Tropical Storm Richard forms, may threaten US Gulf oil and gas operations next week

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Don’t count out this year’s hurricane season yet. The 17th named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season formed in the Caribbean Sea Thursday, packing sustained winds measuring 40 miles per hour. 

Look to PennEnergy and its daily Global Offshore Weather Report for up-to-date video coverage of offshore wind, waves and weather for the Gulf of Mexico.

The National Hurricane Center expects the storm to intensify, strengthening as it moves over the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. Located about 220 miles south-southeast of Grand Cayman, Tropical Storm Richard is expected turn toward the Yucatan Peninsula and hit Belize and Mexico within days.

With tropical storm-force winds extending 105 miles from the eye of the storm, Richard may drop up to 8 inches of rain over Jamaica as it passes.

Picking up strength as it labors across the Caribbean, the storm is currently traveling at a rate of 6 miles per hour. The storm may strengthen into Hurricane Richard during the weekend. 

Hurricane Richard May Hit US Gulf Coast

If the storm maintains its strength, it could pose a threat to the US Gulf Coast next week, advises global weather authority ImpactWeather.

ImpactWeather warns that once in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Richard may track toward the Northeast Gulf Coast by next Thursday, possibly making landfall between Pensacola and Tampa Bay, Florida.

“Across the Gulf of Mexico, squalls associated with Richard's outer bands could reach the deepwater areas off southeast Louisiana, to include Mississippi Canyon, during the day on Wednesday,” advises ImpactWeather. “So the last full good weather day for any evacuations off the southeast Louisiana coast would likely be Tuesday. We do not expect the squalls to reach as far west Green Canyon or Garden Banks.”

Oil and gas operators in the US Gulf of Mexico have been on heightened alert this hurricane season, evacuating drilling rigs and production platforms days in advance in an effort to maintain safety. No producers or drilling contracts have reported evacuations due to Tropical Storm Richard as of yet.

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