Jason Smith – FOX10 Outdoors

Meeting of the Mayors

July 9th, 2010 at 2:50 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors, Uncategorized

(From L to R) Jason Smith, Bob Grip, Jeff Collier, Stan Wright, Tony Kennon, Robert Craft

If you’re interested in the oil spill in the Gulf (and who isn’t nowadays), take some time and watch the conversation we had with the mayors of 4 coastal Alabama cities Thursday afternoon.

It took a little work to get Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier, Bayou La Batre Mayor Stan Wright, Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon and Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft to arrange their schedules to meet in one place for the conversation, but I think it was worth it. I hope you will, too.

We talked for nearly an hour on everything from how the mayors rated the responsiveness of BP to the spill; to how to maintain basic services in the face of declining sales and property taxes; the work underway to fill in the “Katrina cut” on Dauphin Island, and the impact of the spill on the tourism and recreational boating industries.

At the conclusion of the conversation, I asked all 4 mayors if they were optimistic or pessimistic about the future.  Two said they were optimistic, two said they were realistic.  To find out who said what, click on the link.


Fishing Closures

July 7th, 2010 at 4:56 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors

Confused by the fishing closures ? You are not alone. Each state has its own specific closure areas. The Feds have their closure too, which is by far the largest and the most restrictive.

All offshore Federal waters within 100 miles of here are closed – no fishing of any kind. The area of Federal waters begins off our beaches by 3-7 miles and extends beyond the range of most boats. Updates can be found at:

http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/

Some state waters are open, however…

Mississippi State Waters: all areas along Gulf beaches and MS Sound are closed, no fishing, period. Back bays and bayous are open. Updates can be found at:

http://www.dmr.state.ms.us/

Alabama State Waters: MS Sound and Gulf Beaches – catch and release only. Mobile Bay is fully open to fishing except for a small area right at the mouth of the bay. Updates can be found at:

http://outdooralabama.com/fishing/saltwater/DH.cfm

Florida State Waters: (Gulf Beaches) Perdido Key to Pensacola Beach – catch and release only. Everything else is fully open. Updates can be found at:

http://myfwc.com/OilSpill/index.htm

Catch and Release Trend…

Florida started this concept and all other Gulf Coast States have followed along. You can fish, but all species must be returned to the water immediately. Louisiana has extensive areas that are closed, but now allow catch and release fishing as of June 6th.

Mississippi is the only state that prohibits catch and release fishing in the “caution” areas.

”This option has been on the table for some time now and is part of our ongoing effort to be proactive as we continue to write the playbook on this event,” said Chief of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Robert Branham.

”Many fish for the pure pleasure of catching and then releasing already. We see no reason why that activity can’t continue,” said Alabama Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley.

There are no reports of tainted fish in our waters. The affects of hydrocarbons on fish are still be studied. Expect more changes as we go along…


Tropical Threat…

June 25th, 2010 at 9:47 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors

T.D. One should become Tropical Storm Alex tonight or Saturday. This feature will have a short opportunity to strengthen before hitting Mexico Sunday. Upper level winds, atmospheric moisture, and water temperatures all promote strengthening in the short term.

The system should weaken over the Yucatan on Sunday and head back over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Two scenarios are possible with the future forecast track once it gets back into the Gulf. Several reliable models take the system west towards Mexico or south Texas. Or, an unusual frontal system may track through our area and stall in the northern Gulf. This feature would steer the system towards the northern Gulf Coast.  

If a system makes landfall in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama… the impacts would be severe due to the large amount of oil off our beaches.
The forecast is for the system to remain a tropical storm. But, even a weak storm would bring higher tides and rough seas.

If the system takes a westward track into Texas, then we would see some swells and an increase s’east breeze. This would be a much better scenario for us.

Predicted timeline….

Saturday: In Caribbean, likely a Tropical Storm

Sunday: Over the Yucatan, as a Depression

Sunday Night/Monday: Emerges into the Gulf as a Depression

Tuesday: A Tropical Storm in the Gulf

Wednesday/Thursday/Friday: Possible Landfall, most likely as a tropical storm


You Can’t Keep Them, However…

June 25th, 2010 at 9:36 pm by under FOX10 News, Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors

June 24, 2010

 

Effective immediately, the Alabama Department of Conservation announces the opening for recreational catch and release fishing in State waters closed to fishing in response to the presence of oil. Closed State waters include all Gulf waters out to the 3-mile State/Federal line, Mississippi Sound avoiding Katrina Cut, and the area south of a line extending east from Mobile Ship Channel Marker 22 to Little Point Clear. Anglers shall not keep or possess fish while in closed waters. All fishing remains prohibited in Federal waters. Anglers are reminded to stay clear of booms and booming operations, all working vessels, and areas with visible oil and/or sheen.

The following protective measures are advised:
• Avoid direct skin contact with the oil.
• If you get oil or tar balls on your skin, wash with soap and water.
• Launder clothing as usual if you get oil on it.
• There is no need to use harsh detergents, solvents or other chemicals to wash oil from skin or clothing, and it is discouraged.

Some people also may be sensitive to any change in air quality, which could cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or headaches. If you have these symptoms, we recommend that you leave the area. If these symptoms do not improve, you should then consider contacting your primary care physician or other health care provider for medical advice. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma or other respiratory illness, you should consider communicating with your physician if you feel symptomatic. If you come into contact with an area of strong odor, it is recommended that you move to another location.

“Many fish for the pure pleasure of catching and then releasing already. We see no reason why that activity can’t continue,” said Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions:  Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries


Oil Spill Spreads Across the Gulf

June 15th, 2010 at 9:00 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors

New spill estimates suggest that the oil is flowing at a rate of 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day. This is 1.5-2.5 million gallons a day! The oil has been flowing since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20th. For two months, the oil has poured into the Gulf and little has been done to slow the leak.

Satellite images show that the area of sheen has been steadily spreading over the north central Gulf of Mexico. We have already seen light impacts of oil from Petit Bois Island, AL to Navarre, FL. Fox Ten News crews have documented small areas of tar balls and sheen as far up Mobile Bay as Gaillard Island and the eastern shore near Weeks Bay. Impacts are more significant in lower Perdido Bay.

Shifting winds and currents help dictate where the oil spreads in the short term. We saw significant impacts in south Baldwin County over the weekend. Temporarily, the situation is better with only light tar balls reported in this area. This week, winds have been a little lighter and more westerly. The oil is now spreading off the Florida Panhandle, with most of the sheen a few miles off the beaches. It’s only a matter of time before winds increase out of the south and we see this stuff back on the beaches. We will see good days and bad days with the oil. It’s going to be streaky as long as we are on the leading edge of the plume. If the leak continues, I fear that the problem will gradually get more serious with each passing week.

Efforts to set up boom has proven ineffective at times. The boom is not strong enough to withstand stronger winds and choppy conditions. Tides are strong enough to make the situation even more difficult to contain. We see tidal ranges as much as two and a half feet during some stages of the tidal cycle. This produces a powerful current that rips even well anchored boom apart.

I have spent a lot of time fishing on the waters from Mobile Bay to Choctawhatchee Bay and beyond. The amount of water in the Gulf that is affected by the spill is well beyond our ability to police. Riding around Mobile Bay on Monday morning, the reality of the situation hit home for me. Even the relatively small geographical area of Mobile Bay is too large to defend from the oil. A fleet of 2,000 boats armed with skimmers and boom couldn’t fight of the oil if the slick decided to track into our waters like it did in Barataria Bay near Grand Isle earlier in the month.

There is just too much of this stuff out there. It’s overwhelming, disheartening, and frightening. It’s June 15th, and the wind is light out of the southwest tonight. I can smell the crude in the air tonight outside the Fox Ten News studios.

Jason Smith


Predicting the Oil Slick & Unrest in the Bayou

June 9th, 2010 at 4:19 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors

Every aspect of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster is something totally new for just about all of us. Predicting the oil spill and when these small plumes of sheen and tar balls will affect our beaches is very difficult. This week, we saw very light impacts Monday and Tuesday with only light reports of shoreline contact. Wednesday brought a much more significant coating to areas around Orange Beach and Perdido Pass.

The oil is spreading throughout the northern Gulf, directed by Gulf Currents and surface winds. Things get more complicated when the areas get closer to the beaches. Tides and sea breezes make the oil even harder to predict.

This week, overflight maps indicate a significant area of sheen and orange emulsion located about 15 miles off the Baldwin County beaches. Small pieces of this break off and affect the beaches on occasion. The real problem will begin when this slick impacts the shore directly. Hopefully we have a better system in place to combat the slick when it gets here.

I spent a good bit of time in Bayou LaBatre and Mississippi Sound today. There was quite a mix of sentiments about the situation. There are a large number of commercial fishermen who are residents of south Mobile County who claim that BP will not hire them. They are out of work because of the oil spill and closed fishing areas.

I also witnessed a large number of boaters, many in pleasure boats and recreational boats, that were participating in the BP work program. Many had accents and car tags that indicated they were not from this area. Most were riding around in circles around Katrina Cut and Dauphin Island serving the role as oil spotters. BP is paying folks to ride around and look for oil. Very few were deploying boom, cleaning beaches, or doing any other actual work to prepare for a spill. The situation is totally disorganized.


Fishing Closed

May 31st, 2010 at 3:09 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors


Oil Nearing the Coast

May 31st, 2010 at 3:07 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors

Oil projections from NOAA show that the oil slick could impact the beaches of Mobile and Baldwin counties by Wednesday. Fisherman are reporting the oil as close as 10-15 miles south of Dauphin Island. Oil is being reported as surface sheen and underwater globs. Southwest winds will drive the oil very close to our beaches early this week. It may be possible to smell the oil at times. Fishing is closed in Federal waters off Mobile County and parts of Baldwin County, roughtly south off Little Lagoon pass west to Louisiana. We will have more update on Fox 10 News.


NOAA Oil Slick Projection

May 20th, 2010 at 4:10 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors

Forecast for May 22, 2010, Issued May 20th, 2010


Visible Satellite Image from May 18th

May 20th, 2010 at 4:09 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors