With torrential rain and huge surf all week from the late hurricane Alex, spending time outside this week was almost as impossible as it was on the insanely hot days of last week. With that, minimal oil product has been reported or needing to be cleaned up on the beach in the last two weeks. The beaches have remained clean, and what product that has come ashore has been cleaned up within hours. Not once has landfall been that to where beach closure was warranted.
Easterly and southeasterly winds have continued to keep the plume away from us. As of right now, we are not within the NOAA projected 72 hour of uncertainty. This is good news for those that are wanting to come down for the Annual Fourth of July Celebrations that take place at Pier Park every year. At this point, all Florida beaches are open, and the beaches in Panama City Beach are looking amazing.
At this point, more than 300 personnel are walking the beach continuously during the day patrolling for oil with around 30 workers working at night.
Rough seas have kept workers from working on the booming system being installed in the pass. From Bay County:
Thursday was the project’s eighth day, and Schnell said that despite the delays, he still believes the 24-day build out is still attainable.
“We’re still working toward that July 16 completion date,” Schnell said. “We’re striving to meet that.”
A total of 15 pilings have been placed thus far.
Meanwhile, though, work continues at Port Panama City on fusing the plastic high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe that will be attached to the pilings to act as boom. Schnell said that as of mid-day Thursday, some 500 feet had been fused.
In the middle of the channel, a 400-foot hinged boom gate will allow for opening or closing the pass and diverting the oil products to the sides, where skimming vessels will be used on either side of the project to collect oil.
The hinged boom in the center of the pass will allow boat traffic to come and go with the outgoing tide and will be closed to traffic with the incoming tide, if oil is actively being removed from the area. The gates will remain open if oil is not a threat to the bay.
Onshore winds (SE/S) are forecast through next week, with speeds decreasing from approximately 20 knots Wednesday to 11–14 knots by Saturday. These strong onshore winds will continue to move the northern edge of the slick northwest, threatening the barrier islands of Mississippi/Alabama and the Florida Panhandle west of Freeport, Florida. The Chandeleur Islands, Breton Sound, and the Mississippi Delta also continue to be threatened by shoreline contacts. To the west of the Delta, these winds may bring oil ashore between Barataria Bay and Caillou Bay – any remaining floating oil may be moved quickly to the west due to the development of a strong westward coastal current in this region.
From the Florida DEP:
A 5-15 knot east winds will continue today across the northern-central gulf but will increase to 10-20 knots Saturday through Sunday. This in addition to a 40-60% chance of rain and 3-5 foot seas may hamper some oil recovery efforts both onshore and offshore through the weekend. A predominant east wind and ocean current flow will push the oil plume westward and NOAA trajectories continue to predict impacts across the western panhandle mostly near Pensacola Bay through Sunday. Offshore, no significant amounts of oil are within or moving towards Eddy Franklin and there is no clear path for oil to enter the Florida Straits
- Sert Gator – a real time map that shows where oil is being reported. I look at this several times a day.
- Bay County Newsletter – They are sending these updates out everyday around 6 pm. There is always useful and up to date information included.
- Bay County Emergency Operations Incident Plan – Always has up to date information regarding the Gulf oil spill as it relates to Bay County.
- Florida DEP Updates – New updates usually twice daily
- NOAA Trajectories
Here are some ways to keep up with the latest.