Gulf of Mexico Storm Watch

11am ET update
The National Hurricane Center acknowledges the shifts in the GFDL and HWRF models in its latest (11am ET) discussion, and bumps up the forecast intensity to a minimal hurricane before landfall on the northern Mexico coast on Wednesday. They also highlight the uncertainty in the forecast after the storm after 48 hours. As I noted at 9am, on this track, even with intensification, winds would cause no problem, and wave minimal problems at the DH site. We will have a full production and DH impact analysis later this afternoon.

9am update
The latest (8am) model runs shifting further west, towards the TX/Mexico border and south. On this track and intensity, the Deepwater Horizon site would see 6 foot waves at worst, and no wind. Winds now 40 knots (46mph).

Updated tracking discussion as of 7am ET, Saturday 26 June
TD#1 is now Alex, with 35kt winds. The impact on Gulf production, and especially the Deepwater Horizon (DH) Spill response, are still uncertain, but of increasing concern. The official forecast - backed by several key models - is now showing the storm over the Western Gulf reaching near hurricane intensity by Wednesday evening. How close the storm gets to US Production - and the DH response site - depends on how strong a "ridge" in the atmosphere remains early next week. If it stays in place, the storm will stay towards Mexico. If it weakens somewhat, the NHC track is most likely, if it seriously deteriorates, the tracks in purple come in to play.

Here is the latest tracking (5am ET NHC forecast in red, models as of 7am ET). We will post some possible production impact estimates later today.

Original Post Below the Fold

This is the first post by Chuck Watson (aka methaz), Director of Research and Development for Kinetic Analysis Corporation (KAC). KAC provides detailed impact and risk assessments to a wide variety of commercial and government clients, including most of the Caribbean governments, the UK Overseas Territories, and Bloomberg Business News. Over the last few years Chuck has provided exclusive insights in to the potential impact of storms on energy infrastructure here at The Oil Drum, and this year will be joining us as a contributor to help assess the impact storms may have on our energy infrastructure. - Gail

We now have our first serious threat to the Gulf of Mexico this year, in the form of Tropical Depression 1 (TD #1). The current official forecast is for the storm to hit the Yucatan Peninsula and, if it survives, cross the Bay of Campeche and strike the coast again near the Mexico/Texas border. Some of the more advanced computer models are showing that the system may make a more northward turn and become a strong tropical storm or hurricane after passing over Yucatan, potentially impacting the area of the Deepwater Horizon response. I would caution here that forecasting weak systems is tricky, and track/forecast models have a poor track record on storms at this stage.

That said, here is a map of some of the computer models, as of late Friday afternoon (7pm ET), including the official forecast track in bright red. We should have a better handle on where the storm is going, and if there is serious potential to impact the Gulf production areas or DH spill response, over the weekend. As discussed below, if it turns and strengthens, it could be problematic for the DH response.

If the storm crosses Yucatan directly as per the official Forecast, it should have minimal impact on PEMEX. The waves might cause problems for the DH response, but it is too early to tell. Since we don't really know at this stage if the storm will be a serious threat, I will discuss in general the impact hurricanes have on production in the Gulf, what a storm might do to the oil spill (and vice versa!), what this year might have in store, and what kinds of info we'll try to post here during incoming storms.

Note: This overview of hurricanes and GOMEX oil/gas production is based on research by Dr. Mark Johnson of the University of Central Florida and myself. This year we will be posting comments on incoming storms, forecasts, and results of our ongoing work here at The Oil Drum as conditions warrant.

Hurricanes and GOMEX Oil/Gas Production

Ever since offshore oil and gas production accelerated in the 1970s, hurricanes have been a factor. However, the rapid expansion of offshore production coincided with a period of lower hurricane activity resulting in part from a 20-30 year climate cycle known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). If 2004's Hurricane Ivan was a wake up call, 2005's Katrina and Rita, combined with tight markets, were Mother Nature up-ending the bed and dumping us on the cold hard floor. We are now in a period of higher activity that is likely to last for another 5-10 years.

Hurricanes disrupt Oil/Gas production in two key ways: evacuation and actual damage. Offshore assets must be evacuated well in advance of an incoming storm. Precautionary shut-downs are made to prevent spills in the event platforms, rigs, and undersea pipelines are damaged. Thus, even if a storm completely misses the offshore assets, a storm in the Gulf can cause the loss of 3-5 days of production as crews shut down, evacuate, return, and restore production. Admiral Allen noted in a press conference today they would need to start shutting down the Deepwater Horizon operation 5 days before 34kt winds arrived, and it could take two weeks to resume operations. That seems excessive to me - 3 days evacuation, and 5-7 for recovery seems more in line with historical disruptions, but given the complexity and ad hoc nature of the response equipment may well be true. If 5 days to evacuate number is accurate, this is a serious problem, since 5 day forecasts are notoriously unreliable and have a "cone of uncertainty" of over 300 nautical miles. AL93 is already less they 4 days out, according to some models.

The damage a storm will cause depends on many factors. Waves are a major factor. Older platforms had an air gap (the distance between the normal, static water surface and the base of the platform) of 35 ft to allow waves to pass under the platform. Over time that grew to 55 ft. But Ivan, Katrina, and Rita firmly demonstrated that these air gaps are too small. Chevron's Petronius platform was hit by a 90ft wave in Ivan, and was shut down for six months. Another major problem is damage to the 33,000 mile network of pipelines that connects platforms with on-shore refineries. Undersea landslides, pressure damage, and damage to the infrastructure where the pipelines come onshore can cut off platforms for months. The high winds from a storm can strip off towers, cranes, and other superstructure from offshore assets.

Assets are generally built to withstand a 100 year event. However, that often results in a serious under-design of the entire system. While a 70 foot wave might be a 100 year event at any one point, it is only a 12 year event for at least one platform in the Gulf. Another issue is the harsh offshore environment. In effect these structures are sitting in a salt bath. Even with aggressive preventive maintenance, it is doubtful that a structure designed to handle a 120mph wind can still handle those loads after sitting in the Gulf for years or decades.

Restoration times are also a complex calculation. Some wells, especially older, nearshore assets, are simply not worth restoring as they are too far along in their production cycle to warrant the expense of repairing the damage. For major events like Katrina, another issue is the globally limited resources to replace damaged assets.

2010 Outlook

This doesn't look to be a good year for several reasons. First, we are still clearly in a warm phase AMO cycle, with the Atlantic sea surface temperatures above normal. Second, it is increasingly clear that we will be entering a La Nina phase of the ENSO cycle over the next few weeks. Thus, there will be more energy (SST) and favorable winds (La Nina). Historically, when those conditions exist, there is disruption to Gulf of Mexico (GOMEX) production. Our modeling indicates that 98% of years with climatology similar to this one will lose at least one week of production, as opposed to 40% of all years. On average, 98 million barrels of production are shut in in years like this one.

Oil Spills and Hurricanes

There has been a lot of discussion about the impact of a hurricane on the spill, and vice versa. Jeff Masters has a good discussion on the impact of oil on a storm topic here. As he points out, the size of the storm is large compared to the size of the slick. I agree that as far as the impact of the spill on storms, I seriously doubt it will be noticeable. In theory, an oil sheen should reduce the energy exchange between water and air, and reduce energy available, and therefore weaken a storm. Also in theory, some are arguing the oil will result in slightly higher SSTs, and therefore more energy and stronger storms. I think both arguments are of the "angels on pinheads" variety due to the size factor, and that wave and wind action will disrupt the slicks long before either process could come in to play.

The impact of a storm on the oil is whole different matter. I think the best thing the Gulf Coast could get this year is a direct hit by a big, wet, Cat 1 storm. Strong enough to clean things out, not so bad as to hurt folks much worst than they already are. The currents and wave action would probably mix up and disperse the oil, rain bands and surge would flush out the wetlands without pushing oil much further inland. A worst case might be a mid or southern Gulf bypassing storm - winds, waves could push the oil on to and beyond protective devices as well as deeper in to the marshes, but not be violent enough to seriously mix up the oil and disperse it, and no rain bands to dilute or wash out the wetlands. A direct hit by a stronger storm could potentially push oil far inland, but the mixing and dilution effects should mitigate that somewhat.

Either way, given climatology, we're almost certainly going to find out what a hurricane does to an oil spill this year . . .

Thank you for posting of TOD - like many of the experts on this site you are going to add sanity to the discussion. My hope is that the MSM at least spends a minute or two reviewing what is written before going on the air to scare the crap out of America.


Thanks, Chuck, and welcome aboard.

What is the soonest that the higher waves might start causing a problem in the Gulf of Mexico, near where the platforms are?

I can attest, and anyone who was here two or three years ago when the "other" hurricanes came through, that Chuck's info is absolutely wonderful and insightful.

Let's just hope this thing is nothing but a blow by storm and that it doesn't cause much harm.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a gasoline price spike or two during this year's hurricane season. Here is a simple chart of Gulf Coast refining capability compared to the rest of the US: If we have an active hurricane season along the Gulf Coast and refineries are shut down, gasoline prices will probably go up, until the refineries can be brought back to production.

Now might be a good time to convert your car to run on alcohol and start brewing your own fuel:

No, its not that the prices go up. There just won't be enough gasoline to get to Atlanta--yet again. We in Atlanta get our oil from the gulf, but we are far enough away that if there is a shortage, we don't get gasoline.

We had fairly serious gasoline shortages in both 2005 and 2008 in the Atlanta area when there were hurricanes. Prices didn't really go up--there were penalties for price gouging. People either waited in lines for gas, or stayed at home for a while. Some of us filled up in advance. I expect more will do it, now that the pattern is clear.

Here in Carmel, CA...we see gas prices go up with lower supply. I have this electric bike which helps this 59 year old geologist get up those hills, which seem to get steeper every year. We always have gasoline, but you need to pay the price. The price of gas determines how much I use my car vs my bike. But if the price of gasoline gets too high, I'll just make my own ethanol to blend with my gasoline. Maybe a few folks in Atlanta will start doing the same...not because of price...but because of availability.

Gail - Appreciate the opportunity to work with you guys!
The PEMEX fields shouldn't see anything they can't handle. for the US OCS fields, the "IF" depends a lot on how well organized the thing is coming off Yucatan. If it stays at minimal TS strength or below, shouldn't cause too much of a problems for any of the fixed platforms, although it could cause problems for the DH ships. Swell could be rough on booms and other protective devices. The "when" is early to mid-week next week - Monday at the earliest, more likely Wed. As I noted in the post, my fear is a track similar to the current (Friday Evening) NHC forecast - cross south, send enough waves into the spill area to move the oil, trigger evacuations and disrupt the response efforts, but not rough enough to initiate significant mixing or dilution.

Dear methaz,
Thank you for your most informative post and sharing your insights and experience on TOD.

"...could cause problems for the DH ships. Swell could be rough on booms and other protective devices..."

What is a DH ship and could you please elaborate on boom and protective device problems in high seas?

Sorry about the abbreviations - wanted to get the post out fast. DH is Deepwater Horizon; the Deepwater Horizon ships refers to the small fleet that has converged on the site, and includes the Discoverer Enterprise drill ship and other support vessels. They are not as able to weather heavy seas as a fixed platform could.

The problem with waves is that the oil would overtop the barriers, and the waves would potentially tear the booms and other barriers loose from their anchors or break them up. Short period wind waves are "better" than swell even though they would cause damage, because they cause more mixing and dilution offshore, whereas longer period swell would not break until in the nearshore surf zone, thus pushing the oil over the barriers and in to the marshes and beaches while causing less dilution and mixing.

DH is Deepwater Horizon it occurred to me after I posted, thanks.

When the word comes, who directs the exit traffic and where will the DH fleet seek safe harbor? What about the skimmers and research vessels?

I watched that storm develop all afternoon it was impressive how it suddenly came together.

At least no Walruses will be harmed in the Gulf of Mexico when the hurricanes pass over!

Could any of you experts there on the OD describe the usual shutdown and restart protocol on a GOM rig when hurricanes approach? How many days does this take? What about if multiple systems are on the way?

And what happens to drill rigs, ships, etc.?

When the word is given, the relief well rig crews (and all the other crews in the area as well) will be removed to shore, usually via helicopters, about 48 hours in advance of the storm reaching the area. I would assume that the relief wells will be left with everything plugged, which will then need to be re-attached post-storm.

Everything else, the skimmers, all the vessels will head for port (where will be determined by the track--I would imagine Tampa/St. Pete? because of the track of the storm), perhaps in a shorter timeframe than 48 hours though.

Then depending on the extent of the damage, they will head back out when they can.

Remind me what they will do with the temporary "riser" that's attached to the existing cap on top of the BOP? Weren't they going to suspend it on some type of flotation devise x number of feet below the sea surface? How many days (best and worst case scenarios) will they have unchecked flow once again going into the GOM if the storm goes over the area?

Thad Allen in today's conference went into some detail. They have the shutdown times for each of the ships / platforms and the sea state they can safely operate in. When the estimated arrival time of storm gets to the ships shutdown time, they shutdown.

Some ships?platforms? take 120hrs to shutdown/evacuate, but Thad didnt go into the details too much.

thanks for the post I am an avid watcher of Tropical weather and among many sites I montior/ follow is Wunderground's Dr. Jeff Masters blog:

and their tropical weather page:

and also subscribe to Accuweather PRO to read/watch the much loved/hated Joe Bastardi: (free trial offer from them)

etc etc..

finally an occasional poster here with the handle 'skyebluepink' was one of the preeminent weather bloggers prior to her return to research in tropical storm forecasting. Hopefully she will make her presence known on a regular basis. She has published extensively on Katrina etc.

she is helping us out...we're very happy to have her. She's pretty swamped though, so she's not sure how much she can contribute, but I hope it's a lot--she sounds like she knows her stuff.

Margie's a rare combination of knowledgeable and personable. I first got to know her at Weather Underground. Her sixteen part series on Katrina's storm surge is still there in the archives, and I re-read it a couple of weeks ago in this new context. Good stuff.

We grieved to see her leave WU. I was delighted to see her here and discover she's still contributing, albeit in different ways.

I had seen an image on here before showing the scale of 5000 feet below the ocean. I decided to make an image representative of the full 18,000 feet of the well bore, riser, and drillship above it. It's not great or anything, and in the future I'll add markers where each of the casings end. It might crash your computer if you don't have enough memory. It's 18,700x1000 pixels, but only 150kb.

Good job! But if you're not on a BIG monitor you won't be able to see the wellbore!

I'm on a 21" and the borehole is about the thickness of a few hairs braided together.

Edited to add: It blows up bigger and you can scroll for a LOOONNNNGGGG time to get to the bottom!

My belief - Not worth paying attention to or even noticing until it has reformed after crossing the Yucatan. Off the radar till then.


2nded especially with the unknowns of hurricane Darby on the other side of Mexico.


Well, just for info. I have been following these threads for a better understanding of what is happening so close to my home state. I have watched TOD for a couple years, but never decided to create an account, I work with GSFC as a mission specialist.

I just changed the Que on NASA's Earth Ring satellite system and added multiple shots of the Gulf Spill and louisiana coast. These are the highest data and analysis pictures that can be taken by modern satellites. Please remember these files are huge, almost 17 gb.
Its part of ESDIS

It will take maybe a week for the pictures to Que from Hawaii, but if you would like I can post the pictures here.

Pherein, wow, thanks. I am moved that TOD and the internet bring together so many remarkable people. Like you for example. This place has a lot of good storm tracking.

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Fish and birds covered with tar-like oil are washing up on the eastern shores of Venezuela's largest body of water, angering fishermen who fear their livelihood is at stake because of the country's state-run oil company.

Government officials claim their critics are exaggerating the size of the slick allegedly caused by pipeline leaks. But some 600 fishermen from Zulia state have vowed to take legal action.

"Someone throws a fishing net down to the bottom and it comes out filled with oil," said Alfonso Moreno, a 49-year-old fisherman.

If and when a storm targets the site, what are the processes that must take place, and how long would each take? Would they simply "cork" the risers? So many new questions!

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center plot map for hurricane Darby ......

There is a much more in-depth post by Jeff Masters on the effects of oil on a hurricane (and vice-versa) from May 26th.

I only point this out because I think this post is a little tame and seems to stress the positive aspects. The older Jeff Masters post does not describe a doomsday scenario by any means, and it contains a lot of positive information, however it also includes risks that are absent here (for example a discussion on sea spray distances for past hurricanes). Given the first hand experiences of people who have inhaled the fumes from this spill, I don't think this should be passed up. I hope with all my heart that storms will have a positive effect on the oil spill, however, we all should be aware of the possibilities. In particular those who have the choice to take the family on a road trip the day of landfall.

Please play it safe y'all.

Oil giant Syncrude Canada has been found guilty of causing the deaths of 1,600 ducks that landed in a toxic settling pond in northern Alberta.

The ducks died after being coated in a toxic lather when they landed in the waste pond in April 2008.

Piers Corbyn of on the track and strength of Caribbean storm headed for Gulf.

“Invest 93 is likely to power-up in the period Sat 26th to Monday 29th above standard forecast expectations at this moment (24th June 09:00 UT = 04:00 EDT) and veer to the right (East) as it does so. This implies... it powers up and passes through the Yucatan Channel...and heads for Florida where landfall is likely...”

While this site ( has had a few correct predictions, they fail quite often. Or should I say he fails...

weather action is a British business front for Piers Corbyn. Piers does not release any information regarding the methods of his predictions, and the predictions are generally for paying customers only.

or just go to the weather action site and see for yourself... it's crap.

But people do pay to read his predictions... I wonder why.

For the same reason people pay for a fortune teller in the circus. Seriously - google search him... haha.

Most of the comments here, and virtually all of the weather-related articles in the MSM focus too narrowly on the potential effect of one individual storm when it enters the DH area. But as Admiral Allen has stated, the relief well drilling operations, as well as the oil collection operations, need five days to disassemble in advance of a storm. Therefore, the key question is: how often, and for how many days, in this year's projected above-average storm season, is a developing storm likely to be at a point from which its five-day cone includes the DH area?

Given that, as Methaz shows, the typical 5-day cone has a diameter of 300 nm, the answer to this question must be: considerably more often and for many more days than storms will actually be in the DH area itself. The historical tracks of past seasons give a good indication. Consider this chart of the tracks of storms of 2005.

There were only three storms that actually passed over the DH spill area, but there were about NINE which, five days out, had an cone of uncertainty that included that area. So if this season has a similar pattern, as it is forecast to, then shut-down and disassembly will have to happen nine times during hurricane season. Most of these times will prove to be "false alarms," as the storms turn out to miss the area, but nevertheless, operations will have to be shut down each of those times. Once begun, the disassembly process will require a number of days to reverse. The actual mechanics of this process is the key question. In most cases, it will become clear at a certain point that the storm is no longer projected to hit the area, so disassembly can stop and reassembly can begin.

Now the mid-August projected date of completion for the RW does not, as I understand it, take into account any time for these periods of disassembly and reassembly. It is a virtual certainty that there will be at least one such period between now and mid August. The most likely number of such events would appear to be somewhere around three to five. The worst case is higher. No doubt the Coast Guard and BP have already modeled this in detail.

Thus the probability of the completion date the RW operation should be expressed as a bell curve, in which the stated mid August date is right at the near end of the curve, the most likely date, i.e., the highest point of the curve, is very many days later, and the far end of the curve is somewhere close to the end of the hurricane season next winter.

"the stated mid August date"
I've heard this AND I've heard that RW-1 is 40% ahead of schedule. So if for RW-1 schedule was from beginning of May until mid Aug (approx 105 days), would not 40% ahead of schedule be 60% of 105 or 63 days? Which would bring RW-1 near completion in early July (w/o storm interruption)

This is a good point. In fact, in most years virtually all of the production disruption is caused by precautionary evacuations and shutdowns.

Production and what is going on a Deepwater are two different things......the current recovery effort is extremely hazardous, huge amounts of gas are being vented. I can't see how they can continue working if a Hurricane of any size is in the Gulf....regardless of whether the site is in the cone or not. The seas will be too high for the ships to remain in place. I think they leave Sunday unless the storm takes a complete left turn, and the for-money forecasters are predicting a TX-LA hit. Not good at all.

Thanks, Methaz. Would you be interested in trying to quantify, at least roughly, the range of projected additional times these precautionary evacuations and shutdowns would add to the mid August date? You are the only one here with the expertise and knowledge to do this credibly. I'm sure we'd all be grateful if you would attempt this.

No doubt the Coast Guard and BP have already modeled this in detail.

LMAO !!!

This supposes a degree of rationality, common sense, foresight and project management that has NOT been evident to date !

If BP & USGS actually thought that far ahead, they would have been capturing at least 65,000 b/day for the last two weeks. Late April/early May I was calling for a sister ship (or comparable) to the Deepwater Horizon on site and another one "on call". Later I called for the largest (posters here pointed to 20,000 b/day) processing ship afloat with dynamic positioning to be taken out of service where ever in the world it was and brought to the BP disaster site.

The revised goals would be one ship each for the choke and kill lines and the largest ship (by capacity) afloat for processing the flow from "tophat".

And more than two relief wells would be drilling today.

You can see the foresight and project planning by BP today in our oiled marshes.


PS: I have no doubt that BP & USGS know that hurricanes are coming and some basic plans have been made. But any sophisticated, probabilistic planning, come on !

The PBS Newshour widget

How Much Oil Has Leaked Into the Gulf of Mexico?

How about a post on hurricaines and refining capability, too? Ike almost whacked Baytown and Tx City...They were partially offline for awhile, but if Ike had come in a TINY bit further west and pushed up Galveston bay it woulda been ugly, ugly, ugly. Local news and weather guys were talking about what would happen if storage tanks got breached....

Here is the track of Hurricane Rita along with oil and gas statistics in the Gulf Coast, including imports oil, oil refined, and oil/gas produced:

A nice stormtracker that aggregates information from the National Hurricane Center and EUMETSAT:

"Not worth paying attention to or even noticing until it has reformed after crossing the Yucatan." - AlanfromBigEasy

Right, except at the meta level!

The current top headline on (complete with a false color radar image with lots of scary yellow and red):

It reminds me of John Cragie's song Talkin' Orange Alert Blues. "You don't gotta be scared. You just gotta be ready to be scared."

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the headline of story linked from the main page also adds the F-word to the mix. No, not that one. The other one: Tropical storm plus oil slick equals more fear and uncertainty

Well it looks like the TS well go way West of the spill, Great news keeping fingers crossed. But right now FL Pan handle already as oil on the sand, The bad news is this storm will bring to there coast good size waves pushing the oil even farther up the beach, Even a 5 foot wave Haywain scale can push the water at least 20 yards farther up the sand, I know a 5 foot wave does not sound big, but believe me a 5 foot wave is a surfers dream. Bottomline the Gulf coast needs calm seas any TS in the area is real bad news for our Bro's down there!!! So even if this TS does not come close to them it will still affect them for sure.

I was surprised to learn, in the commentary above this one, discussing the relief wells, that drilling would stop 120 hours ahead of predictions of 40 kt. winds. To me, the potential risk of stopping the relief well drilling based on faulty forecasts is bad news. Everything is so politicized and we are seeing the puss-i-faction of the United States. Of course, safety comes first but the entire Deepwater Horizon saga has been berift with over-reactions and under-reactions regarding decision-making. It seems to me that it would make more sense to create probabilistic forecasts that define the interval of time that conditions will permit safe drilling. We musn't interrupt the completion of the relief wells due to faulty decisions.

Thinking about Alex, the storm will almost certainly pass over the Yucatan and become weaker. It will pass into the SW GOM and rebuild but nearly all hurricane forecast models take it WNW. At the Deepwater Horizon location, there is over a 90% probabilty as of now, that they will experience some swells but not debilitating and that winds will not exceed 40 kts. So it seems logical to forecast at or about 90% probability that drilling can continue for at least the next 168 hours. This is how I think the oil spill specific forecasts should be expressed this season.

I recommend that those interested take a look at and consider joining. The tropical threads are interesting and include discussions among advanced amateurs and professional meteorologists. I'm winterymix there and welcome everyone.

BTW, everyone can click on

and click on the storm of interest and make your own overlay maps and analyses. Everything is there.

Are you suggesting we risk sinking the 2 RW rigs?


Quite the opposite. I'm suggesting that the risk of shutting down the rigs
unnecessarily may be high given the widespread track record of poor decision-making.
I say, let the RW drillers work uninterrupted until experienced, unbiased meteorologists
make the call. The NHC has such a team as long as the politicians keep the noses out of it.

Heck, the forecast should state that for the next 240 hrs, relief well drilling is expected to occur in safe meteorological conditions.

Open this link and click on Alex and wait for it to load.

Also, click on Invest 94, out to sea, a fish storm.

This is a really good point. The questions should be:

1. What percentage probability that 40 kt winds will hit the DH operations five days in the future will be the trigger to begin shutdown and evacuation? Is it 10%? 50%? Or what?

2. What model of projected storm tracks should be used to determine when that probability level has been reached and the order should be given to begin dismantling the operations. Should it include all outlier models? If so, then at the low end of the range of risk deemed acceptable, shutdown should be starting right now.

It's probably best for the USCG to have this decided in advance. There will almost certainly be times when precautionary shutdowns need to occur but later will turn out to have been false alarms. If the trigger level of risk is set too low, there will be too many of these cases and the USCG will come under fire for unnecessarily delaying the completion of the RW effort. If it is set too high, then we risk something far worse than that.

I wonder if Admiral Allen is thinking along these lines. Whichever way he decides on these questions, there are going to be people very unhappy with him. Probably his worst course of action is to leave these questions unanswered and just go by gut feeling in the moment.

Honestly, we don't have the skill to compute a probability of exceedence for a 5 day forecast like that, although some try (heck, my company and I do it all the time). It is be a pretty small number at this point.

Everybody likes triggers, especially lawyers and administrators. However, the bottom line is that this kind of decision can't be put on a trigger because of the uncertainty in the forecasts. It has to be made somewhat subjectively by a well informed, objective decision maker willing to accept the consequences of his/her decision. In this case, given the models, the consequences of delay, the consequences of a wrong call, (and somebody writing me a sufficiently large check to actually make a recommendation!), I'd make preliminary preparations to shave as much off the bug-out time as possible without interfering with operations, then sit tight until the storm reaches Yucatan.

Re DNAW's earlier question on the amount of evacuation delay we should expect before August, a back of the envelope calculation for this type of year suggests a range of 0 to 26 days, median of 8.9 days, assuming a 5 day prep time, a 5 day recovery time, and a 2 day recycle time if the evac decision is revoked during days L-5 to L-3, and no actual damage. Fun calculation, probably worthless due to the unknown unknowns.


Understood. Probabilistic forecasts make sense. To use a business term,
probabilistic forecasts are decisional.

This is as good as it gets, officially, as of now:

You know the worst thing about this whole tragedy is no one, not the government, nor the oil industry had a plan to deal with a large spill or leak. We plan for hurricanes, wars fires and others but apparently no one thought to have a plan to deal with a large oil leak. Disgusting and criminal in my opinion!

I don't have an ounce of oil industry experience, but I have decades of experience in emergency management and this whole mess makes me ill. We could have prevented most of this mess with a good plan. But instead of having a plan we would rather be reactive rather than proactive. Much the way the spill itself has been addressed. Pitiful.

I think both arguments are of the "angels on pinheads" variety due to the size factor, and that wave and wind action will disrupt the slicks long before either process could come in to play.
replica watches