tagged w/ National Hurricane Center
According to a majority of the hurricane season forecasts released, the 2010 season is suppose to rival the top seasons on record, but so far there is no comparison at least in terms of the number of named storms through July 20th.According to a majority of the hurricane season forecasts released, the 2010 season is... more
Hurricane Alex with a well defined eye signature has continued to intensify as it neared landfall Wednesday evening, becoming the strongest hurricane in over 40 years in terms of winds and the strongest in over 50 years in terms of pressure!Hurricane Alex with a well defined eye signature has continued to intensify as it... more
Tar balls reported on Mississippi mainland; Alex heads into Gulf
By the CNN Wire Staff
June 27, 2010 10:58 p.m. EDT
(CNN) -- Mississippi officials reported oily tar balls washing up on their mainland shores for the first time Sunday, as authorities throughout the Gulf Coast region kept a wary eye on Tropical Storm Alex.
"It has hit our shores," said Pascagoula, Mississippi, Mayor Robbie Maxwell, adding that tar balls washed up on a nearby stretch of beach during the afternoon Sunday.
"This is what we've been expecting. We had hoped and prayed we would somehow miss this, but it's hit us now. The good news is that for the last five or six weeks we've been preparing to attack it when it hit our shores, and that's exactly what we've done," Maxwell said.
A 23-person crew was out on the beach Sunday afternoon, collecting tar balls, he said.
"Now that we have it on our shores, every day it'll have to be attacked again," the mayor added.
Mississippi officials said while tar balls and glob-like "mousse patties" washed ashore in at least four locations, the areas affected were relatively small and no beaches were closed.
Meanwhile, Alex restrengthened into a Tropical Storm Sunday night as it headed into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Weather Service but it is expected to steer clear of oil-affected areas. The storm had temporarily weakened to a tropical depression as it passed over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
"We think the storm is going to stay on a more southern track. That would be good news because it would avoid the area near the oil spill," said Todd Kimberlain of the National Hurricane Center.
However, forecasters have not ruled out an easterly shift in Alex's path.
"We all know the weather is unpredictable, and we could have a sudden last-minute change," said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's response manager.
The governors of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama declared Sunday a day of prayer in their respective states as efforts to cap the massive gusher continue.
Researchers have estimated that between 35,000 barrels -- about 1.5 million gallons -- and 60,000 barrels -- about 2.5 million gallons -- of oil are gushing into the ocean every day.
If Alex forces a work stoppage at the ruptured BP well, officials fear that as much as 2.5 million gallons of oil could flow into the Gulf for two weeks.
That is because it would take 14 days to put everything back in place -- meaning the containment cap would be off for that period, allowing oil to flow freely, Allen said.
BP plans to place a third rig called the Helix Producer at the well site next week, which will increase the amount of oil being captured to 53,000 barrels a day, Allen said. That, too, could be disrupted if Alex affects the area.
Alex is the first named storm of what is expected to be a fierce Atlantic hurricane season. It formed in the Caribbean on Saturday.
Tropical storm warnings for the coast of Belize and the east coast of the Yucatan were discontinued earlier Sunday, the hurricane center said. Alex soaked Belize after making landfall in the Central American nation several hours earlier with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.
After dropping in wind speed over the Yucatan, Alex's winds increased to 45 mph with higher gusts Sunday night, the National Hurricane Center said. The system was moving west-northwest at near 7 mph.
"Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Alex could become a hurricane in the next 48 hours," the hurricane center said. Alex is expected to make landfall Thursday morning near La Pesca, Mexico.
In the meantime, forecasters said Sunday that Alex was expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of rain over the Yucatan peninsula, southern Mexico and Guatemala through Tuesday, with 15 inches possible over mountainous areas.
"These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the hurricane center said.
Oil company BP said the storm has not forced any evacuations at the oil spill site. But, to the south, BP and Shell were evacuating all nonessential personnel from oil platforms as a precaution.
Gulf Coast residents feared that high winds and storm surges could spread the slick and push more oil ashore into bays, estuaries and pristine beaches, exacerbating the oil disaster triggered by BP's ruptured well.
"The greatest nightmare with this storm approaching is that it takes this oil on the surface of the Gulf and blows it over the barrier islands into the bays and the estuaries," Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida said. "And that is where you really get the enormous destruction, because it's just very difficult to clean up those pristine bays."
If the storm heads to the east of the oil spill, it would send the oil farther out to sea.
If the storm heads more directly toward the central Gulf and Louisiana, it might push the oil toward Florida.
"We've never been in this situation before," CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis said. "We've never seen an oil spill that encompassed the Gulf like this, end up so close to shore."
CNN's April Williams, Patty Lane, Chuck Johnston, Brandon Miller, T.J. Holmes and Moni Basu contributed to this report.Tar balls reported on Mississippi mainland; Alex heads into Gulf
By the CNN Wire... more
Alex moves into Gulf of Mexico
Tropical storm regains strength, may become hurricane
updated 6/27/2010 11:01:57 PM ET
BELIZE CITY — Forecasters say Alex is again a tropical storm as it moved into the Gulf of Mexico and may become a hurricane as it swirls toward Mexico's east coast.
Forecasters say the storm's direction is not on track to hit the BP oil spill on the northeastern end of the Gulf. Maximum sustained winds Sunday night were 45 mph.
Alex had weakened to a depression across Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. It dumped rains that left at least four people dead across the region.
But the warmer Gulf waters added energy to the storm.
Officials at the National Hurricane Center say Alex is expected to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain over the peninsula, southern Mexico and Guatemala through Tuesday. Up to 15 inches are possible over the mountains. The rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
On Saturday, Alex soaked parts of Central America and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula with torrential downpours, killing four people and forcing hundreds of tourists to flee resort islands. Winds were at 60 mph when the storm made landfall in Belize on Saturday night but had decreased to 35 mph by Sunday morning.
The heavy rains prompted a landslide in northwestern Guatemala that dislodged a large rock outcropping, killing two men who had taken shelter from the storm underneath, said officials from the national disaster-response agency.
In El Salvador, Civil Protection chief Jorge Melendez said two people were swept away by rivers that jumped their banks. About 500 people were evacuated from their homes.
Authorities in both Guatemala and Belize were keeping an eye on rising river levels. One bridge in western Belize was swamped entirely, cutting off a remote Mennonite community. Seven homes in the Belize River Valley, outside Belize City, had their roofs blown off, and at least one structure collapsed.
Belize officials opened storm shelters in the island tourist resort of San Pedro, as 1,400 people fled for the mainland by plane and by boat.
But the country apparently avoided major damage, and emergency coordinator Noreen Fairweather said on national radio that there were no reports of injuries. People who took refuge in storm shelters were returning home.
Along Mexico's resort-studded Caribbean coast, officials warned tourists to stay out of rough surf kicked up by the storm. But there were no immediate reports of damage to popular beach destinations such as Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen or Tulum.
Now all eyes are on the Gulf of Mexico.
When Alex became the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, officials immediately worried what effect it could have on efforts to contain the millions of gallons of crude spewing into the Gulf.
A cap has been placed over the blown-out undersea well, directing some of the oil to a surface ship where it is being collected or burned. Other ships are drilling two relief wells, projected to be done by August, which are considered the best hope to stop the leak.
For the time being, the storm appears likely to miss the oil-slicked region and make landfall in Mexico, apparently in Tamaulipas state — but meteorologists warned that a storm's track can quickly change.
Alex was centered about 85 miles south of Campeche, Mexico, on Sunday.
Meanwhile in the Pacific, once-powerful hurricanes Celia and Darby weakened to tropical storms and did not pose a threat to land.Alex moves into Gulf of Mexico
Tropical storm regains strength, may become hurricane... more
While BP PLC is on the way to double its efforts on the amount of oil collected from Gulf of Mexico, the Tropical Storm Alex is threatening to interrupt the plans for up to 14 days.While BP PLC is on the way to double its efforts on the amount of oil collected from... more
Video explanations really worth watching...
Weather could push oil spill farther along Florida's beaches
By the CNN Wire Staff
June 25, 2010 7:38 p.m. EDT
New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) -- The disaster thousands of feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico may be exacerbated by a different type of calamity in the coming week -- tropical weather -- that could push the oil farther along Florida's pristine panhandle beaches.
It all depends up whether a weather system now brewing off Honduras grows in intensity, possibly to a tropical cyclone, and where it heads. The National Hurricane Center upgraded the system to a tropical depression late Friday -- the first of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Meanwhile, there been some promising news for potentially tens of thousands of people seeking claims against BP.
Kenneth Feinberg, who is administering the $20 billion fund set up by BP under White House prodding, says that people who work in support of oil rigs will be able to file claims -- and not just fishermen and businesses along the coast. Employees of businesses that brings tools to oil rigs, for example, also would be able to file a claim.
The company previously agreed to set aside the $20 billion in an escrow account for spill-related costs, a sum that does not cover fees and penalties that could be imposed by the federal government.
BP had resisted approving claims by people who said they were affected by the moratorium on oil drilling, saying it was imposed by the Obama administration. But Feinberg said BP and the adminstration now have agreed those claims will be covered.
"I now have discovered -- I didn't realize this until yesterday, but the moratorium claims will fall under my juridiction," he told CNN.
To date, almost 74,000 claims have been filed and more than 39,000 payments have been made, totaling almost $126 million, according to the company.
As for the weather, the National Hurricane Center said the tropical depression is heading west-northwest and packing winds of 35 miles an hour, with some higher gusts. If it becomes a tropical storm, it will be named Tropical Storm Alex, the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.
An Air Force "hurricane hunter" plane headed into the storm Friday afternoon to learn more about the weather system.
The tropical depression is centered between the northern coast of Honduras and Grand Cayman and is expected to move northwest, toward the Yucatan Peninsula -- although it's unclear exactly what path it will take.
Meteorologist Karen Maginnis says the "preferred scenario" actually would be for it to head to northern Florida. That's because the oil spill has been gradually rotating counterclockwise. If the storm heads to the east of it, it would send the oil farther out to sea. If the storm heads more directly towards the central Gulf and Louisiana, it might push the oil toward Florida.
Of course, forecasting where oil spills are headed in not easy.
"We're really in unchartered territory," Maginnis said."We've never been in this situation before. We've never seen an oil spill that encompassed the Gulf like this, end up so close to shore."
She noted that the latest models do point to the storm heading to the central Gulf.
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who's heading the federal cleanup operation, says he'll have to redeploy people and equipment to safer areas 120 hours (five days) in advance of gale-force winds.
And he agreed there is "no playbook" when it comes to responding to a massive oil spill as a storm brews. "But I will tell you there's been an extraordinary amount of planning being done," he told CNN. "We are going to try to merge two response structures. One has proven effective in the past, and that's a central coordination of search and rescue and how operations are conducted, and that's done out of Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida for hurricanes. And we are in the process of integrating our planning processes so the oil spill response is integrated fully within the search and rescue recovery operations."
Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Florida, issued a statement Friday saying there needs to be a detailed plan for a "surge" in ships, in case cleanup crews need to abandon their efforts because of a storm, leaving the crude gushing unabated until the weather lets up. In a letter sent Thursday to Allen, Nelson asked whether Navy and other vessels have been identified for prepositioning in order to most quickly respond in the aftermath.
Allen responded, "At the time we would break away is the time you need to be seeking shelter. I understand the need to skim the oil as soon as we can but it's going to be after the storm passes. I don't think anybody wants a vessel out there trying to skim oil with the weather building beyond gale-force winds, so the goal would be to get to a safe quadrant of the hurricane, come in behind it and as soon as we can. We have the ability to do that."
Allen said he and some top Obama administration officials will be headed back to the Gulf region next week to assess the oil relief efforts. He said Vice President Joe Biden would travel to the Unified Command Center in New Orleans and to the Florida panhandle next Tuesday. Also, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and presidential environmental advisor Carol Browner will visit the region "next week," said Allen.
Meanwhile, there has been a promising new development in the effort to permanently stop the leak.
BP said Friday its "ranging" process, by which it sends an electrical current that puts out an electromagnetic field down the well bore, detected Wednesday where the leaking well is in relation to the first relief well, at a depth of 16,275 feet. BP said subsequent ranging runs will be needed to more precisely locate the leaking well and figure out how to best intersect the two.
"What they will do is continue to drill down in short intervals, withdraw the pipe, put that sensing device down and slowly close on the well bore to the point where they're ready to do the intercept drilling. This last part takes some time because they only do several hundred feet at a time." said Allen. "They'll also have a vessel standing by full of mud on the top, so in the event there were to get really close and potentially nick the well bore, they could actually put the mud down to control any hydrocarbons that might come out."
Drilling and ranging operations will continue over the next few weeks toward the target intercept depth of approximately 18,000 feet. "Kill" operations are expected to begin when the relief well reaches the leaking well. BP said drilling also continues on a second relief well, which has reached 10,500 feet.
Costs associated with the Gulf oil disaster have gone up more than $300 million in less than a week, BP said Friday.
"The cost of the response to date amounts to approximately $2.35 billion, including the cost of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to the Gulf states, claims paid and federal costs," a company statement said. BP put the tab at $2 billion on Monday.
Meanwhile, Deepwater drilling could resume by the end of July. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Thursday denied a request to keep a six-month moratorium imposed by President Barack Obama on May 27 in place, pending a government appeal.
The government has 30 days to show it is beginning to comply with Feldman's order and start issuing permits. The appeals process can continue, but until the appeal, the government must act as if Feldman's order will be upheld.
Government lawyers filed an appeal to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday, asking the court to stay Feldman's order pending the appeals.
CNN's Brandon Miller contributed to this reportVideo explanations really worth watching...... more
The 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season has now kicked into gear with the formation of the first tropical depression of the season.The 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season has now kicked into gear with the formation of the... more
The 2010 Alantic Hurricane Season, which begins Tuesday is expected to be an extremely active season that could rank in the top 10 or even the top 5 most active on record since 1900!The 2010 Alantic Hurricane Season, which begins Tuesday is expected to be an extremely... more
The most active hurricane season since 2005 is expected according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Hurricane Center (NHC).The most active hurricane season since 2005 is expected according to the National... more
According to the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), a Washington, D.C. based think tank group, a trained Chimp can do better than the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Hurricane Center (NHC) in predicting hurricanes.According to the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), a Washington,... more
Colorado State University researchers led by Philip Klotzbach and William Gray released their outlook for the 2010 hurricane season, calling for a very active and above average 2010 hurricane season.Colorado State University researchers led by Philip Klotzbach and William Gray... more
The 7th hurricane (Hurricane Rick) of the eastern Pacific Hurricane Season intensifies into the 2nd strongest hurricane on record behind Hurricane Linda in 1997.The 7th hurricane (Hurricane Rick) of the eastern Pacific Hurricane Season... more
The 7th named storm of the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season has formed in the far Northeastern Atlantic Ocean.The 7th named storm of the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season has formed in the far... more
September has turned out to be the calmest month for tropical storms or hurricanes in 13 years and or since 1997.September has turned out to be the calmest month for tropical storms or hurricanes in... more
The peak of hurricane season (September 10th) is quickly approaching and only 4 named storms have occurred, with only one tropical system (Tropical Storm Claudette), making landfall in the United States.The peak of hurricane season (September 10th) is quickly approaching and only 4 named... more
The fourth named storm of the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season forms east of the Bahamas.
On this date four years ago, today (August 23, 2005) a large area of thunderstorms associated with a tropical wave and remnants of tropical depression 10 organized into a broad area of low pressure.On this date four years ago, today (August 23, 2005) a large area of thunderstorms... more