Friday, June 25, 2010

Goodbye Pensacola Beach

The tide came in Tuesday night, under a moon almost full, and when the sun came up and the water retreated there it was: a broken band of oil about 5 feet wide and 8 miles long.
It looked like tobacco spit and smelled foreign, and it pooled in yesterday's footprints as far as you could see. State officials called it the worst show of crude on shore from the gusher 120 miles away.

As word spread, the people of Pensacola Beach walked to the black band to take a look, to take photographs, to be sure this wasn't some apocalyptic dream. They poured over the dunes all day, on pilgrimages to bear witness.

If the beach is church, Wednesday felt like a funeral.
Kevin Reed, 36, who learned to swim here and taught his own son, right here, how to swim, walked to the oil and cried.
"I can't help it," he said. "This just kills me. It feels like somebody just ripped my heart out. I knew it was going to be bad. I didn't know it was going to be like this."
He looked back at the band. He noticed there were no birds.

Kevin Reed, Pensacola breaks down and weeps upon seeing the oil-defiled shores of Pensacola Beach on June 23, 2010. "This will never be the same," he says. "I'd like to take the CEO of BP and jam his face in that pile on the beach."

Clean up crews are out, but they are leaving behind contaminated soil that is invisible to the naked eye..........

USF Coastal Reasearch Lab geologist Rip Kirby illuminates his foot and Pensacola Beach with a UV light on June 24. Oil specks glow orange in the sand on this beach that had been cleaned. Sifters used by cleanup crews allow contaminated sand to fall back to the beach, even though contamination is not visible to the unaided eye.

USF Coastal Reasearch Lab geologist Rip Kirby illuminates Pensacola Beach with a UV light on June 24. Oil specks glow orange in the sand on this beach that had been cleaned. Sifters used by cleanup crews allow contaminated sand to fall back to the beach, even though contamination is not visible to the unaided eye.

More frightening is what is found beneath the sand..........a vein of oil hidden 6 inches beneath the surface of the sand which researchers believe was buried overnight by the tide.

So even if the top layer of oil is shoveled up and taken away, contaminated sand remains on the beach, while a layer sits just beneath the surface. 
This is only the beginning.
Oil Blankets Pensacola Beach

More Photo's Of the Oil On Pensacola Beach

The following is a Video from Destin Beach, FL.  Oil globs washing up onto the beach and parents walking through it like it isn't even there.  Allowing their child to swim in the water, and play in the oil covered sand. 

Sickening to watch that child scream at her mother to get the oil off her foot, and yet mother acts as if it is no big deal and allows the kids to continue to play in it.  

Okay, onto an update on the Hurricane situation.

This is the latest Spaghetti Model for the "Tropical Depression" that has formed.  As you can tell it is too far out yet for any of the models to accurately predict where it might be headed, but my money is on the Blue (GDFL) Black (NOGAPS) & Gray (BAMM) as they tend to be the most accurate, or at least they have been the closest for the last 7 years that I have paid attention to them. I suspect that by Sunday we'll have a more cohesive track with more of the models coming together.

As I stated in my previous post about the Hurricane's I have been relying on Weather Underground for quite a few years as they are good, not prone to sensationalism and Dr.Jeff Masters does a good job of explaining his reasoning on his blog. 

A trough of low pressure is expected to swing down over the Eastern U.S. on Monday. If this trough is strong enough and 93L develops significantly, the storm could get pulled northwards and make landfall along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast. This is the solution of the GFDL and HWRF models. If 93L stays weak and/or the trough is not so strong, the storm would get pushed west-northwestwards across Mexico's Bay of Campeche and make landfall along Mexican coast south of Texas, or in Texas. This is the solution of the NOGAPS, ECMWF, and Canadian models. A likely landfall location is difficult to speculate on at this point, and the storm could hit virtually anywhere along the Gulf of Mexico coast given the current uncertainty in its development. The amount of wind shear in the Gulf of Mexico next week is also highly uncertain. There is currently a band of high shear near 30 knots over the Gulf. The GFS model predicts that this band of high shear will lift northwards, keeping low wind shear over the Gulf next week. However, the ECMWF model keeps high shear entrenched over the Gulf of Mexico, which would make it unlikely 93L could intensify into a hurricane. In summary, I give 93L a 60% chance of eventually becoming Tropical Storm Alex, and 10% chance of eventually becoming a hurricane.

Weather Underground Jeff Masters Blog

Now I did have someone share this plot map with me that gives some additional models and their positions as it stands now, but it is more or less the same with some heading towards the Texas/Mexico direction vs others headed towards the Louisiana/ Florida direction. 

This explains what each model is: (I have bolded the ones I tend to watch as most accurate, but remember that they could be wrong, and more will be known over the next couple of days when the weather patterns establish themselves better and we see if the storm organizes into a stronger pattern)

Sources of Hurricane Models Plotted by SFWMD:

XTRP - Extrapolation using past 12-hr motion (NHC)
TVCN - Consensus of GFS, UKMET, NOGAPS, GFDL, HWRF, GFDN, and ECMWF models (replaces old CONU model)
NHC - National Hurricane Center official forecast

BAMD - Beta and Advection model, deep (NHC)
BAMM - Beta and Advection model, medium (NHC)
BAMS - Beta and Advection model, shallow (NHC)

GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) model
UKM - United Kingdom Meteorological Office (UKMET) model (Developmental)
NGPS - United States Navy Global Atmospheric Prediction System (NOGAPS) model

AVNO - NOAA Global Forecast System (GFS) model (formerly known as the AVN/MRF)
AEMN - NOAA GFS Ensemble Mean
HWRF - NOAA Hurricane Weather and Research Forecast (HWRF) model

CMC2 - Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) model
APxx - NOAA GFS Ensemble Members
CLP5 - CLImatology-PERsistance (CLIPER) model 5-day (NHC)

By the way, SFWMD stands for South Florida Water Management District


  1. Great reporting EOY. It's such a sad sad situation that could have been prevented. Let's hope there is light at the end of the tunnel very soon.

  2. My heart aches for Kevin and all the others who are so close to this terrible tragedy. And I weep for all the rest of us who understand that even though it is not in our backyard- this time- the world is small and we are all affected. EOY I want everyone to read about Kevin. Granny J

  3. Quick update from Pensacola Beach. Today, Friday the 25th, the powers that be allowed people back into the water. Supposedly many tests were done and found very little oil if any, in the water.
    There actually were a few brave (?) souls who ventured out but very few.
    It really is heart breaking for all of us who live here. The motto has been for years "leave only your footprints in the sand". BP has left a whole lot more and it will be here for a long long time.

  4. GrannyJ, I agree. I wish we could share the grief felt by people like Kevin & Surfpnsbch with everyone out there so they would understand the heartbreak that is being felt by those who live there, and see their world being ruined with this horrible, destructive coating of oil that will never fully go away.

    Surfpnsbch~ My heart aches for you. I cannot imagine that officials would allow anyone to enter the water. I want to scoop up each living creature that must endure the toxic bath they are forced to live in and place them somewhere safe.

    I love "leave only your footprints in the sand", and that is how it should be always, but sadly you are right, BP has left much much more. A lasting reminder of their presence and their neglect & greed.

    Words do not do justice to this travesty.

  5. I neglected mentioning what a great post this is. Wish it weren't so and had never happened. But you did a great job reporting it as you did. It is hard for me living here to realize how bad it is and I'm sure it is even harder for those who aren't living it first hand. Sure hope this isn't what you have in store for the beaches in your area.
    BP says they will make it like it was but I think we all know that is really impossible.
    All our news is about the storm and what it might do.
    Thanks again.

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