Friday, November 6, 2009

Hurricane Watch: "Storm may threaten oil output. Really?"

From the Houston Chronicle:
Storm graphic Nov 2009.jpg
Looks stormy, says AccuWeather.

It's a bit ironic that we go through one of the quietest Gulf hurricane seasons in years with very little storm-related curtailment of oil and gas production, yet today we get this news from AccuWeather:

State College, Pa. -- 6 November 2009 --'s reports two storms are stirring up weather in the Gulf of Mexico that will affect the production of the energy industry beginning Saturday and continuing into Monday....MORE

Here are the model storm track projections from Dr. Jeff Masters' Wunderblog:

And his commentary:
...The forecast for Ida
Ida will dump another 1 - 2 inches of rain over northeastern Honduras today. The Cayman Islands, Belize, and the rest of the Honduras coast can expect occasional heavy rains of 1 - 4 inches over the next two days as spiral bands from Ida bring squally weather. Much heavier rains of 4 - 8 inches are likely to affect Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and Western Cuba beginning Saturday, as Ida heads north towards the Yucatan Channel. Higher rain amounts may occur if Ida intensifies more than forecast.

Figure 2. Total heat content of the ocean (the Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential, TCHP) for November 4, 2005 compared to November 4, 2009. TCHP values in excess of 80 - 90 kJ/cm^2 (yellow, orange, and red colors) are often associated with rapid intensification of hurricanes. This year has higher heat content in the Western Caribbean than the record-breaking Hurricane Season of 2005. The higher heat content this year is partially because we haven't had any tropical cyclone activity in the Western Caribbean, while 2005 had some record strong storms--particularly Hurricane Wilma--that churned up cold water from the depths. Image credit: NOAA/AOML.

Moderate wind shear of 15 - 20 knots and warm waters await await Ida when it emerges over the Western Caribbean tonight, and some modest strengthening is likely. It is a concern that Ida could reach Category 1 hurricane strength before it reaches the Yucatan, as the total heat content of the ocean in the Western Caribbean is very high this year (Figure 2). However, given Ida's current disorganized state and the presence of 15 - 20 knots of shear, the odds of the storm reaching hurricane strength before passing the Yucatan on Sunday night are probably low, less than 30%....MORE