How oil might affect a hurricane

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:59 PM GMT on May 07, 2010

Share this Blog
8
+

There's no major changes to the forecast for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. As I discussed in yesterday's post, on Sunday, the winds will begin increasing and shifting to the southeast. The latest run of the GFS model shows that this will be a week-long period of southeast winds, with wind speeds at times reaching 20 - 25 knots. These winds will threaten to bring oil to a large portion of the Louisiana coast, including regions of the central Louisiana coast west of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi and Alabama coasts will also be at risk next week, but the risk to the Florida Panhandle is lower. Yesterday's post also has the long-range outlook for oil to get into the Loop Current and spread to the Florida Keys and beyond.

What will oil in the Gulf of Mexico do to a hurricane?
With hurricane season fast approaching and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico likely to still be around once hurricane season starts in June, we need to ask, how will oil affect any hurricanes that might traverse over the spill? And how might a hurricane's wind and storm surge affect the spill? Let's consider the first of those questions today.

From the time of the ancient Greeks to the days of the wooden ships and iron men, mariners dumped barrels of oil onto raging seas to calm them during critical moments of violent storms (Wyckoff, 1886.) Oil does indeed calm wind-driven waves, thanks to the reduction in surface tension of the water that oil causes. Ripples with a wavelength shorter than 17 mm are affected by surface tension, and these ripples then cause a feedback that reduces the height of larger waves with longer wavelengths (Scott, 1986.) The reduction of surface tension also impacts the flow of air above the water, and reduces the amount of sea spray thrown into the air, both of which could affect the wind speed. Oil also damps waves by forming a thick, viscous film at the top of the water that resists water motion (Scott, 1999.) Oil also helps calm raging seas by switching off of the wind energy input needed by the wave to break. This occurs because the surface film of oil prevents the generation of ripples on the exposed crests of the waves, and this smoother surface makes the wind less able to grab onto the wave and force it to break.

So, what would happen to a hurricane that encounters a large region of oily waters? A 2005 paper by Barenblatt et al. theorize that spray droplets hurled into the air by a hurricane's violent winds form a layer intermediate between air and sea made up of a cloud of droplets that can be viewed as a "third fluid". The large droplets in the air suppress turbulence in this "third fluid", decrease the frictional drag over the ocean surface, and accelerate the winds. According to this theory of turbulence, oil dumped on the surface of the ocean would reduce the formation of wind-whipped spray droplets, potentially calming the winds. The authors propose spraying oil on the surface of the ocean to reduce the winds of a hurricane. However, the turbulence theory championed by Barenblatt et al. has been challenged by other scientists. In a 2005 interview with Newscientist magazine, turbulence expect Julian Hunt at University College London, UK, remarks, "I am very doubtful about this approach." Hunt studies turbulence both theoretically and in the laboratory, and believes that the high wind speeds in a hurricane are not caused by sea spray. In an article he wrote for the Journal of Fluid Dynamics, Hunt suggests that variations in the turbulence between different regions of the hurricane cause sharp jumps in wind speed, which are responsible for the hurricane's strongest winds.

Oil reduces evaporation
Hurricanes are sustained by the heat liberated when water vapor that has evaporated from warm ocean waters condenses into rain. If one can reduce the amount of water evaporating from the ocean, a decrease in the hurricane's strength will result. Oil on the surface of the ocean will act to limit evaporation, and could potentially decrease the strength of a hurricane. However, if the oil is mixed away from the surface by the strong winds of a hurricane, the oil will have a very limited ability to reduce evaporation. According to a 2005 article in Popular Science magazine, Dr. Kerry Emanuel of MIT performed some tests in 2002 to see if oil on the surface of water could significantly reduce evaporation into a hurricane. He found that the slick quickly dissipated under high wind conditions that generated rough seas.


Figure 1. A comparison of the size of 2008's Hurricane Gustav with the size of the Gulf oil spill. The spill is only about 60 miles in diameter, while a hurricane like Gustav is typically 400+ miles in diameter.

Conclusion
A tropical cyclone in its formative stage--as either a tropical depression or a tropical storm with 40 mph winds--might be adversely affected if it encountered the Gulf of Mexico oil slick, due to the reduction of evaporation into the storm. However, a full-fledged hurricane would mix the oil into the ocean to such a degree that the storm would probably not see any significant reduction in evaporation. It remains unknown how the reduction of sea spray by oil might affect a hurricane. If the oil slick expands to a much larger size, there might be a significant reduction in strength of the hurricane, if theory of how a reduction of sea spray will decrease a hurricane's winds is correct. However, the oil slick is currently Delaware-sized, while a hurricane tends to be Texas-sized, and I doubt that the oil slick at its current size is large enough to have a significant impact on a hurricane's intensity. The slick is about 60 miles across, and it would take a hurricane about four hours to traverse the spill at a typical hurricane forward speed of 15 mph. Furthermore, the slick is within 50 miles land, and interactions with land will dominate the behavior of a hurricane that gets that close to the coast. Unfortunately, there is a decent chance that we'll get a real-world opportunity to see what will happen. June tropical storms tend to form in the Gulf of Mexico, and we've been averaging one June storm every two years since 1995. This year, the odds of a June Gulf of Mexico storm are probably a little lower than usual, shear from our lingering El NiƱo may bring wind shear levels a bit above average. I expect there is a 20% chance that we'll see a June tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico that would interact with the oil spill.

References
Barenblatt, G.I, A.J. Chorin, and V.M. Prostokishin, 2005, A note concerning the Lighthill sandwich model of tropical cyclones, PNAS August 9, 2005 vol. 102 no. 32 11148-11150 doi: 10.1073/pnas.0505209102.

Hunt, J.C.R, and I. Eames, 2006, Mechanics of inhomogeneous turbulence and interfacial layers,, Journal of Fluid Dynamics, vol. 554, pp. 499519 doi:10.1017/S002211200600944X.

Scott, J.C., 1986, "The Effect of Organic Films on Water Surface Motions," in Oceanic Whitecaps, edited by E. C. Monohan and G. Mac Niocaill, D. Reidel Publishing Company.

Scott, J.C., 1999, Ocean Surface Slicks - "Pollution, Productivity, Climate and Life-saving", IEEE Proceedings of the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symp. IGARSS99, Hamburg, Germany, 28 June-2 July 1999, vol. 3, pp 1463-1468, 1999.

Wyckoff, A.B., 1886, The Use of Oil in Storms at Sea, American Philosophical Society, April 2, 1886.

http://www.archive.org/stream/proceedingsofamep23 amer/proceedingsofamep23amer_djvu.txt

First tropical wave of the season leaves the coast of Africa
Yesterday, the National Hurricane Center noted the first tropical wave of the year coming off the coast of Africa in their Tropical Weather Discussion. The first half of May is the typical time when the first tropical wave comes off the coast of Africa. The wave is currently positioned in the far eastern Atlantic near 5N 45W, and I don't expect it to develop, since it is too close to the Equator to leverage the Earth's spin to gain the rotation needed. The wave has quickly been joined by two new ones today, located at 15W and 36W off the African coast. Tropical waves serve as the seed that form most Atlantic and Eastern Pacific hurricanes.

Portlight delivers major aid shipment to Haiti
Portlight continues to focus its energy and funds on the situation in Haiti, where the rainy season is fast approaching the needs for shelter, medical supplies, food and water remain urgent. Their latest effort was a shipment of several thousand pounds of Durable Medical Equipment and 30,000 pounds of rice that arrived this week via the schooner Halie and Mathew.

Portlight.org is also preparing to respond the the Gulf Coast oil spill by deploying one of more mobile kitchens to feed the hundreds of volunteers likely to flood the coast when the oil finally comes ashore. Please visit the Portlight.org web site or the Portlight blog to learn more and to donate to Portlight's efforts in Haiti and the Gulf Coast.


Figure 2. Relief supplies from the schooner Halie and Mathew sitting at the Portlight Haiti warehouse, ready for distribution.

Next Post
I'm on my way to Tucson today for the American Meteorological Society's 29th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, which will be held in Tucson next week. My next post will probably be on Monday night, when I plan to discuss the record SSTs observed last month in the tropical Atlantic. I'm excited to be catching up on and blogging about all the latest advancements in hurricane research!

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 1343 - 1293

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49Blog Index

1343. barbamz
Quoting atmoaggie:

Very large zoom of the MS delta area here: http://cyclops.marine.usf.edu/modis/level3/husf/mriver/2010/129/250m/pass/final/MODIS. 2010129.19062 9.mriver.rgb.png
WARNING: large image

Ehh, about the same size as the one in your link


Your version is better to see the extent to the west. Here a smaller pic.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Dakster:
Aussiestorm,

To my knowledge you are correct that most lakes do not have a dike around them. (at least most lakes I have seen while visiting other areas of the country, I am sure someone will chime in exceptions - I am talking about as a whole)

Besides the already mentioned Hurricane threat it is our backup fresh water supply. With the exploding population in South Florida, "we" had to figure out a way to have enough fresh water... Can't exactly go to the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico to get a drink.


Here in Texas, we only have one natural lake, Caddo Lake. All the rest of our 'lakes' are manmade reservoirs built by daming up riverbeds. They don't necessarily have a dike around them, but most do have a dike on the downriver end where the dam is.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Bordonaro:


Good afternoon, how is the slice of peanut-buttered bread doing today?

I am wearing my winter jacket here on my back porch in Arlington, TX. It's 64F, to me this is freezing cold, considering we were up near 90F all week!

Doing okay, myself. Wish it were as cool as up there, but at least the warm is a bit dryer.

Been getting after the yardwork all day...visiting here on breaks.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Quoting atmoaggie:

Very large zoom of the MS delta area here: http://cyclops.marine.usf.edu/modis/level3/husf/mriver/2010/129/250m/pass/final/MODIS.2010129.19062 9.mriver.rgb.png
WARNING: large image

Ehh, about the same size as the one in your link


Good afternoon, how is the slice of peanut-buttered bread doing today?

I am wearing my winter jacket here on my back porch in Arlington, TX. It's 64F, to me this is freezing cold, considering we were up near 90F all week!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
OMG i this downlode window XP mode and it works
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Recent picture from "E" the Icelandic Monster:
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting barbamz:
Oil spill, just caught by aqua modis:

http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/realtime/single.php?2010129/crefl2_143.A2010129190500-2010129191 000.250m.jpg

Very large zoom of the MS delta area here: http://cyclops.marine.usf.edu/modis/level3/husf/mriver/2010/129/250m/pass/final/MODIS.2010129.19062 9.mriver.rgb.png
WARNING: large image

Ehh, about the same size as the one in your link
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


Mid-Level Lapse Rates across KS and OK give the possibility of 4 inch in diamter Hail. Wind Shear in excess of 60 knots and EHI values near 6.0 give the threat for a massive Tornado Outbreak, with several EF-5's possible.

I am trying to be "conservative". By the grace of God, I called the last several tornado outbreak totals very close to what actually occurred.

I must admit, it would not surprise me to see about 40 tornadoes tomorrow. It would not surprise me to see an EF-5 long track twister either. Right now, I don't feel the need to "hype-cast", or I may be called "Joe Bastardi, JR".
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
1331. leo305
Miami just hit 94 breaking yet another record high..

the forecast was 90 for today
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
afternoon all!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
#1328.. Tomorrow, I believe there will be a fairly large tornado outbreak. I expect about 20 individual tornadoes, maybe more, in OK into KS, with about 3 of them EF-3 or larger.

Plus large hail >1.5" and lots of strong wind reports.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
1327. afj3
No pun intended (and this is horrible) but things are looking up!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
GFS predicting something to spring up 192 hours out on the 17th, but I don't see anything anymore on the NOGAPS.. gotta have consistency.

However, if the GFS keeps it w/ consistency for the next 2 days and then the models start jumping on board.. the chances drastically raise for a system in the Caribbean in the 17th - 23rd time frame.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23017
i'm doing good too WinterAnalystwx13...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


Looks like we will miss out on the Severe Weather Event once again...Sad.

May be later next week. Monday will produce about 3 or 4 SERIOUS Tornadoes EF-3 or stronger.

Believe me, we don't need that here in DFW, TX.

Portion of the Area Forecast Discussion from NWS DFW, TX concerning late week storm potential:

THURSDAY THROUGH SATURDAY NIGHT...MODELS BRING A COLD FRONT INTO
THE SOUTHERN PLAINS THURSDAY MORNING. THIS FRONT APPEARS TO STALL
OUT OVER THE CWA AND SERVE AS A FOCUS FOR TSTM INITIATION. DAILY
TSTM CHANCES WILL BE HIGHLY DEPENDENT ON WHERE THE BEST TSTM
ACTIVITY DEVELOPS ON EACH PREVIOUS DAY...THEREFORE WILL ONLY
MAINTAIN A BROAD BRUSHED 30 POP FOR NOW. CERTAINLY SUFFICIENT
CAPE/SHEAR FOR SOME SEVERE WEATHER DURING THE PERIOD BUT IT
REMAINS DIFFICULT TO PINPOINT ANY ONE DAY AS HAVING MORE OF A
THREAT THAN ANY OTHER AT THIS TIME. WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR A
STALLED OUT FRONTAL BOUNDARY MOVING AROUND DEPENDING ON WHERE
CONVECTION SETS UP EACH DAY AND PERSISTENT SOUTHWEST FLOW
ALOFT...CONCERN IS BECOMING HIGHER REGARDING HEAVY
RAINFALL/FLOODING POTENTIAL. THE REGION HAS NOT HAD A LOT OF
RAINFALL RECENTLY...HOWEVER PWATS LOOK TO CLIMB ABOVE 1.5 INCHES
FOR AT LEAST 48 HRS. RAINFALL PROCESSES ARE EXPECTED TO BE VERY
EFFICIENT AND AREAS THAT RECEIVE ANY TRAINING OF STORMS WOULD
THEREFORE SEEM TO HAVE SOME FLOODING POTENTIAL. UNTIL DAILY TSTM
CHANCES CAN BE BETTER RESOLVED WILL HOLD OFF ON SPECIFIC MENTION
OF SVR WX AND FLOODING DURING THE PERIOD IN THE HWO.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Checking in really quickly. A cluster of waves is now emerging off of Africa. I will be checking in later this evening.



Perhaps it'll develop. 6Z GFS had something interesting inthe Carribean...

Link: http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/namer/gfs/06/images/gfs_pcp_240m.gif

Near Cuba at 228-240 hours out...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting afj3:
Hello All!
Have been away from computer for a while and am at work so can't search news: Any latest forecasts for Atlantic basin activity this year? Upward revisions? Downward?

Thanks!


The latest forecast was from NCSU was 15-18 named and 8-11 hurricanes. So upward.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23017
Good afternoon folks, watching "E", our Icelandic Volcano continues her ash/sulfur dioxide party, web cams are awesome:
HVO cam: Link
POR cam: Link
Link to "Eruptions Blog": Link
BP is trying a new strategy to stop the oil spill, link to article:
Link
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
1315. afj3
Hello All!
Have been away from computer for a while and am at work so can't search news: Any latest forecasts for Atlantic basin activity this year? Upward revisions? Downward?

Thanks!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
good afternoon WinterAnalystwx13...how are you
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1312. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1310

things happen in but a blink of an eye
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52404
Quoting Patrap:
Had the opportunity to speak with NHC Forecaster Specialist Avila the day after QuikSCAT failed in November.

Was a cool conversation,..


I met Avila last year, he goes to the gym where I work at!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1310. Patrap



Inferno on the Gulf: Witnesses recount rig blast




by Allen G. Breed and Kevin McGill / Associated Press

wwltv.com

Posted on May 9, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Updated today at 12:30 PM

VENICE, La. -- Oleander Benton was chatting with a friend in the laundry when the lights went out. The other woman had just gotten up to find a maintenance person when the deep-sea oil rig shook with an ear-shattering "BANG," followed by a long, loud "hisssss."

Benton's safety training kicked in. The cook hit the floor as ceiling tiles and light fixtures came crashing down on her head and back. The concussion had blown a door off its hinges and pinned her friend to the floor.

"My leg! My leg!" the woman screamed.

Benton rose to her feet, and stepped over the debris, but she couldn't move the door. She told her friend to lie flat and slide herself out, and the two made their way into the darkened hallway, where a man in a white T-shirt appeared out of the swirling dust and beckoned.

"Come on, Miss O!" he shouted. "Go this way. This is the real deal! This is the REAL DEAL!"

After a carnival funhouse journey through halls illuminated only by "EXIT" signs, and clogged with dazed and injured people, Benton emerged onto the deck of the Deepwater Horizon.

Fire and mud were spewing from the rig's shattered 242-foot derrick. People with ghastly head wounds were scrambling about.

Many had been asleep when the blast occurred, and wandered the slick, debris-strewn deck shoeless, clad in little more than their orange lifejackets, their bare skin speckled with bits of white insulation from blown-out walls.

Benton slipped and stumbled as she headed for her assigned lifeboat.

As a worker checked off names, Benton was transported back five years to Hurricane Katrina.

She had spent five hellish days in the swelter of the Louisiana Superdome. That was the last time she had felt this kind of heat, this kind of terror.

It was April 20 -- Benton's 52nd birthday.

------

With its complement of 126 riggers, contractors and support personnel, the Deepwater Horizon -- floating 48 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico -- had a population larger than that of at least a half-dozen Louisiana towns. This "floatel" had a gymnasium, movie theater, lounge, helicopter pad -- just about everything a small city would need.

April 20 was a big day for BP PLC and the rig's inhabitants.

The day before, contractors from Halliburton Energy Services Inc. had finished cementing the well's pipes nearly 5,000 feet below the water's surface. Workers were busy setting a second seal at the well head, one of the last steps before the rig could move off, and the exploration well -- in an area of the Gulf known as Mississippi Canyon Block 252 -- could make the transition to a production well.

BP executives were on board to celebrate that milestone and another achievement -- Deepwater Horizon was the first rig to go seven years without a lost-time accident. They were gathered in the living quarters just below the working deck when an enormous bubble of explosive methane gas erupted from the sea floor and rocketed up the drill pipe's 21-inch metal sheath toward the surface.

It was around 10 p.m.

Crane operator Micah Sandell, 40, of Leesville, La., was in the cab 30 feet off the deck when he saw the water and mud shoot up and out of the derrick. He knew immediately it was a blowout, and he got on the radio to tell the crew to move to the front of the rig.

When the gushing stopped after a few minutes, Sandell took a deep breath.

"Oh, good," he said to himself. "They got it under control." Suddenly, vapor and spray began shooting out of a goosenecked pipe on the starboard side of the deck, followed by thick, black smoke. Sandell quickly shut off his air conditioner to avoid sucking any noxious fumes into the cab.

Then something exploded.

Sandell was knocked to the floor, and fire engulfed the cabin. Certain he was about to die, the devout Baptist clapped his hands over his head and cried, "Oh, God. No."

But after a few seconds, he stood up and realized the fireball had passed him over. He made it halfway down the stairs before another blast occurred, throwing him 15 feet to the steel deck.

He got up again and ran, feeling his way along the deck rail around the port side toward the lifeboats.

------

Marine biology student Albert Andry III and three high school buddies had come to the Deepwater Horizon for a couple leisurely days of tuna fishing and beer drinking. It turned out to be anything but leisurely.

The group had left Venice around 3 p.m. in Andry's 26-foot catamaran, the Endorfin, and had spent the afternoon fishing for blackfin near BP's Amberjack Rig 109 near the South Pass of the Mississippi River. Andry's radar had been stolen recently, so when they'd landed enough fish, the 23-year-old from Mandeville, La., headed for the Deepwater Horizon, where they would idle overnight.

The men arrived at sunset. The water was smooth as glass and teeming with jellyfish, their translucent blue and white "sails" erect in the light breeze.

They were fishing for bait under the lip of the platform when water began raining down from the rig's network of pipes -- so much that Andry thought the crew was dumping the bilges to keep the Deepwatwer Horizon from sinking. Andry's eyes began to burn, and buddy Wes Bourg -- who had worked on offshore rigs -- told the skipper they needed to get out of there. Fast.

"Go, go, go, go, GOOOOO!" Bourg shouted. With no radar and only the light of a crescent moon to see by, Andry pointed the bow north, gunned the twin 140-horsepower Suzuki outboards and hit the deck.

They were about 100 yards from the Deepwater Horizon when the lights went out, and the first of a series of massive booms shook the rig.

The lifeboats hanging off the side of the rig were covered and could hold up to 50 people each. Crew members with clipboards called out names as people clambered aboard.

As Sandell stood in line awaiting his turn, panicked workers were screaming to get the boats in the water, even though they were not yet full.

"Drop them off!"

"Get them away!"

Some couldn't wait any longer, and jumped.

It was 80 feet to the water. A person falling from that height would take about 2.25 seconds to hit the water and experience about 20 Gs -- roughly the same force as a car hitting a brick wall at 55 mph.

------

In Port Fourchon harbor, the service vessel Joe Griffin was tied up at the Halliburton slip. Capt. Nate Foster was standing on the bridge shortly before 11 p.m. when the radio crackled to life.

"We need you to get out there as fast as you can," the dispatcher barked. "We have people in the water."

The orange-hulled vessel is primarily a supply ship, and much of its 280-foot length is comprised of open deck space. But the Joe Griffin is also equipped with two water cannons, each capable of shooting 5,000 gallons of water per minute.

Foster picked up the ship's phone and called the engine room.

"I want the engines started," the 37-year-old Montanan told the oiler. "We need 'em NOW. Don't let them warm up."

Then he got on the radio to the crew.

"Get ready to cast off right now," he said. "We need to leave immediately."

A process that normally takes 20 minutes was accomplished in fewer than five.

The Joe Griffin backed out of the slip and steamed out of the harbor at 10 knots -- more than double the normal speed. As the vessel entered open water, Foster opened the throttle all the way, to 12 knots.

At that speed, it would take nine and a half hours to reach the Deepwater Horizon. Foster knew he'd be thinking the whole time of people in the water.

The 260-foot Damon B. Bankston, a black-hulled cargo vessel, was tethered to the Deepwater Horizon. That day, it had been pumping drilling mud from the rig for use at the next job.

The first explosion threw Seaman Elton Johnson of Bunkie, La., about seven feet into an engine-room door, temporarily knocking him unconscious. When he came to, he staggered to the deck and looked over the rail to see people floating in the water.

Like the rest of the crew, Johnson began fishing out survivors.

By the glow of the inferno, Andry could see people swimming and motoring toward the Bankston. He got on his radio and asked whether he could approach the rig and join in the rescue effort.

"Negative. Negative," came the reply.

Bourg said there could be damaged pipes under the water. So the group decided to back off a mile to wait, and watch.

On the Deepwater Horizon, deck pusher Bill Johnson, supervising operations on the deck, worked his way across the rig, acrid smoke burning his lungs. He ushered two members of his crew into a lifeboat and shoved off, but there was one man missing.

------

Crane operator Aaron Dale Burkeen of Philadelphia, Miss., had relieved Sandell for dinner. The starboard crane had been down. He finished changing out the cable and began making up for the lost time.

The 37-year-old father of two had just recently received his 10-year certificate from Transocean, the rig's owner (BP was its operator). April 20 was his and wife Rhonda's eighth wedding anniversary; his birthday was four days away.

When the first concussion hit, he began the process of lowering his crane's 150-foot boom into its cradle and locking it down. He got it to about a 30-degree angle when he decided to make a run for it.

He was about halfway down the spiral staircase when a massive explosion occurred. Johnson -- who was not just Burkeen's direct supervisor, but also one of his best friends -- watched helplessly from the rocking boat as the whole starboard side of the rig erupted in a cloud of smoke and flame.

Burkeen just vanished.

Andry had lingered at the site, sweeping the water with his flood lights for survivors. After about four hours and running low on fuel, he decided to head back to port.

The Joe Griffin was still 35 miles out when the crew saw it -- a glow on the horizon like a mini-sunrise.

Twenty minutes out, Capt. Foster ordered the crew to fire up the water cannon pumps. When the vessel arrived at the scene around 8:30 a.m., flames were shooting several hundred feet into the air, and oil was raining down on the two-dozen or so boats trying to fight the fire and ferry survivors.

The rig was engulfed and listing to one side.

The Deepwater Horizon was not anchored to the bottom with cables, but was "dynamically positioned" -- held in place by eight 7,375-horsepower thrusters that worked in a computer-coordinated water ballet to keep her above the well head nearly a mile below.

With no power and no people to operate the thrusters, the drill pipe and its casing were the only things holding the rig in place. The Deepwater Horizon was at the mercy of the wind and waves, and Foster and the other rescue boat captains had to perform evasive maneuvers to keep from being rammed by the flaming hulk.

Even through the glass windows and protective shell of the bridge, First Mate Doug Peake could feel the inferno's heat on his skin. As he trained the cannon on the fire, he thought to himself: "This is a lost cause."

------

A little way off, Sandell stood on the Bankston's plank deck and watched the rig that had been his home for the past eight years pitch and burn. Back in his room on the Deepwater Horizon was the white gold wedding band his wife Angela slipped on his finger 17 years ago.

He wanted desperately to call home and tell his wife and their three children that he was alive. There were satellite phones on board, but the workers were not allowed to use them.

Finally, at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the Bankston headed back to port. Sandell closed his eyes and said a prayer.

When Sandell arrived at Port Fourchon early the next morning, he still hadn't slept. Eleven rig workers were unaccounted for, including Aaron Dale Burkeen.

Even as the Deepwater Horizon was in its last throes before sinking beneath the Gulf, speculation was already rampant about what had caused the explosion. Was it negligence? A freak accident? Foul play?

Sandell and the others just wanted to go ashore and call loved ones. But there was one more thing to do next.

As he debarked, he noticed some Coast Guard and company officers sitting at a table, a row of portable toilets behind them. Before they left the docks, the workers would have to be drug tested.

Tired and angry, Sandell stood in line and filled out forms. When his turn came, he took the plastic cup, stepped inside one of the outhouses, and closed the door behind him.

------

Associated Press Writers Harry R. Weber, Pauline Arrillaga, Curt Anderson, Mitch Weiss, Michael Kunzelman and Noaki Schwartz contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125736
afternoon everyone..just getting back from orange beach..no oil yet (thank goodness) i hate it for Daulphin Isl though...it's just a matter of time till it gets over here.....just trying to catch up on the blog and i'm taking it that there might be something brewing in the carrib?? any real thought to this or is just speculation?? and also hi to all the regs on here...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1308. JamesSA
I am afraid it is already a major disaster, and now we are hoping it does not become a cataclysmic one. It is a very sad turn of events.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1307. beell
BP / Gulf Oil Spill - How Big Is It?/skytruth.org
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1306. Patrap


Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response

www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com

View Latest Press Briefing
Latest Information

* May 09, 2010
PHOTO/VIDEO RELEASE: BP contracted local workers place oil containment booms
* May 09, 2010
Media Advisory: Unified Incident Command, Mobile, Ala. to hold press briefing




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125736
1305. dxdy
Thanks for the article Dr. Masters, let's hope this event doesn't turn into a major disaster.

This oil leak is huge:
http://img72.imageshack.us/img72/5104/spillnasamay8.jpg

What is the chance of a hurricane picking up the oil into the clouds and raining down black rain inland? Does anyone know?

BP's first attempt at stopping the leak has failed, and I know that a lot of people are getting worried about this now...all the the what if's...

Here's to hopping they get it capped and all the mess cleaned up quickly.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Checking in really quickly. A cluster of waves is now emerging off of Africa. I will be checking in later this evening.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting pottery:
Good afternoon all.
Good to see Kman and 456 keeping an eye on things (along with the rest of you too!)
More humid here today (armpits are drooling) but no rain at all. In spite of various forecasts that called for showers this weekend it is still hot with no real break in sight.
(I know, I know, IT is coming)

The ITCZ is "cooking" with a potpourri of Tropical waves traveling towards Trinidad and Tobago. The Calabash tree is patiently conserving her moisture sources and the rain IS coming.

You sound like me, in TX the rain stops in June, like God turned off the faucet in Heaven. After 60-75 days of watching thunderstorms dance all around your "lovely Sub-Tropical ridge", I get antsy!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
The Tennessee Titans have announced they are giving 400 thousand dollars for flood relief... well done Bud!
Member Since: September 23, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 2428
Quoting kmanislander:
I am also out for now. I have a few things to do before Monday morning. Will be back from time to time as we get closer to June 1st.

Have a great afternoon.


Peace Kman
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:
Good afternoon all.
Good to see Kman and 456 keeping an eye on things (along with the rest of you too!)
More humid here today (armpits are drooling) but no rain at all. In spite of various forecasts that called for showers this weekend it is still hot with no real break in sight.
(I know, I know, IT is coming)


Hi there. Just signed off but jumped back in to acknowledge your greeting. We will catch up soon. Take care of the calabash tree we may need to rely on it this year LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kmanislander:
No fun at all. The a/c is running 24/7.

Winds have been hot and dry out of the SE for weeks now. Water temps in our area are approaching the 84 degree mark.


I know how that is. Its gotten to the point to where we have to run the A/C 24/7 as well. The energy bills don't help either. lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1298. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
well the place is clearing out later guys
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52404
Quoting mobilegirl81:
I know.Keep wondering when im going to wake up from this bad dream.

I think this will be one long bad Dream if you know what I mean...
With no end in site....
Just wondering if you have made it down to the Island?
I'm going to try if they let me so I can take some pictures.

Taco :o(
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I am also out for now. I have a few things to do before Monday morning. Will be back from time to time as we get closer to June 1st.

Have a great afternoon.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1295. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Weather456:
The 2010 hurricane season outlook is available on my blog for download.

See you all a little later.
later 456
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52404
1294. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting kmanislander:


I have always tried to find multiple data sets to support my position before posting and even then we all know how wrong we can be at times.

There is no denying that QS was a great asset to have but what's done is done.

true enough
we will get by
lots of eyes watchin
only draw back is
it may take a little longer
before a storm is confirmed to have a closed coc
but its only one of many things that can be used to determine a tropical system we should be just fine and NHC NOAA NAVY will have access to the indian info just not the public hopefully
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52404
1293. pottery
Good afternoon all.
Good to see Kman and 456 keeping an eye on things (along with the rest of you too!)
More humid here today (armpits are drooling) but no rain at all. In spite of various forecasts that called for showers this weekend it is still hot with no real break in sight.
(I know, I know, IT is coming)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 1343 - 1293

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.