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You are here: > News > Oct. 18, 2005; 5:56 pm mdt

Wilma Probably a Sleeper Where Oil is Concerned

While it will stir other problems (severe at that), there are no significant oil platforms at risk -- unless it veers left into the Yucatan.

by Paul Noel, with follow-up phone conversation notes by Sterling D. Allan
Pure Energy Systems News
- Exclusive
Copyright © 2005

Five Day forecast track of Tropical Storm Wilma from NOAA. (Oct. 18, 2005)
Photo Credit: NOAA.

Here in Hurricane country, we have a saying: "If wind is from the East, 'tis good for neither man nor beast."  We've been having an east wind for a couple of weeks, so we knew there was a hurricane brewing.

Having given three heads up notes on Hurricanes this year, on this one I can happily say not to worry. This is going to be a snore when it comes to oil disruption -- we hope. Of course all hurricane forecasts are errors until they happen.

I don't mean that Wilma is going to be nothing, rather it just doesn't appear to be going anywhere that is likely to cause a lot of trouble for the energy industry.

The north Gulf of Mexico is comfortably cold and inhospitable to hurricanes right now. I would say that we are relatively safe for now. Of course the moon is in proper phase to bring about a really nasty storm for Cuba and South Florida for the next 3 or four days. I don't think it will come close to being remarkable on a Rita or Katrina scale.

Don't get me wrong. This could be a serious storm (e.g. Category 3-5) for South Florida. The water off of Cuba is HOT HOT HOT. But from an energy point of view, no oil is being extracted there.

Oil Politics

That's not because there is no oil to extract near Cuba. There is a large deposit of oil and gas there. One of the deals that was struck to get President Bush elected was that Jeb Bush would not develop any oil off the coast of Florida. A footnote here, to be developed in a later story, is that there is no shortage of oil and gas, as I learned when working closely with a rig in Mobile Bay. It's just political posturing of the powers that be.

With the number of oil wells sitting dormant, and with some replenishment taking place by what appears to be a magma oil process, our biggest concern will be running out of air if we eventually burn all that oil. Our current shortages are engineered for political purposes.

There is one caveat about Wilma. If it bears left and hits the north coast of Yucatan on the Bay of Campeche, there is a large sister deposit similar to the one sitting off the U.S. Gulf Coast, which is similarly sprinkled with rigs. That area is the source of oil imports to U.S. from Mexico, so disruption of that system could spell yet more problems for the U.S. oil situation, not to mention Mexico’s economy. But that scenario is unlikely.

Geologically speaking, those deposits come from the massive amounts of debris that have flowed into the gulf from rivers over eons of time. As mentioned above, though, the amount of oil, and the replenishing phenomenon does bespeak another process at play in addition to the composition of decaying mass over time.

The whole point of alternative energy is to become free from the uncertainties that arise from dependence on oil and on a massive grid, with all its vulnerabilities, as well as to stop burning (polluting) a natural resource that has plenty of other valuable applications such as lubrication and plastics.

Needed: An End Run Around the Oil Shortage

As I said above, the problem is not supply. What is at issue is freedom. If you or I start to bust free of the grid, the powers that be get restless. They don't want to lose their control over the masses. They have lots of means to get their way. If we're going to get alternative energy technologies rolling, we need to have an attitude that is a combination of damn the torpedoes, not asking permission, and not selling out.

Storm Intensity Factors

I'm not suggesting that Wilma isn't going to be a serious hurricane. It could possibly be a cat 4 or 5 depending upon where it goes north of Cuba. Rest assured that anywhere north of Tampa it will not be above a 3 and probably not above a 1. The energy is gone up there. Between Tampa and Ft Myers it could jack up pretty sharply but frankly I don't think 3+ is in the cards unless you get down to the very bottom of that range.

Below that point. ALL BETS ARE OFF regards intensity. Cutting the Florida Straits it could be a Cat 5. Of course a Cat 5 in the Yucatan Channel or just north of Cuba would mean it would pack the storm surge of a Cat 5 into land like Rita did as a Cat 3 into Louisiana and Texas (etc.).

The only problems for the oil industry for this storm appear, based upon current tracks, to be dangers to shipping. The Florida Strait and Yucatan Channel are both very narrow (80 nm and 45 nm respectively). This storm will block these for a few days. Since shipping people are well aware of such dangers and plan accordingly, I don't think it will cause losses. Of course it will bring high seas to the whole gulf.

I suppose a heads up would be in order for ordinary hurricane safety but not for oil/gas.

Storm Effects on Mexico

Now there is a caveat. If Wilma were to head west upon entering the Gulf of Mexico, where there is plenty of hot water, this hurricane would take out Mexico as an oil-producing nation. That would knock out America's number 2 foreign supplier of oil. The only good news here is that looks very unlikely. Most of Mexico's production is in the North Yucatan area and the Bay of Campeche. This production will be very temporarily affected by Wilma. The Bay of Campeche is that bay essentially 20 degrees south, and further south bounded by greater Mexico and the Yucatan. The Oil production region North of the Yucatan is generally about centered along the north coast of the Yucatan in that large shallow area offshore. If Wilma were to go into this area the nastiness that would come about, considering what is already going on as a result of lethal flooding and mudslides caused by Hurricane Stan, would just be horrid. Thank God it is unlikely this time.

Wilma will leave plenty of hot water behind for another try if it misses the Mexican oil fields. This hurricane season isn't over. Just the North Gulf is safe. The whole Caribbean is HOT HOT HOT, as is the Atlantic. The central Gulf of Mexico and western Gulf is hot as well. North of Cuba is blistering. The season is getting late and the danger areas are moving south and east except they still cover the whole Caribbean.

I am just watching and I think this is just going to be a big hurricane, but not in the area where it will hurt the US and world energy supplies. Watching its Atlantic movements would be interesting. I generally don't watch that region much. The water temps say that if Wilma goes north it could cause lots of havoc up to about Washington DC. It is even possible to have trouble up to New York City if the Gulf Stream is just right at the time. I wouldn't guess above a Cat 1 up there. (Juan was re-classified as Cat 2 in Nova Scotia.) I really don't claim much skill in guessing Atlantic storms. I watch the US Gulf Coast pretty well. If I were in the Florida Keys. I would get out as a precaution. A Cat 5 going east in the Florida Strait could pretty much clean the Keys out.

The continental flow over the USA is very flat on or near the Canada border so this isn't over yet.

A bit of Florida Geology makes the approach from the west by a Hurricane pretty much lose its surge. It is possible to have one as did the "No Name Storm" of 1993. (Ref.) Ivan put an 8-foot surge into Tampa Bay as it hit Alabama.

That large shallow area to the west of Florida makes surges harder to get into land. They would have to be formed well at sea and carried in to do the damage there. Most of the West Coast of Florida is sparsely populated with a very shallow approach to the sea. There really isn't much population in a target zone except from about 100 miles north of Tampa to a little south of Ft. Myers. A Cat 5 storm across the everglades would lose little force going into the Miami area. The area would during a storm surge essentially all be sea and "Land Fall" might be sort of an academic question.

Water, Water, Everywhere

There are two really nasty features of a Hurricane. They are storm surge and rain. A slow hurricane like this one packs both. A fast Hurricane can rain but it cannot surge. [• not at all? Or less height?] Rain is the biggest killer of a Hurricane. If this storm were to proceed at its current speed over south Florida anywhere in the projected path, rain will be a serious problem. Flooding will be very high.

I lived through the "No Name Storm" and its effects. It happened in the winter and as such was not named. It also gained strength making landfall at New Port Riche in Florida. It became a true winter storm in the North. In Huntsville, Alabama it dropped about 13 inches of snow with winds in excess of 90 miles per hour. Its center went up over the Cherokee National Forest in North Carolina. There it had winds in excess of 220 miles per hour and dropped up to 4 feet of Snow. It went up the east coast with high ferocity all the way up. It was a "Hurricane" but it was in the winter and behaved awful. It became known as the "Perfect Storm." It gave rise to the movie of that name.

New Orleans is at risk of winter storms flooding the city all this winter.

# # #


Not that cool

The daily composite temperature maps don't look that cool to me. These show the wider region, and the Atlantic is said to be warmer than usual. (Ref) (Ref)  -- Mary-Sue Haliburton (Oct. 19, 2005; 11:06 am)

Even Canada is Trembling on This One

Wilma is being described as having a "pinpoint eye", only about 7 km in diameter. This is much smaller than the usual range of hurricane eye diameters. The smaller the eye, the faster it rotates, and the stronger the winds will be. During the day Wednesday was being described as the most powerful storm ever generated in the Atlantic, and it came up fast from Category One to "Cat-Five" in a matter of hours.

Is this a hurricane, or a very big tornado? The distinction seems to be blurring...

Close-up views broadcast on the weather channel of a satellite-photo animated sequence showed a funnel shape in the centre, with no visible ocean below. Usually there's a visible "hole" in the cloud cover where the eye is centered, but as of Wednesday evening Wilma still exhibited this narrowed eye.

Predicting the path Wilma will follow has been very difficult due to its trocoidal motion. It's not moving in a straight line in any direction, but in a series of small loops. Its direction may partly be a matter of where it is in this loop when it's affected by the guiding jet stream or other factors. Depending on the track it follows, it may or may not be diminished by the dry air and wind over the gulf.

More flooding is expected. Even Canada's sodden maritime provinces are eyeing this one with dismay, as the layout of ridge and trough in the jet stream could bring the moisture-laden Wilma north to where its rainfall is definitely not needed.

Mary-Sue Haliburton (October 19, 2005 10:18 PM)

Sister Article

  • Wilma the Super Storm and Energy from the Vacuum - Reflections on the dynamics of this record-breaking hurricane, principles of physics and atmosphere, and ramifications for unlimited energy from the vacuum of space. (PESN; Oct. 21, 2005)
  • Wilma the Capacitor - Some thoughts on storm tracking and ties to electrical phenomenon of interest, both pertaining to electrical properties of hurricanes as well as their interaction with the electrical component of humans. (PESN; Oct. 26, 2005)

Related Material

  • Gulf Coast Braces For Wilma - CBS News' Trish Regan reports from New Orleans on the latest threat facing the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast. Hurricane Wilma is expected to come ashore by the weekend. (CBS News; Oct. 18, 2005)

See also


Page posted by Sterling D. Allan Oct. 18, 2005
Last updated December 24, 2014





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