Out in the Caribbean Sea, forecasters are already watching a vast stretch of unstable weather – weather that now has a 40 percent chance of a coalescing into a tropical cyclone by Friday. (via NOAA) Most years, it would only be tropical tourists who would be scouring the weather radars on an hourly basis, in hopes that the no tropical storms or hurricanes could ruin their travel plans. But this year, with tens of millions of gallons of oil floating in the Gulf of Mexico, any tropical wave is being watched closely by American government officials, in hopes of avoiding a worst case scenario: An oil-laden repeat of Hurricane Katrina.
The first significant turbulent weather of the season is now registering on the radar. See the latest imagery here.
At this point, the formation is still out to sea, south of Haiti and apparently on a course for Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. But Reuters was reporting Wednesday evening that some computer models showed the current weather system bending towards the Gulf coast, aimed for Louisiana.
Ironically, the catch here is that it may not take a hurricane to start to unleash the fury of the oil spill. (See the photos of history’s worst oil spills)
The vessels currently on site collecting the siphoned oil from the broken well have fewer hurricane-ready hookups than normal, meaning that more time is required to disconnect them from the well and move them to a safe distance. So beyond an actual hurricane, any weather that would result in seas rougher than 8-foot waves, would force the vessels to reposition. And repositioning means more oil spilling into the gulf, being moved around by the storm.
So now the waiting game continues – no doubt for the remainder of hurricane season.