May 25, 2010

Light winds, waves forecast over oil slick this week

As a hybrid storm gathers strength along the southern Atlantic coast this week, winds and waves will remain light over much of the Gulf of Mexico.

A persistent flow from the east and southeast brought a big part of the oil slick along the Louisiana coast during the past couple of weeks.

Light winds also allowed some of the slick to be captured in the Loop Current. The latest indications are that the narrow band that was drawn into the current had broken up into much smaller patches.

However, these remnant, small patches of non-evaporated oil could be carried great distances by the Loop Current and other smaller eddies and could show up anywhere on the Gulf Coast with time.

Hoards of thick goo have been washing up on the shores of Louisiana and have been drawn into marshes, which have been acting like a sponge.

The damage to the environment and commerce in the region is just beginning as thousands of gallons of oil continue to blast into the north-central Gulf of Mexico daily.

Booms, which have been deployed in great numbers, may work satisfactorily in calm waters. However, the booms greatly lose efficiency in average to stormy seas.

According to the Associated Press, this week British Petroleum (BP) was expected to try a "top kill" method of stopping the leaking oil by shooting heavy mud into the well, followed by cement.

The process could take up to several weeks to complete and has never been attempted at a depth of 5,000 feet before.

If the attempt fails, then the method of shooting "junk shot" (golf balls, pieces of tires, knotted rope, etc.) into the blowout preventer device of the collapsed rig will be tried.

BP was also planning to test a device designed by actor Kevin Costner and business partner John Houghtaling II to vacuum up the oil slick. The devices, which vary in size, could be deployed in significant numbers.

The weather will cooperate for containment and clean-up operations this week. However, the clock is ticking as evidenced by the storm spinning off the southern Atlantic coast this week.

The Gulf of Mexico could be the next place for a large storm to target in the weeks ahead.

Story by Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski

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