brilliant solution to this oil well problem…………..

    Build a dike from Florida to South Ameria.

    Pump out all the water and allow the oil well to fill the the entire gulf of Mexico, creatinging a giant lake of oil….
    __________________________________________________________________
    ROTFLMAO Gee Brute, are you a reformed Climate Scientist?

  18. Gail,

    Nope, I’m an engineer.

    Something wrong with my solution? (beside spelling “creating” incorrectly).

    Seriously, it’s better than any of the solutions the “brain trust” at the White House or BP have come up with…………….(has to do with my contrarian personality I suppose).

    I’m a “glass half full” kinda guy……………….I try to think outside of the box………

  19. @ Brute…I LOVE your idea!!!!! Have no clue if it’s even remotely feasible, but the optimistic thinking behind it is commendable.

  20. I find it stunningly stupid that anyone could even imagine that the oil slick might effect the path or intensity of a hurricane. It says something about how willing we have become to over estimate our impact upon nature. Next well have the USGS issuing an FAQ on the Deep Horizon’s effect on regional plate tectonics.

    That said, there was a time, (the early 1960’s) when swimmers at Galveston didn’t know what tar balls were and the water was often clear enough to see little fish pecking at your feet in waist deep water. I gather those days are long gone.

  21. Nothing, or very little, should have happened since the government was supposed to burn the oil on the water in the vicinity of the leak. But that government plan was not followed by the government. Instead lawyers were sent(for some reason), and a S.W.A.T. team(for some reason). And Bush was blamed.

    So now it’s all FUBAR.

  22. Here’s a one-two punch.
    Three million pounds of lead down the hole should do the trick for the pressure.
    Then use the heavy mud as the final uppercut! :-\

    Now, how they could ever get it down the hole is entirely another matter.

  23. Maybe the oil on the water will reduce the coefficient of friction between any hurricane winds and the water, making the hurricane travel much faster with increased wind speed.

    Or maybe not.

  24. Brute are you sure your an engineer?

    i mean really, if your an engineer wouldnt you look at a half glass of water and say the glass was twice as big as it needs to be?

    as in most things theres reality and reality on paper.

    in reality on paper, you could potentially see a difference in the behavior of a hurricane due to the presence oil in the surrounding water.

    in reality, who cares? theres a hurricane coming!

  25. Kate, It is a dumb idea..

    Look and see that the Mississippi River enters the “oil storage area”.
    Look and see how deep the ocean is at the leakage site.

  26. stevengoddard says:
    May 30, 2010 at 6:06 pm
    Every time I have ever gone swimming in Galveston, I have come out covered with oil. It is part of the experience.
    ——————–
    Stop smearing yourself with that greasy suntan lotion.

  27. Brute says:
    May 30, 2010 at 5:23 pm
    I’ve had a brilliant solution to this oil well problem…………..

    Build a dike from Florida to South Ameria.

    =====================================

    Damn funny.

    Only problem is it blocks the energy needed for the Gulf Stream.

    The Gulf Stream is undeniably one of the most important energy transports on the planet.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA (dependent upon the Gulf Stream)

  28. Brute says:
    May 30, 2010 at 7:51 pm
    “I try to think outside of the box………”

    Judging by your idea of a dike, I’m guessing that box is an 8 x 4 with padded walls?

  29. It’s seems pretty well proved that oil and accompanying gas is not from dead dinosaurs and buried plants. It was always here seeping from depths below and always will, whether we use it or not. Hurricanes have been here since this planet started to spin and the sun shine and they will be here till the end.

    They’re buddies, playmates, and have frolicked on this globe for eons. So, I personally don’t feel they will have one bit of trouble this time around this summer, though Mr. Hurricane might say to Ms. Oilslick, have you put a bit of weight lately, you don’t look so thin and slim this season? :)

    Now if we’re going to have an action, it might be a slap!

  30. Brute: A few problems with your solution. For one, the energy required to pump out the water would make the oil among the most expensive ever produced.

    Next problem: disposing of all the fish/sharks/mammals/crustaceans in the Gulf. Environmentalists would never allow that.

    Another problem: several rivers empty into the Gulf – one of them fairly large by world standards, the Mississippi.

    Not to mention the air pollution caused by millions of square miles of oil surface with wind blowing across it. The downwind communities will be holding their noses – and their breath. While they are cussing the idiots who did this to them.

    Also must remember that the Mississippi River is a major waterway for barges, as is the intra-coastal canal. Ships don’t float very well in oil, and if they must do so, they must carry far less cargo.

    We import an awful lot of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, so all the imports must be replaced with (as yet un-drilled) oil wells. That’s going to take a while, even if permits to drill were issued.

    Obtaining international cooperation among all the impacted Central American and Caribbean nations, plus northern South American countries might present a problem.

    I like the fact that you are thinking outside the box, though.

  31. What oil does to droplet formation in clouds is something I’ve been wondering about. AFAIK a droplet in a cloud which forms on a CCN polluted with oil will more readily combine with another droplet: at a certain size the droplet falls out of the air column. In a hurricane the oil would then probably be recycled. So, does an oily ocean surface increase precipitation from a hurricane cloud?

    http://www.infoniac.com/science/ground-based-bacteria-may-produce-rain.html is a paper about bacterial surfactant having the effect I expect from oil. The only stuff I can find about oily droplets is a poor quality film showing what happens when a falling drop makes new droplets on a polluted water surface. See: ‘The Impact of Organic Material on Cloud and Fog Processes’ WD Garrett 1978

    “One of the issues I have seen posed is would an oil slick create a larger albedo on the surface, warming the water and therefore intensifying storms in the gulf? ”

    That’s ‘lower albedo’. It’s very clear on the Gulf Modis pictures, a patch of darker blue visible to the naked eye. I can see the slick eating the clouds around it (oily droplets combining and falling out, or is it the warming effect of the albedo change on the water temps?), but that’s just me self-justifying my hypothesis.

    “I find it stunningly stupid that anyone could even imagine that the oil slick might effect the path or intensity of a hurricane. It says something about how willing we have become to over estimate our impact upon nature.”

    Thank goodness there’s someone here who has some facts — one does get sick of speculation. Have you any experimental data about the behaviour of polluted droplets, recycling of pollutants in high wind situations, expected temperature changes due to the albedo change of the sea surface affected by the slick? I’ve been searching for years for the former and the latter is very relevant here. A pointer to papers will be good enough, I can dig away for myself once I find them. I expect a big chunk of light oil would decisively alter the internal physics of even a major weather system, especially if recycling of the pollutant takes place — a catalyst-style effect.

    It doesn’t seem obvious that oil will strengthen a hurricane — perhaps it would gut the central power system of a storm which would intensify and then fade. I’ve been puzzled about the track of one storm which was storming (sorry) across the Atlantic and then suddenly stopped, turned right and died. Upper winds, I hear you say. Maybe.

    The more I read about cloud physics the more understanding I have of the wide uncertainy boundaries even the IPCC admits are there, but the less I understand the certainty of e.g. Martin Rees with his ‘science is settled’ mantra.

    JF

  32. How about the effect of pouring oil on troubled waters; a suppression of the waves, a smoothing of the surface, and so an overall reduction in sea-surface area, and so a reduction in heat transfer to the air, and so a lessening of hurricane strength?

    Could anybody comment on the possibility of the ‘Garfunkel Effect’?

  33. wayne says:
    May 31, 2010 at 12:02 am
    “It’s seems pretty well proved…”

    Oops, how about “proven”.

  34. SteveFromWinnipeg says:

    …n reality on paper, you could potentially see a difference in the behavior of a hurricane due to the presence oil in the surrounding water.”

    Certainly more of a difference than can be seen from a hundred ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, on paper or otherwise.

  35. My concern would be the creation of an extra hot loop current. In 2004 and 2005 the worst storms became super-intensified because their path went directly over the very hot loop current. If the oil is entrained in the loop currents, that could affect the reflectivity of water and raise the temperature of the loop currents, if the path of a hurricane passes this super hot loop current, it could be a super-duper-looper of a hurricane.

  36. Re stevengoddard says: Every time I have ever gone swimming in Galveston, I have come out covered with oil. It is part of the experience.

    I try to swim in the ocean, rather than in those big white tanks along its edge.

  37. To Brute:

    Just one small question: how high are the Mississippi levees going to have to be under the new arrangements? Or do you simply reverse the flow of the river?

  38. Brute,

    With that much depth the components in the crude will naturally settle out a bit. Some will want the thick stuff at the bottom, and some undesired crud will settle on the bottom as well. So to make for easier pumping from there and to keep out the rocks and soil already at the bottom, we’ll have to lay down a plastic liner after pumping out the water.

    We also don’t want countries getting OUR oil who haven’t done anything to deserve it, so we’ll have to stop the dike short of South America and curve it back upwards. Only as far as Mexico would likely be good enough, we already deal with Mexico for oil and it’ll make for a “North American” petroleum trading partnership.

    We’ll also want to keep the lighter hydrocarbons from just evaporating away, so we’ll need a cover of plastic sheeting on top. Sheeting will work better than a hard cover, it’ll flex as the vapors expand and contract. To make it an acceptable green save-the-earth project, we’ll make it either white or perhaps a shiny silver like Mylar. That’ll send enough sunlight right back into space that the whole global warming climate change problem will be taken care of, and we can burn our oil wealth guilt free.

    With those slight modifications, yup, good plan you got there.

  39. What’s going to happen? The next Katrinia is going to slide right past New Orleans and right up the Mississippi River and destroy St Louis, that’s what’s going to happen. Right?

    I still think they can save us if the just take all that coal ash from all the coal fired power plants and sprinkle it all over the oil slick. That’ll sink it!

  40. Hmmmm, Hurricanes as pollution control devices….I like it!!!
    Surely with the help of the IPCC we can steer one to the east side of the affected coastal areas and wash the oil out of the marshes and off the shores.

  41. John B –
    The albedo of the ocean is 0.1
    It’s not likely the oil would be lower than that, and even if it was, it can’t get much lower.
    The oil contains lots of volatiles. When these vaporize, they would actually cool the surface.

    wayne –
    They tried dropping heavy materials like lead and such into the Ixtac blowout. It slowed down the leak, to 10,000 bbl/day, but did not stop it. Only the relief well stopped it.

    Julian Flood-
    Almost all the stuff vaporizing from the slick will be VOCs (volatile organic compounds – but to the EPA, only the smog-forming ones), which react with sunlight and chemicals in the air to make smog. So then the question becomes ‘how does smog affect clouds and rain’. I’m sure someone has already answered that.

    All –
    Speaking of hurricanes, I hear that the National whatever Service is forecasting a big bad year for hurricanes. Surprised I haven’t seen any commentary on that yet.

  42. kadaka (KD Knoebel),

    Yes, I see……..(stroking my chin beard and nodding my head in agreement).

    Certainly there are a few (minor) issues to overcome, but I like the way you think!

    The rest of the “naysayers” are simply defeatists that cannot appreciate the genius of my, (now our) plan.

    I’d better stop commenting and get to work on “Lake Viscous” as not to (further) ruin Anthony’s thread.

    I’m headed to Washington DC with my proposal for presentation to Barack “Sheik” Obumbler and the rest of the “effective” leadership that passes for the United States government.

    I’m certain that these responsible political leaders will embrace our idea with open arms and “appropriate” the necessary funds from the taxpayers to get the ball rolling on the project.

  43. There won´t be any ECOLOGICAL DISASTER but in the small minds of greens.
    The high winds and seas will mix and “weather” the oil which can help accelerate the biodegradation process
    …..if there is a real hurricane and not a tropical depression named as such by catastrophilic NOAA´s GWR´s personnel.

  44. Just one small question: how high are the Mississippi levees going to have to be under the new arrangements? Or do you simply reverse the flow of the river?

    ————————————————————————–
    Bob Doney,

    Simple. We reroute the Mississippi to intersect the Rio Grande reversing it’s flow to feed the thirsty residents of the Southwest.

    This will not only provide more potable water for these areas but will widen and deepen the Rio Grande saving us the money of having to build a border fence to keep out illegal aliens.

  45. If all the area would be evenly covered with oil, that would be a different case and something to watch, as oil is dielectric, but it is not the case.

  46. It’s really very simple:

    If a hurricane further disperses the oil, drives it away from the coasts, and reduces the impact on marine life, it will be a fabulous, lucky intervention by Mother Nature.

    If a hurricane drives the oil to the coasts, lifts it over the booms and berms, and causes great harm to the marshes and inlets, it will be the fault of global warming.

  47. “How about the effect of pouring oil on troubled waters; a suppression of the waves, a smoothing of the surface, and so an overall reduction in sea-surface area, and so a reduction in heat transfer to the air, and so a lessening of hurricane strength?”

    The emissivity of smoothed water is less. I’ve speculated about the possibility that oil pollution leads to later freezing and so earlier melting in the waters north of the North Slope, Alaska and in the Sea of Okhotsk, so it even explains the amplification of warming in northern waters.

    The photoshopped ploar bear on its little ice-floe has a nice bit of smoothed water in the background — the stuff is everywhere.

    Re The Braer — I have a vague memory that the films of the disaster showed a marked decrease in cloud cover downwind of the wreck.

    JF

  48. Q: What will the storm do to the floating oil barriers?
    A: Destroy many, tie some in knots, sink a few and blow the rest in away leaving the coastal marshes defenceless and costing millions of dollars to replace.

    Q: What will the oil do to the ships working at the leak site?
    A: Force then to flee to safety either loosing the robots, abandoned at the sea bed or wasting hours to retrieve them. Either way the efforts at the surface will be disrupted.

    Why aren’t these two questions on the list? How much are these idiot getting paid? I could do better. Most will notice the questions absence. their trust is fragile. This will shatter what’s left.

    We need a solution: The obvious is being ignored. Years ago experiments were done transporting oil with flexible bags of rubberised cloth. Anchor one over the leak with the other end near the surface, They have valves at both ends. Transfer the fluid: oil and water to another bag. Tow it to port and pump it through a water oil separation complex on shore. In the time it took them to stuff around with the junkshot and top kill they could have made 10 bags with 400 barrel capacity by now.
    The beauty of this is that the transfer could be sub surface below the storm. Though you’d need a navy sub to handle the towing of the oil bladder.


    A long thin bladder tows better than the ones in the image on this link:

    The web has forgotten about this technology.
    Cut and past the image link I don’t trust the html.

  49. A further problem with Brute’s idea – what about the effect on world wide sea levels that pumping all that water out would have? You don’t want to go giving the warmists any more ammunition…

  50. “• If the slick remains small in comparison to a typical hurricane’s general environment and size, the anticipated impact on the hurricane would be minimal.
    • The oil is not expected to appreciably affect either the intensity or the track of a fully developed tropical storm or hurricane.”

    Thank Gaia that her hurricane will not be damaged by this man-made catastrophe.

  51. I reckon there will be a tropical depression starting 14th to 16th June, with a likely track to Florida.

  52. In the olden days of sailing ships, when ships got into trouble, due to hurricane force storms, it was widely believed, that dumping oil overboard calmed the sea. Most seasoned sailors, up until recently, practiced this seamanship. I always had trouble with the theory, but there is lots of anecdotal sailor testimony. GK

  53. I reckon there will be a tropical depression forming 14th to 16th June, with a likely track to Florida.

  54. Where did all the oil go in 1979?
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64N57U20100524

    “Experts have warned that the BP well may not be capped until relief wells are completed two months from now, by which time the spill could be bigger than the Exxon Valdez disaster, which spilled an estimated 257,000 barrels of oil (10.8 million gallons/(40.9 million liters).
    But it would still not surpass the extent of the disaster caused by the Ixtoc spill, which belched crude oil for 297 days, dumping nearly 3 million barrels (126 million gallons/477 million liters) of oil into the southern Gulf of Mexico, some of which eventually washed up on the Texas coast, according to Pemex. Pemex pumped cement and salt water into Ixtoc for months before finally bringing the runaway well under control and sealing it with cement plugs.”

    Ok, so “some washed up on the Texas coast”.
    Where did the rest of the 3 million barrels of oil go?
    &
    Why wasn’t there the ruin of the gulf?

    “Pemex claimed that half of the released oil burned when it reached the surface, a third of it evaporated, and the rest was contained or dispersed.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ixtoc_I_oil_spill

    Volume and extent of spill

    In the initial stages of the spill, an estimated 30,000 barrels of oil per day were flowing from the well. In July 1979, the pumping of mud into the well reduced the flow to 20,000 barrels per day, and early in August the pumping of nearly 100,000 steel, iron, and lead balls into the well reduced the flow to 10,000 barrels per day. Pemex claimed that half of the released oil burned when it reached the surface, a third of it evaporated, and the rest was contained or dispersed.[6] Mexican authorities also drilled two relief wells into the main well to lower the pressure of the blowout, however the oil continued to flow for three months following the completion of the first relief well.[7]

    Pemex contracted Conair Aviation to spray the chemical dispersant Corexit 9527 on the oil. A total of 493 aerial missions were flown, treating 1,100 square miles of oil slick. Dispersants were not used in the U.S. area of the spill because of the dispersant’s inability to treat weathered oil. Eventually the on-scene coordinator (OSC) requested that Mexico stop using dispersants north of 25°N.[6]

    In Texas, an emphasis was placed on coastal countermeasures protecting the bays and lagoons formed by the barrier islands. Impacts of oil to the barrier island beaches were ranked as second in importance to protecting inlets to the bays and lagoons. This was done with the placement of skimmers and booms. Efforts were concentrated on the Brazos-Santiago Pass, Port Mansfield Channel, Aransas Pass, and Cedar Bayou which during the course of the spill was sealed with sand. Economically and environmentally sensitive barrier island beaches were cleaned daily. Laborers used rakes and shovels to clean beaches rather than heavier equipment which removed too much sand. Ultimately, 71,500 barrels of oil impacted 162 miles of U.S. beaches, and over 10,000 cubic yards of oiled material were removed.[6]

    Containment
    In the next nine months, experts and divers including Red Adair were brought in to contain and cap the oil well.[6] An average of approximately ten thousand to thirty thousand barrels per day were discharged into the Gulf until it was finally capped on 23 March 1980, nearly 10 months later.[8]

    Aftermath
    Prevailing currents carried the oil towards the Texas coastline. The US government had two months to prepare booms to protect major inlets. Eventually, in the US, 162 miles (261 km) of beaches and 1421 birds were affected by 3,000,000 barrels (480,000 m3) of oil.[8] Pemex spent $100 million to clean up the spill and avoided paying compensation by asserting sovereign immunity.[9]

    The oil slick surrounded Rancho Nuevo, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which is one of the few nesting sites for Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. Thousands of baby sea turtles were airlifted to a clean portion of the Gulf of Mexico to help save the rare species.

  55. I’d say it depends on whether the hurricane rotates counter-clockwise (normal) or clockwise (ManBearPig). If its MBP then it will cause climate chaos.

  56. WOOHOO!

    Global sea ice area just went ABOVE normal! Global warmers will celebrate, right?

  57. Re: Kate says: May 30, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    @ Brute…I LOVE your idea!!!!! Have no clue if it’s even remotely feasible, but the optimistic thinking behind it is commendable.

    Feasible? Sure. Just needs a rather large coffer dam constructing. Rest is just addressing some of the same problems we’d have with other geoengineering proposals.

    Impacts on gulf stream? No idea.

    Changes to Mississipi flow? I like the Rio Grande solution but there has been a previous, oil related incident that created a flow reversal from the Gulf back in land, albeit temporarily when Lake Peigneur was accidentally drained into an old salt mine.

    Dealing with the fish? Well, may temporarily depress sea food prices. Not an engineering problem.

    Dealing with compensating property owners for loss of beach front property? Well, there’d be potential to sell more real estate, if the Gulf were fully drained and/or allowed to silt up. Potentially quite fertile as well if the oil’s dealt with.

    Pumping the water out? Easy, we may finally have found a use for all those windmills.

    Don’t know why people are being such pessimists, it’s a bit like Louisianna’s proposal to go it alone on rebuilding their barrier islands, only on a grander scale.

  58. wes george says:
    May 30, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    That said, there was a time, (the early 1960′s) when swimmers at Galveston didn’t know what tar balls were and the water was often clear enough to see little fish pecking at your feet in waist deep water. I gather those days are long gone.

    The Galveston swimmers must have been in the river. Before Columbus, indians on Padre Island used asphalt. There have been a lot of reports of oil, including three jets of oil in 1909 spurting into the air, 120 miles south of Trinity Shoals (that’s 200 miles SE of Galveston, very roughly halfway near a line between the Rio Grande and Louisiana’s southeast finger).

    Brute says:
    May 31, 2010 at 5:57 am
    Just one small question: how high are the Mississippi levees going to have to be under the new arrangements? Or do you simply reverse the flow of the river?

    ————————————————————————–
    Bob Doney,

    Simple. We reroute the Mississippi to intersect the Rio Grande reversing it’s flow to feed the thirsty residents of the Southwest.

    This will not only provide more potable water for these areas but will widen and deepen the Rio Grande saving us the money of having to build a border fence to keep out illegal aliens.

    The Mississippi River is only 100 feet above sea level when it enters Louisiana. The Rio Grande at Laredo (I-35) is 350 asl, and 240 asl at Falcon Dam. That, and the volume of fill needed for the Florida-Venezuela levee, suggests two-dimensional thinking.

  59. Jbar says:
    May 31, 2010 at 5:36 am
    wayne –
    They tried dropping heavy materials like lead and such into the Ixtac blowout. It slowed down the leak, to 10,000 bbl/day, but did not stop it. Only the relief well stopped it.

    Thanks Jbar, will search Ixtac (have any links handy?). Just wanted to make sure someone had that option as a possible. I would like to find what was the size of Ixtac’s casing, how much weight was injected, what density, and did it manage to fall against the flow. Every pound and square inch placed at the bottom will limit the pressure and flow if there is enough density though that alone would not seal it.

  60. A hurricane in the Gulf could be a helpful event by helping to clean up the mess but there are some big negatives.

    If the latest scheme is to cut off the riser and the pipe within it flush with the top of the BOP, then to set a new riser that carries the oil to the surface for recovery but also brings down warm water from the surface to minimize the creation of gas hydrates near the bottom, wouldn’t this contraption have to be removed in event of a hurricane? Wouldn’t the gusher then be left wide open in that case? And after the old bent-over riser is cut off, even while the contraption is being fitted over the top of the BOP, isn’t the gusher going to go full blast until the contraption starts collecting the oil and gas for hopeful recovery?

    If the old bent-over riser is going to be cut-off, thus risking that full blast for awhile anyhow, why not simply attach a new BOP atop the old BOP and then close off the new BOP after that attachment is completed? Then before a hurricane arrives, can’t the entire fleet of recovery vessels, including the two drill ships now working on the relief wells, head for safe haven?

  61. The press and television media are in full cry about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The have been emphasizing that this is the largest off shore oil spill in US history. However if one goes beneath the hype, one can easily find that this is not the largest spill in US history and not the largest offshore spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This Wikipedia article details the Ixtoc 1 oil blow out and spill that lasted for 9 months between 1979 and 1980.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ixtoc_I_oil_spill

    The average flow was about 30,000 barrels a day which is greater than that of the current one. The well continued to flow for three months after the first relief well was completed. The oil flowed towards Texas but because of the long lead time adequate relief measures forestalled any significant damage to the Texas environment.
    The largest oil spill in US history was the Lakeview Gusher that lasted for 18 months beginning in 1909. It spilled an estimated 9 million barrels of oil before it was brought under control in 1911

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakeview_Gusher

    What appears to be happening here is a collision between the needs of the television and Internet media for a dramatic emotional story and the reality of a leaking oil well in the vastness of the ocean We see images of crying congressman and demands that President Obama do something. What we do not see or hear is any detailed analysis of just what is going on. I have no recollection of any major concern about the Ixtoc blow out. I suppose that this is because it occurred before the development of 24 hour news channels and Internet streaming video.
    it took me only a few minutes and Google to find this out. I have seen nothing matching this in the extensive press coverage.

  62. Well obviously then, if the Rio (at 350 ft) is higher than the Mississippi, we must re-route the Rio Grande to flow back up the Mississippi.

    Seriously though, once it is plugged up just south of N’leans, the Mississippi will not fill the Gulf and can be ignored.

    I like the idea of the plastic liner under the oil reservoir. Good thinking.

    The dike can go from FL towards Cuba, then from west Cuba towards Mexico’s penisula. This will not affect the Gulf Stream, since its currents are to the east of Cuba going north. Gulf of Mexico doesn’t have much flow that way now.

    No need to pump. Let the water evaporate, and rake the fishes up off the bottom as it gets shallower. (This does take longer though.) If we put turbines on a few pipes flowing from the Atlantic down to the reservoir, then we can use that power to pump the rest of the water out. The flowing water will obviously contribute to the new green economy by replenishing the salt flats on the bottom and be renewable.

    Sunken ships now on the bottom can be recovered cheaply for scrap – a further plus for the green energy funding.

  63. This huge oil spill is no more than what could have been a foreseen result of the major change in management concept embraced circa 1970 or thereabouts. Prior to that change, a requirement of decision-making managers was that the managers had to have a significant knowledge of the technology used by those they managed. The change in concept is that managers don’t have to have any knowledge of the technology used by the people they manage.

    In this particular incident, the BP manager decided that the drilling fluid was needed more for another BP drilling operation (heavy mud is expensive, save some money he could brag about), and directed the captain of the drilling rig to pump out the drilling fluid before the drilling bit and drilling steel was withdrawn. The captain and the drilling crew argued vehemently against doing so, saying that it would be not safe to do so, but the BP executive is reported (by eye witnesses who survived the resultant huge explosion) to have said, “Well, that is the way it is going to be,” and the drilling fluid was pumped out.

    There is always likely to be large quantities of methane on top of crude oil. and it is far harder for methane to make its way through drilling fluid than it is for methane to simply bubble up through saltwater. This is why it is common practice for oil drillers to pump the drilling fluid out only after the drilling steel has been removed. The shutoff valve can’t be closed until there is no drilling steel in its way.

    Had the BP executive been knowledgeable in the technology, he never would have made such a stupid and tragic decision. No technical knowledge, and unwilling to listen to those who did have the technical knowledge.

    As for what might happen to or as a result of a hurricane, only with the experience will we know. For sure, lesser storms will happen before this leak is stopped, and can blow whatever is on the surface to shore.

    Moreover, the clowns and monkeys of the the Mainstream Media Circus will hype the threat of a hurricane to the nth degree. What is happening is that the tourist industry is already being harmed seriously in those gulf states due to this oil spill, and will most likely be harmed in a much worse fashion. Why risk a summer vacation being ruined because of the possibly oil contaminated beach? Easy enough to make reservations for this summer at a location not on a beach on the gulf coast.

  64. Re: RACookPE1978 says:
    May 31, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Well obviously then, if the Rio (at 350 ft) is higher than the Mississippi, we must re-route the Rio Grande to flow back up the Mississippi.

    I did some detailed modelling and spotted a snag. Ok, used calculator and may have misplaced a decimal point. But draining the Gulf could lead to a rise in sea level of 70m. So fill it instead of draining it, extend the Mississipi out to Miami and job’s a good’un.

    Creates green jobs for a couple of generations, can build a road, rail link or even cycle path from Miami to Cancun and save some air miles. But dredging offshore to fill the gulf could help spawn a sea-level offsetting business to compete with carbon trading!

  65. LarryO.T. said: There is always likely to be large quantities of methane on top of crude oil. and it is far harder for methane to make its way through drilling fluid than it is for methane to simply bubble up through saltwater. This is why it is common practice for oil drillers to pump the drilling fluid out only after the drilling steel has been removed. The shutoff valve can’t be closed until there is no drilling steel in its way.

    Had the BP executive been knowledgeable in the technology, he never would have made such a stupid and tragic decision. No technical knowledge, and unwilling to listen to those who did have the technical knowledge.
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The BOP is supposed to shear most drill pipe too, but maybe not through a joint. Obviously that’s a speculative gamble that should never be taken, and BOPs should be designed to take care of 100% of ANY drill pipe being used, not just the parts that don’t have those tougher joints.

    But when that inexperienced dummy ordered his idiotic withdrawal of the mud without testing for the integrity of the cementing job, the Transocean person in charge who had lost his argument with his BP customer, remarked something to the effect of “the (BOP) shear rams are there” to settle the argument ultimately.

    But where was the ship’s captain, who has ultimate responsibility for his ship? Why didn’t he settle the argument in favor of his expert subordinate? And where was the MMS inspector’s expertise? Is this what we get when we have an environmentalist as Sec. of Interior, who chose as his MMS Director — who recently resigned (under pressure?) — someone with experience as a lawyer-environmentalist VP for a river preservation outfit, and having had zero experience in any way involving that disgusting stuff called oil? Didn’t the Secretary of Interior recently state that he appointed her for that very reason?

    So maybe there is plenty of blame to go around for this unfortunate problem.

  66. What would happen if the hurricane ran over the oil slick?
    Remember the Dennis Hopper commerical about Bruce Smith’s shoes:

    If Dennis was still around, that would be his answer.

  67. Weather Action Tropical Cyclone Forecast

    {End May} to June 4th (α & Δ type) SLAPs
    The EAST PACIFIC storm Agatha 29 May which was correctly predicted as the first East Pacific TS of the
    season (for time window 30-31 May to ± 1 day) has been / is being followed by thundery disturbances on
    the Central American Peninsula & possible disturbances in West Gulf Of Mexico.
    ● 3-4th JUNE α type SLAP (BC 70% confidence)
    TD/(poss TS) Gulf Of Mexico (maybe just areas of disturbed weather which do not develop)
    Would disperse some oil slick.
    JUNE 12-14th – α type EA SLAP (AB = 80% confidence)
    ● TS/H1 Caribbean / Gulf of Mexico with track northward to South USA or Florida
    landfall. Would significantly disperse oil slick.
    JUNE 21-23rd Major α SLAP (AB=80% Confidence) Extra statement to that created 16 May.
    ● (similar to previous) TS/H1 Caribbean / Gulf of Mexico with track northward to South
    USA or Florida landfall. Would significantly disperse oil slick.
    JUNE 26-28th –(& poss July1) Major α & Δ SLAP (AB=80% Confidence)
    ● TS EAST PACIFIC TS/H1 close to Mexico/Central America Peninsula. Land effect likely.
    ● TS/H1 Gulf Of Mexico. Landfall likely. Would significantly disperse some oil slick.
    Other Gulf, Caribbean & East Pacific TS / FRD events UNLIKELY in other parts of this forecast period.

    http://www.weatheraction.com/displayarticle.asp?a=200&c=5

  68. What is the average temp of the Gulf water and what is the temp of the oil? I mean, when my bath starts to get cold I heat it back up with some hot water. Could a temp exchange mess up the average temp and affect natural currents? Just curious.

  69. I draw attention to the following 10,000 year periods in the Vostok Ice Cores plot of temperature and CO2 originally published (I think) on the daviesand website, which I take to represent equivalent stages in the last three global temperature cycles:

    present to 10,000 years ago
    120,000 years ago to 130,000 years ago
    230,000 years ago to 240,000 years ago
    315,000 years ago to 325,000 years ago.

    In the last three periods listed, CO2 levels followed a declining trend, following a declining trend in temperature; but in the first, CO2 has followed a rising trend, even though temperature has followed a declining trend. So what has caused the change in behaviour? It seems unlikely to be human behaviour, starting as long as 10,000 years ago.

  70. WHEN some Gulf storms are likely coming would be useful….

    From web link http://www.weatheraction.com/displayarticle.asp?a=200&c=5

    “Piers Corbyn of WeatherAction has released – 31 May – forecast details for the likely formation of THREE Gulf/Caribbean and ONE East Pacific Tropical Storm during JUNE.

    This forecast follows on WeatherAction’s acclaimed verified ‘double first’ long range forecasts of the formation dates to within a day of the first tropical storms of the season for The Bay of Bengal and for the East Pacific (TS Agatha which lashed Guatemala). As predicted both storms made landfall – of deadly consequences – see:

    http://www.weatheraction.com/docs/WANews10No20.pdf

    The predicted storm developments in the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean and expected to pass through the Gulf of Mexico will help disperse the oil slick. The forecasted thundery development or storm formation dates are:-

    Around 3-4 June for thundery developments (unlikley to develop to Tropical Storm).

    Around 12-14 June – significant storm formation.

    Around 21-23 June – significant storm formation.

    Around 26-28 June – significant storm formation.

    For further details of likely formation areas and storm tracks, including for an East Pacific storm, please see:

    http://www.weatheraction.com/member.asp & click on Extreme Events Rest of World.

    Forecast updates will be issued via link above.

    AND for likely extreme events in USA June 9th – 30th please see:
    http://www.weatheraction.com/displayarticle.asp?a=202&c=5

    Thanks Piers Corbyn

  71. Sorry if i missed an answer to this, I didnt read all of the posts.
    I was reading online that people use a thin layer of oil on water to prevent evaporation.
    Couldn’t this be a problem? in my eyes all of that oil is eventually gonna disperse itself over the top of the ocean.
    no rain? or drastically less?
    also this global warming issue. probably wont help it.
    that satalite pic looks like the surface area is more than hawaii’s already.

    speculating, if i am right, couldnt this change weather patterns? no evaporation would mean warmer water in the surrounding areas, causing additional evaporation around the spill??

  72. well brute from what your saying , you want the oil to be a lake of oil in the gulf to south america ….. well thats not gona work because then more and more air pollution is gona destroy our atmosphere …. so brute im just say my opion because im concerned ….. and im only 12 people ! ! !

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