Like some novel you just can’t put down, the story unfolding in the Gulf contains more twists and turns than anything Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever put out. Now, it seems the very elements themselves are threatening to make the spill an even greater disaster as Tropical Storm Alex comes wobbling into the area like some drunken sailor who’s had one too many. Alex, the first named storm of the young hurricane season will more than likely continue on it west to northwest heading and, if so, will miss the spill area entirely. But, there is always the possibility that it might do something screwy and head right for the stricken region. Should that happen there will be no previous scenario for BP or America to fall back on as the massive oil slick could be pushed far inland by high winds and waves. Such an action would further complicate an already complex situation, especially considering the fact that the leak may not be stopped until mid August, if even then.
According to two leading hurricane forecasters, Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray, they ‘foresee a very active hurricane season in 2010.’ They have recently published a paper in which the feel the probability of a major Hurricane striking the Gulf to be as high as 50% in 2010 versus an average probability of 30% seen in ‘normal’ years. They are, in point of fact, forecasting as many as double the number of named hurricanes forming over waters that have already hit temperatures more in line with August than with late June (this according to a recent article by Neil Johnson, a writer for TBO.com).
So right now, just about everyone connected with the spill is scrambling to come up with procedures and plans that may need to be deployed quickly in the face of rapidly changing conditions. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who’s heading the federal cleanup operation, says he’ll have to be ready to redeploy people and equipment to safer areas 120 hours (five days) in advance of gale-force winds, and he agreed there is “no playbook” when it comes to responding to a massive oil spill as a storm brews.