AIR Report Analyzes Potential Hurricane ‘Implications’ of Gulf Oil Spill

June 1, 2010

Catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide has released a report that examines the implications of the Gulf oil spill on the upcoming hurricane season as well as indications of what this might mean to wildlife, ecosystems, business, and insurance interests.

AIR noted that the oil spill, following the April 20th explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform, “is the first of its kind and magnitude, and threatens to reach a new scale of costs associated with long-term pollution cleanup, business interruption, and response costs.”

In addition the timing of the spill means that a “potentially important, additional complicating factor may come into play with the start of hurricane season June 1st.”

AIR asked: “Will the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico be different now that oil has surfaced and begun spreading? In particular, will the oil on the surface affect individual storms as they approach the area?”

The report concluded that there are “two possible ways that an oil slick might directly affect hurricanes: through changes to the initial hurricane formation or through changes to a hurricane that has already formed. Both processes result from the tendency that oil would have to cut the atmosphere off from the underlying ocean.”

AIR explained that “crude oil is light and floats in water, then tends to spread out. A surface covered with oil would prevent water from evaporating. In addition, because oil is more viscous than water, it does not easily form ripples when the wind blows. Ripples represent the first stage in the development of high seas, which later contribute to storm surge, ocean swell, and high surf.”

To read the full report, go to:

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