Oil Spill in Gulf + Hurricane = ???

The recent oil spill in the Gulf brought up a question in my mind that I think only the SD board could answer. I live off of the Gulf, and we’re slowly approaching hurricane season (ugh), so I’m wondering what would happen if this disaster had occurred later in the year and a strong hurricane rolled into the Gulf? Would the hurricane be able to pick up oily water or tarballs and deposit them on land? Would it push the oil toward land via the storm surge? Here’s to hoping that this spill is contained or cleaned up before hurricane season starts!

It’s hard to know exactly what would happen. Something perhaps comparable happened during Hurricane Katrina, however – millions of gallons of oil and refined petroleum products leaked from on-shore refineries and pipelines during the 2005 hurricane (link is PDF). The nine leaks outlined on the first page totalled just over 8 million gallons combined – and there are nine more (presumably small) leaks besides those shown on the pg 3 map. The US Coast Guard estimate of the number of spills was higher still – about 44 oil spills (link also gives specific information about the infamous Murphy Oil spill in St. Bernard Parish).

Now, those leaks did not spill oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but they did let loose a lot of oil into the SE LA wetlands. Oil in the marshes, according to the PDF, was largely cleaned by burning it away.

One thing I found interesting in the PDF linked above is at the bottom left of the second page – about 38% of the spilled oil from the Murphy spill simply “evaporated” (verbatim from text). Oil can evaporate? Never knew that.


Actually, the churning might help form more areas of emulsion, oil and water mixed into a foam-kinda substance that’s significantly worse than just oil on the surface. That and/or it would help disperse the slick, alternately speeding its dissipation or spreading the destruction.

Didn’t I recently start a thread about this?

^^ Yes, and it was about the third one on the topic IIRC.