Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Each day, another way to define worst-case for oil spill - An enduring feature of the gulf oil spill is that, even when you think you've heard the worst-case scenario, there's always another that's even more dire. The base-line measures of the crisis have steadily worsened. The estimated flow rate keeps rising. The well is like something deranged, stronger than anyone anticipated. BP executives last month said they had a 60 to 70 percent chance of killing it with mud, but the well spit the mud out and kept blowing. The net effect is that nothing about this well seems crazy anymore. Week by week, the truth of this disaster has drifted toward the stamping ground of the alarmists.
The most disturbing of the worst-case scenarios, one that is unsubstantiated but is driving much of the blog discussion, is that the Deepwater Horizon well has been so badly damaged that it has spawned multiple leaks from the seafloor, making containment impossible and a long-term solution much more complicated. Video from a robotic submersible, which is making the rounds online, shows something puffing from the seafloor. Some think it's oil. Or maybe - look again - it's just the silt blowing in response to the forward motion of the submersible. "We're going to have to evacuate the gulf states," said Matt Simmons, founder of Simmons and Co., an oil investment firm and, since the April 20 blowout, the unflagging source of end-of-the-world predictions. "Can you imagine evacuating 20 million people?...This story is 80 times worse than I thought."
The government's point man for the crisis said he's seen no sign of the additional leaks that have gotten so many bloggers in a lather. But his briefings offer plenty of fodder for the apocalyptic set. He repeatedly has acknowledged that there could be significant damage to the well down below the mud line. That's why, he said, the top kill effort last month was stopped: Officials feared that if they continued pumping heavy mud into the well, they would damage the casing and open new channels for hydrocarbons to leak into the rock formation. "I think that one thing that nobody knows is the condition of the well bore from below the blowout preventer down to the actual oil field itself. We don't know if the well bore has been compromised or not." And by the way, the blowout preventer is leaning, he said. "The entire arrangement has kind of listed a little bit."
Even the most sober analysts are quick to say that this is such an unpredictable well that almost anything is possible. Additional leaks are a possible source of deep-sea plumes of oil detected by research vessels. But this part of the gulf is pocked with natural seeps. Conceivably the drilling of the well, and/or the subsequent blowout, could have affected the seeps. "Once you started disturbing the underground geology, you may have made one of those seeps even worse." But a professor who is the chairman of the department of petroleum and geosystems engineering at the University of Texas argues that the discussion has been hijacked by people who don't know what they're talking about. "There is a lot of fast talk, which has little relation sometimes to reality. And there is jumping to conclusions by the people who have no right to jump to any conclusions because they don't know."
Much of the worst-case-scenario talk has centered on the flow rate of the well. What BP considered the worst-case scenario in early May is in late June the bitter reality - call it the new normal - of the gulf blowout. (photos)

**He who will not economize will have to agonize.**

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
6/22/10 -

Tropical depression 05E was 275 nmi SW of Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Hurricane CELIA was 520 nmi WSW of Acapulco, Mexico.

Hurricane Celia is set to become a major hurricane in the Eastern Pacific soon, yet will likely never come close to threatening land. Celia's sustained winds ramped up to near 105 at times on Tuesday, good enough for Category Two status on the Saffif-Simpson scale. The storm continues on a WNW track that will move Celia away from Western Mexico and steer well south of the Baja Peninsula. Most computer models factor in continued short-term strengthening for Celia as the storm encounters warm sea surface temperatures and limited upper level wind shear. Celia will likely max out at Category Three with winds in the 115-125 mph range before drifting into gradually cooler waters and increasing westerly wind shear by Saturday that will began a slow, steady weakening phase for the storm.
As Celia winds down, its very likely we'll see another tropical storm/hurricane soon just to the southeast of Celia, with an organized area of disturbed weather showing some low level circulation now also moving away from Western Mexico. (satellite photo)


BRAZIL - The death toll looks set to rise with more heavy rain forecast for today and the authorities giving estimates of the missing ranging from several hundred to 1000. Raging floods in northeastern Brazil have killed at least 41 people. Firefighters described entire towns being wiped off the map. Dramatic television pictures showed survivors scrambling to rooftops to avoid being swept away, clinging desperately to lines of rope as rescuers in helicopters rushed to pluck them from the muddy floodwaters. "We are worried because bodies are starting to appear on the beaches and the rivers." Almost 100,000 people in the two states were left without a home or forced to evacuate, while some towns were completely cut off as powerful torrents collapsed bridges and swamped roads and railway lines. Rooftops and church bell towers were the only structures visible above massive brown expanses of floodwater that only looked set to rise in the coming days. In April, flooding and landslides triggered by torrential rain killed at least 229 people in the Rio de Janeiro area.


Drought UK 2010: River dries up in days as summer finally comes to the UK...and temperatures are set to soar. A few weeks ago, the River Greta was in full flow as Britain recovered from the long, cold and snowy winter. But today, the torrent has become a trickle - with children able to walk along the Greta's river bed. "The river has dried up very suddenly, it's amazing." The waterway, a tributary to the River Tees, rises in the Pennine Hills and flows over a bed of porous limestone. During dry spells, the Greta disappears below the ground, reducing the bed to a pile of stones. Last week United Utilities issued drought warnings across the North West after SIX OF THE DRIEST CONSECUTIVE MONTHS IN 70 YEARS. Millions of people could have hosepipe warnings within weeks unless the rains return.
North west England and Wales have had only sparse rainfall since December. Reservoirs, lakes and rivers across the North West are at their LOWEST FOR MID-JUNE SINCE THE 1960s. Thirlmere, in the Lake District, is only half full, while Haweswater is 30 per cent below capacity. Levels in Coniston and other lakes are dropping. The threat of a drought in the North West follows three exceptionally wet summers.
Last November, Cockermouth in Cumbria saw SOME OF THE WORST FLOODS IN A CENTURY. 'In North West England, without substantial rainfall, there is a risk of drought this summer that could impact on both the environment and water supplies." (photos)


Monsoon rains have increased pandemic H1N1 flu activity in India, with 13 deaths and 233 flu cases reported in the past week. Kerala has been hit the hardest, with 9 deaths last week and 14 the week before, but the situation is becoming "GRAVE" in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh states. "We are prepared to handle the threat with adequate doses of Tamiflu and vaccines available," a health ministry official said.

Latin American nations experience some flu - An update from the Pan American Health Organization reported widespread influenza activity in Jamaica, while Cuba, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, and Chile reported regional flu activity. Bolivia reported a trend of increased acute respiratory disease for the first time, while Colombia reported 2 consecutive weeks and Venezuela 3 consecutive weeks of increased acute respiratory disease. (pdf file)