The Gulf Hurricane season is due to begin.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center issued a report on May 22, 2008 with their seasonal outlook . They expect considerable hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin, with a “90 % chance of an above-normal season in the Atlantic Basin this year - and a 25% chance of a normal season.”
There is, NOOA says (remembering that this does not mean "landfalls")
a potential of 60-70 % chance of
12-16 named storms,
2-5 Major Hurricanes,
An Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) range 100%-210% of the median
This is based on 2 principal factors
1. Historical evidence that includes above-normal sea-surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean. (Cape Verde Islands etc.,)
2) Possible lingering effects from La Niña or ENSO-neutral conditions.
They point out that whilst , La Niña seems to be waning, its atmospheric impacts can persist even when Pacific Ocean temperatures have returned to normal.
The current active hurricane era began in 1995 says NOAA . Hurricane seasons during 1995-2007 have averaged 14.5 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes, with an average ACE index of 167% of the median.
Hurricane Katrina, was a Category 5 storm, achieved 175 mph winds before it dropped to Category 3 and struck Louisiana on August 29, 2005, making it the most destructive storm to ever strike the U.S. in terms of economic impact. Hurricane Rita struck the Texas coast on September 24, 2005 as a Category 3 storm having achieved sustained winds of 180 mph.
Coincident with the start of the season Englewood, Colo.-based provider of information services IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS) have reported on their studies of the impact of hurricane damge and cost over a 45 year period oil and gas production from hurricanes over a 45-year period on Gulf of Mexico production their conclusion , despite Katrina and Rita is that the overall impact is relatively modest typically short-lived.
Typically hurricanes disrupt less than 1.5% of both oil and gas production. Careful planning and a
focus on the safety of skilled personnel play a major role. Operators decide to pull crews off rigs well before storms enter the Gulf. Consequntly most costs are simply due to suspension of operations as a safety precaution if a hurricane does threaten offshore production. Consequently on average hurricane disruptions are short-lived with full production re-established within a month.”
The U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) reported that 3,050 or 75 % platforms, 22,000 miles or 67% of the pipelines, and about two-thirds of the region’s refineries were in the path of Katrina and Rita.
By mid-December the cumulative shut-in oil was 101.7 million barrels, 18.5 % annual Gulf oil production, and shut-in natural gas production was 526.2 billion cubic feet, 14.4 % of natural gas
In the last decade, after hurricanes Opal (1995), Georges (1998) and Lili (2002), production was up and running within a month. Hurricane Ivan (2004), took out 471 million barrels of oil production and 140 billion cubic feet of gas production.
These major weather events have led to the industry improving evacuation plans to improce employee safety , and shut-in and restart procedures to ensure safety and to mitigate leaks and production losses.
The MMS has mandated new design specifications for offshore facilities and has issued a series of Notices to Lessees and Operators, called NTLs, for rig fitness requirements, platform tie-downs and ocean current monitoring, which are all tied to hurricane season. Within financial limits rigs are now engineered to withstand Category 5 hurricanes.
However extraction spreads ever wider (and deeper) increasing the area of risk to production and infrastructure in the GOM area cutting critical exploration and production activities.
In 2007 the US GOM (Not Mexico) produced 476 MBO some 25% of the U.S. total, and 2.8 trillion cubic feet of gas which is about 12% of curent US consumption.Currently, there are 3,639 producing oil wells in the U.S. GOM and 3,788 gas wells.
The deeper waters continue to provide world-class oil and gas discoveries. New discoveries from 2000- 2007 have yielded to date 8.5 Bn. BOE equivalent - the 7th largest source of new global discoveries during this period. Currently, there are 3,639 producing oil wells in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, and 3,788 gas wells.
Footnote Gerry Bell , Meteorologist at the NOOA Climate Prediction Centre is famous for having spoken at a Press conference at the end of the very eventful 2005 hurricane season . New Republic magazine asked about recent reports that “global warming may have been responsible for the intensity of the storms,”
Bell stated categorically “we see absolutely no indication whatsoever that greenhouse warming is causing any of it.” Instead the storms’ intensity was “part of the multi-decadal signal that we see. It’s not related to greenhouse warming.” See New Republic John Judis, “The Government’s Junk Science,” The New Republic (November 2, 2006). It was of course the "multi - decadal signal that forecast a 70-80 year event - which was remarked on in a post 8th April 04 THE BIG BANG THEORY – The Bigger the Bang, the Louder the Silence
"The National Weather Service in the US expects a major Hurricane every 70-80 years. One is overdue. If a Force 4 or 5 step Saffir Simpson hurricane force scale hits the Gulf of Mexico this year, the impact on gas and gasoline supplies in the US will make 9/11 look like a tea party in terms of economic cost to the US economy. An economy already saddled with massive and rising double deficitsin trade and internal budgets."
Climatologists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City noted that the highest global annual average surface temperature in more than a century was recorded in their analysis for the 2005 calendar year. This temperature anomaly chart for the year is worth examining.
Note that the Arctic has warmed significantly. These temperatures are from Dec. 2004 through Nov. 2005. Click image to enlarge Credit: NASA
This link will take you to an animation by decade of the increase in annual mean temperature in ten year increments from 1891 through 1996. It is evident that the trends observed for a warmer climate are seen at high latitudes,not near the equator, the birthplace of the Atlantic Hurricanes that end up in the GOM / Texas/ Lousiana etc.
Why are temperatures rising in comparatively higher in high latitudes than near the equator? An uncomfortable truth that the current explanation of anthropogenic sorces of forcing "greenhouse gases" has difficulty explaining.