The graphic you see below is from the National Hurricane Center. The red circle, halfway between Africa and South America, represents a weather pattern that has a likelihood of over 50 percent of developing into a tropical storm. This would be the first tropical storm of the 2010 season.
The chances that this particular weather pattern will develop into a hurricane that will smash through the Gulf of Mexico and disrupt efforts to contain and clean up the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling oil spill are not very high. However, weather in hurricane season is difficult to predict. The chances of at least one powerful storm crossing the Gulf of Mexico before hurricane season is through are extremely high.
At the end of last week, Republican U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen commented on the growing chances of a disastrous confluence of the oil spill and a hurricane. She said, “Federal agencies need to come up with a plan in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane in the gulf. Hurricane season has just started. Experts at the National Hurricane Center predict that the 2010 hurricane season could be one of the most active on record. Forecasters are predicting anywhere between 14 to 23 named storms this season. Of course, it only takes one. Just ask the Florida residents who suffered through Hurricane Andrew, or just ask those residents in New Orleans who are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
In addition to a predicted active storm season, our communities are now saddled with the uncertainty of an oil spill. The ruptured oil rig is located right in the middle of hurricane alley. Scientists have suggested that the sheer strength of a hurricane could turn the oil slick into a devastating black surf. I shudder to think of the long-term economic devastation and environmental damage caused by this toxic combination.”