Friday, June 18, 2010

What happens if a Hurricane hits the slick?

So, what happens if a major Hurricane were to plow through the Gulf while all this oil is floating around? It's a question on a lot of folks' minds in these parts.

(Hurricane Gustav, August 31, 2008.  Click the image for a larger view)

In response, NOAA has released a slick (pun intended, of course), glossy FAQ sheet answering several questions about how a hurricane might affect the oil slick, and how the slick might affect the hurricane.  Short answer--They really don't know:

  • A hurricane’s winds rotate counter-clockwise. Thus, in VERY GENERAL TERMS:
  • A hurricane passing to the west of the oil slick could drive oil to the coast.
  • A hurricane passing to the east of the slick could drive the oil away from the coast.
  • However, the details of the evolution of the storm, the track, the wind speed, the size, the forward motion and the intensity are all unknowns at this point and may alter this general statement.

One other possibility that they don't include--a hurricane passing right smack through the middle of the slick would probably act like a mega-blender, sending some oil south, some east, some west, and some northwards to the shore. 

Is Gaia trying to kill us?

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

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