It was only a matter of time before "inclement weather" tested the BP falling knifers. Provisionally titled Tropical Storm Alex (currently disturbance 93L), the first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, is now expected to enter the GoM area as soon as next week, causing unpredictable and possibly irreparable harm to BP's clean up efforts. And this is just the beginning: as Bloomberg reminds: "Forecasters are predicting this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, may be among the most active on record...Three storms, two of them hurricane-level, may pass through the oil spill area, while three more may come close enough to affect cleanup operations and other rig activity, AccuWeather Inc. chief hurricane forecaster Joe Bastardi said." We are confident all those who have written exhaustive multi-page investment theses vouching their certainty that BP is at least a doublebagger have factored in such completely unpredictable factors as 100+ mph winds and currents that bring BP's tarballs all the way up to Virginia along the eastern seaboard.
How is BP preparing for this contingency? With yet more promises.
BP is developing a new containment response that will help clean-up operators to connect and disconnect oil-recovery systems faster, allowing the company to capture more oil ahead of and following a storm, said John Pack, a BP spokesman in London. Some of the changes will be ready before July, he said.
And here is the Wunderground Blog with an exhaustive analysis of L93/Alex:
A concentrated region of intense
thunderstorms associated with a tropical wave has developed in the
central Caribbean, a few hundred miles south of Puerto Rico. This
disturbance was designated Invest 93L
by NHC this morning, and has the best chance to become Tropical Storm
Alex of any system we've seen so far this year. The disturbance is
located near Buoy 42059, and this buoy has been reporting winds of 5 - 15 knots this morning. So far, pressures are not falling. Water vapor satellite loops
show that 93L is embedded in a large region of moist air. Some dry
continental air from North America is over the western Caribbean, but
this dry air is too far away to interfere with development today and
Tuesday. Wind shear
is a low 5 - 10 knots. The high wind shear associated with the strong
winds of the subtropical jet stream are over the northern Caribbean,
too far north to interfere with development. Sea Surface Temperatures
are plenty warm, a record 29 - 30°C. The Madden-Julian oscillation currently favors upward motion over the Caribbean, which will act to increase the chances of tropical storm formation this week. The Madden-Julian oscillation
is a pattern of enhanced rainfall that travels along the Equator from
west to east. The pattern has a wet phase with large-scale rising air
and enhanced thunderstorm activity, followed by a dry phase with
large-scale sinking air and suppressed thunderstorm activity. Each
cycle lasts approximately 30 - 60 days. When the Madden-Julian
oscillation is in its wet phase over a hurricane-prone region, the
chances for tropical storm activity are greatly increased. The only
negative for 93L would seem to be the lack of spin; the University of Wisconsin 850 mb relative vorticity analysis is showing only meager amounts of spin at 850 mb (roughly 5,000 feet in altitude.)
Figure 1. Morning visible satellite image of the central Caribbean disturbance 93L.
Forecast for 93L
is giving 93L a 20% chance of developing into a tropical depression by
Wednesday morning, which is a reasonable forecast. With wind shear
expected to drop to low values less than 10 knots over the central and
western Caribbean this week (Figure 2), I don't see any major
impediments to the storm becoming a tropical depression by Friday. The
ECMWF model is the most aggressive in developing this system, taking it
into the Gulf of Mexico as a hurricane next week. The NOGAPS model
keeps the storm weak and farther south, predicting that 93L will bring
heavy rains to northern Honduras as a tropical disturbance or tropical
depression on Friday and Saturday. The GFS model does not develop 93L.
Expect 93L to bring flooding rains of 3 - 6 inches to Jamaica, eastern
Cuba, and extreme southwestern Haiti on Wednesday. These rains will
spread to the Cayman Islands and central Cuba by Thursday.