Hurricane season's first tropical disturbance continues trek toward Gulf of Mexico

By Phaedra Friend Troy 

The first major storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, a tropical wave is currently located in the Western Caribbean Sea, close to Honduras and Nicaragua. The storm is expected to travel into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. WATCH NOW

Traveling at speeds of about 12 miles per hour, the tropical depression is packing severe thunderstorms, rain and winds.

“It’s poorly organized today -- most of the storms are to the east of the center,” advised Lauren Whisenhunt, meteorologist with ImpactWeather.

Because of this, the likelihood of the storm strengthening into a tropical depression in the next 48 hours has dwindled from 30 percent to 20 percent. Nonetheless, the storm still packs a heavy punch.

“It is producing widespread thunderstorms across Jamaica and Hispanola; also heavy rainfall is expected,” reported Whisenhunt in PennEnergy’s daily Global Offshore Weather Report for June 24.

The storm is expected to travel in a west-northwesterly direction over the next few days, entering the Gulf of Mexico by Sunday.

“Another possibility with this system if it does develop, once it passes the Yucatan it would take on a more of a northerly track,” warned Whisenhunt. “This would increase the risk of landfall along the northern Gulf Coast.”

Hurricanes entering the Gulf pose a unique threat to offshore infrastructure, including drilling rigs, production platforms and subsea pipelines. Additionally, coastal refineries and processing plants can be affected by these storms -- all of which affects production, distribution, and usually the price of oil and natural gas. 

After sustaining widespread damage from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Dolly and Ike, as well as other recent hurricanes, the petroleum industry has fortified its safety measures to withstand the strong winds and waves of hurricanes.

Also affected by hurricanes entering the Gulf of Mexico is the oil spill containment and clean-up measuresBP is currently working on an enhanced oil spill containment system that will better weather an oncoming hurricane.

Look to PennEnergy’s Global Offshore Weather Report daily to find out the most up-to-date information about this storm, as well as wind, weather and wave information for the nine busiest offshore regions worldwide.

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