June 15th, 2010 at 9:00 pm by Jason Smith under FOX10 News, FOX10 Outdoors, FOX10 Weather
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.
June 9th, 2010 at 4:19 pm by Jason Smith under FOX10 News, FOX10 Outdoors, FOX10 Weather
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.
May 31st, 2010 at 3:07 pm by Jason Smith under FOX10 News, FOX10 Outdoors, FOX10 Weather
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.
May 20th, 2010 at 4:10 pm by Jason Smith under FOX10 News, FOX10 Outdoors, FOX10 Weather
Forecast for May 22, 2010, Issued May 20th, 2010
May 7th, 2010 at 3:18 pm by Jason Smith under FOX10 Outdoors, FOX10 Weather
The outer edge of the zone of uncertainty crosses the Mississippi Barrier Islands this weekend. Our area is still in the clear, with exception of the extreme West End of Dauphin Island. It’s alarming to see the northern fringe of the Chandeleur Islands being affected by the oil. While the thickest of the sheen remains well offshore… It is possible that we may see some of the outer edges of the oil next week, when winds increase out of the south.
May 7th, 2010 at 3:14 pm by Jason Smith under FOX10 News, FOX10 Outdoors, FOX10 Weather
NOAA closes more Federal Waters. However, the boundary is still a good 30-35 miles offshore in our area. This is a ten day closure, set until May 16th. NOAA may expand the closure if the oil slick position changes.
May 4th, 2010 at 8:41 pm by Jason Smith under FOX10 News, FOX10 Outdoors, FOX10 Weather
The fishing area that is closed is an area in federal waters, south of 29.59 N – or about 25 miles offshore. All state waters, and a large portion of our nearby federal waters remain open to fishing. Shrimping is also open is most areas that are typically open this time of year. Oyster harvesting is closed, but not due to the oil spill. Oyster beds are being left alone, so that oysters can recover from the cold winter.