Blame Exxon Valdez on Captain Bligh; Midwest Storms


valdez-otter

1300 Miles of Coast Affected

1300 Miles of Coast Affected

On This Date in History:

   The press loves anniveraries in years that have a nice ring to it.  You wouldn’t hear of the 19th annivesary of an event.  But, the next year on the 20th anniversary, well then its big news.  Today is the 20th anniversary of one of the biggest environmental disasters in world history and the biggest one in US history…at least man-made disasters.  On this date in 1989, the Exxon Valdez dumped a bunch of oil into Prince William Sound and spoiled some 1300 miles of coastline.  It is estimated that some 250,000 seabirds died as a result of the spill.  A year later, it was found that the normal killer whale pod of 36 that roamed the area had been depleted by 14.  There were also about 1000 sea otters that died as well as 151 bald eagles.  In 2003, it was estimated that about 20,000 gallons of oil remained soaked in the sands of the region, which poses a continual threat to wildlife.

Ship Unloads What Was Left of Valdez Oil

Ship Unloads What Was Left of Valdez Oil

I’m not going to go into detail about the event.  You can get that from your news source.  The beef that I always have on this subject is the reporting.  The report was that 11 million gallons of oil was spilled.  That would be fine except that the media always reports oil usage and the price of oil in barrels.  Why not spills?  I have speculated in a previous post that the media does this to make it sexier…that is…sound as bad as possible.  If it’s “Big Oil” it must be bad.  I mean, if they said that it was 257,000 barrels of oil that spilled, that sounds bad…but not as bad as 11 million gallons.  I know the reason is that the general public can’t relate to a barrel of oil, but it can relate to gallons.  But, if that’s the case, why not report all issues regarding crude oil in gallons?  Nevertheless, it was  a terrible accident and one thing that baffles some experts is that Exxon-Mobil still uses a  number of single hull supertankers. Though its reported as about 6% of its shipping, it’s still more than any other oil company and that seems surprising given the negative publicity of the Exxon Valdez. Even the sister ship of the Valdez, which also has a single hull, still goes into  Prince William Sound regularly.  Single hull ships are cheaper to rent than double hulled ones but Exxon claims the estimated $18 million it saves annually by using the single hulled ships is not a consideration.  To be fair, that is a drop in the bucket for the company.  Royal Dutch Shell is the largest operator of tankers in Europe and only uses single hull ships when there are no double hulled ones available.  That only accounts for about 1.8% of its shipping needs.  It’s a mystery why Exxon-Mobil hasn’t jumped on board as the other major oil companies have done.

Anyway, here are some facts that you won’t get from your media source.  The Exxon-Valdez ran aground at 12:04 AM on March 24, 1989.  The Captain, Joseph Hazelwood had been seen drinking in a bar prior to the ship’s departure.  But, that was not the cause of the accident.  The captain was in his quarters and had sent a message to the bridge to steer the ship back into the shipping lanes after it had maneuvered to avoid icebergs.  The helmsman never got the message.  Ultimately, it was a lack of internal communication that was the root cause. 

Captain William Bligh

Captain William Bligh

The 987 foot ship ran aground on Bligh Reef, which  is off of Bligh Island.  The reef is well known as another famous wreck happened there in 1910 when the Olympia of the Alaska Steamship Company ran aground.  The island and the reef were named for the infamous Captain Bligh, who was an officer with Captain James Cook when the explorer who found the Hawaiian Islands was rummaging around Alaska in 1778, which was eleven years prior to Bligh

I Think Charles Laughton in 1935 Made a Better Bligh Than the Real Bligh

I Think Charles Laughton in 1935 Made a Better Bligh Than the Real Bligh

becoming a Captain and getting his HMS Bounty taken from him near Tahiti.  That’s another story but I bet you didn’t know that the story ends up with Bligh navigating an open boat about 23 feet long full of 19 men some 3600 miles.  He was really quite a seaman, but the movies don’t tell you all of that.  There is also Resolution Cove near Bligh Island where Cook took his ship, HMS Resolution, for repairs.  What was Cook doing in Alaska? Searching for the mythical Northwest Passage.  Cook went on to Hawaii where he was subsequently killed and Bligh performed some heroic acts that got him noticed back home.  Eventually, Bligh became a Vice-Admiral in the Royal Navy.

If you want to vacation on Bligh Island, here is some information on it…though I don’t think I’d plan a trip in the winter. 

SPC Convective Outlook 8am Tue to 8am Wed

SPC Convective Outlook 8am Tue to 8am Wed

Tue Tornado Threat

Tue Tornado Threat

Weather Bottom Line:

Tue Wind Threat

Tue Wind Threat

  Everything is shaping up as expected.  They had some big old storms in the midwest.  Really pretty wild with Valentine, NE getting the booby prize.  I think they recorded a high of something like 66 on Monday and by the end of the day, they had a blizzard warning.  Before that they were under A Severe Thunderstorm Watch, A Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning for a tornado on the ground nearby.  All of that energy zips up to the northeast on Tuesday.  There will be big storms to our west but by the time the front gets here, the energy will have lifted away and it will be the

SPC Threat Wed

SPC Threat Wed

SPC Fri & Sat Threat

SPC Fri & Sat Threat

overnight period so look for some t’storms with gusty winds on Tuesday night but not much excitement.  A piece of the energy breaks off to the south on Wednesday giving parts of Texas some action.  That stuff pivots around us through the Dixie states on Thursday and we may get a shower or two out of that but that’s it.  Our temperatures will be above seasonal averages for the latter half of the week after getting to the mid to maybe upper 70’s on Tuesday.  We’ll be cooler for the last 3 days of the week but not cold by any stretch.  Now, the SPC has the risk for strong storms to our south on Saturday, but I still think we need to keep an eye out for some strong activity here.  We’ll see how the SPC alters their areas of concern as we go through the week.

 DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK 
   NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
   1255 AM CDT TUE MAR 24 2009
  
   VALID 241200Z – 251200Z
  
   …THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS FROM E TX/WRN-NRN LA TO MID MS
   VALLEY…
  
   …SYNOPSIS…
  

Tue Hail Threat

Tue Hail Threat

MID/UPPER LEVEL LOW CENTERED OVER SD AT 12Z TODAY IS EXPECTED TO
   BECOME NEGATIVELY TILTED AS IT TRACKS ENEWD ACROSS THE UPPER MS
   VALLEY.  THIS EVOLUTION WILL OCCUR AS A SHORT WAVE TROUGH EMANATING
   FROM THE SRN ROCKIES MOVES THROUGH THE SRN/CENTRAL PLAINS THIS
   MORNING…AND THEN TRACKS NEWD THROUGH THE LOWER MO VALLEY TO WRN
   GREAT LAKES REGION BY 12Z WEDNESDAY.  IN THE LOW LEVELS…SURFACE
   LOW IS EXPECTED TO SLOWLY FILL/OCCLUDE AS IT TRACKS ENEWD FROM ERN
   SD INTO CENTRAL MN TODAY…AND THEN DEEPEN AGAIN TONIGHT IN RESPONSE
   TO NEGATIVE TILT OF UPPER SYSTEM.  MEANWHILE…A SECONDARY LOW
   SHOULD FORM ALONG THE COLD FRONT IN NRN MO AND TRACK NEWD INTO SRN
   WI…WITH THE TRAILING COLD FRONT SPREADING EWD THROUGH THE UPPER/
   MID MS VALLEY AND ARKLATEX REGION/E TX.  THIS FRONT SHOULD REACH THE
   CENTRAL GREAT LAKES…LOWER TN/MS VALLEYS TO S TX BY 12Z WEDNESDAY.
  
   …ERN TX/NWRN LA TO MID MS VALLEY…
   SSWLY LOW LEVEL FLOW ACROSS THE WARM SECTOR WILL MAINTAIN MOISTURE
   RETURN TODAY IN ADVANCE OF THE COLD FRONT.  SURFACE DEWPOINTS IN THE
   LOWER 60S SHOULD REACH INTO THE ARKLATEX REGION EWD THROUGH THE
   LOWER MS VALLEY.  MEANWHILE…SELY SURFACE TRAJECTORIES EMANATING
   FROM A DRIER AIR MASS ACROSS THE OH/TN VALLEYS SHOULD LIMIT THE
   BREADTH OF THE NRN EXTENT OF THE WARM SECTOR/MOISTURE RETURN ACROSS
   THE MID MS VALLEY INTO UPPER MIDWEST.
  
   AT 12Z TODAY…TSTMS ARE EXPECTED TO BE ONGOING ALONG THE COLD FRONT
   FROM ERN/SRN IA THROUGH WRN MO TO CENTRAL OK.  INSTABILITY WILL BE
   WEAKER /MLCAPE BELOW 500 J/KG/ FROM MO THROUGH THE MID MS VALLEY.
   HOWEVER…STRONG FORCING FOR ASCENT ALONG THE ADVANCING COLD FRONT
   AND AHEAD OF THE CENTRAL/SRN PLAINS SHORT WAVE TROUGH SHOULD
   COMPENSATE FOR THE WEAK INSTABILITY AND SUPPORT AN EWD MOVING SQUALL
   LINE.  FARTHER S…FORCING FOR ASCENT WILL BE WEAKER INTO THE
   ARKLATEX REGION AND ERN TX…THOUGH GREATER INSTABILITY /MLCAPE
   500-1000 J/KG/ AND SURFACE HEATING SHOULD COMPENSATE ALLOWING FOR
   TSTM DEVELOPMENT SWD ALONG AND AHEAD OF THE COLD FRONT.
  
   PRIMARY SEVERE THREAT IS EXPECTED TO BE DAMAGING WINDS…ESPECIALLY
   FROM ERN OK INTO CENTRAL AR AND THE SRN HALF OF MO WHERE THE
   GREATEST FRONTAL SURGE IS FORECAST AND GIVEN 40-50+ KT SOUTHWESTERLY
   MEAN FLOW.  A STRONG SSWLY LLJ /50-60 KT/ EXTENDING FROM THE
   ARKLATEX TO MID MS VALLEY WILL PROMOTE LARGE LOW LEVEL HODOGRAPH
   CURVATURE AND THE POTENTIAL FOR TORNADOES.  AT THIS TIME…THE
   GREATEST TORNADO THREAT IS EXPECTED TO BE FROM SERN OK/ARKLATEX
   REGION TO SRN MO WHERE INSTABILITY WILL BE GREATER AND DEEP LAYER
   SHEAR VECTORS ARE FAVORABLY ORIENTED FOR SOME DISCRETE STORMS/
   SUPERCELLS.  SEVERE WEATHER THREAT SHOULD PERSIST INTO THE
   EVENING/OVERNIGHT PERIOD ACROSS SRN AR TO E TX/LA WHERE
   INSTABILITY/SHEAR PARAMETERS WILL FAVOR A CONTINUED POTENTIAL FOR
   ORGANIZED STORMS.
  
   …UPPER MS VALLEY…
   IF DIABATIC HEATING CAN OCCUR INVOF OCCLUDED SURFACE LOW…SETUP
   WILL BE FAVORABLE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF LOW-TOPPED TSTMS TODAY.
   ALTHOUGH VERTICAL SHEAR WILL NOT BE STRONG OWING TO THE CLOSE
   PROXIMITY TO DEEP-LAYER LOW CENTER…STEEP MID LEVEL LAPSE RATES AND
   COLD MID LEVEL TEMPERATURES SHOULD SUPPORT SOME HAIL WITH THE MORE
   INTENSE TSTMS.
  
   ..PETERS/GARNER.. 03/24/2009

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4 Responses

  1. “He was really quite a seaman, but the movies don’t tell you all of that.”

    Actually, in the 1936 film, we get Laughton-Bligh as a very capable seaman (if a lousy Human Resources manager, LOL). All through the film sailors make coments as to what a complete b*st*rd Bligh is, but admire him for his seamanship… And then, in the same film, we have Bligh’s trip to Timor, and Laughton makes Bligh look a real leader determined not to loose the lives of any of the men in the boat, and reach a safe port. It is an epic sequence of the film, and Laughton is relly moving when he reaches Timor “We’ve beaten the sea itself!”

  2. I guess I didn’t notice that. Some accounts that I have read suggest that the portrayal of him as a tyrant wasn’t atypical of most British captains of the time. I guess what I was referring to is that no one really talks about his 3600 mile journey in the open boat, which is quite remarkable. Thanx for the insight.

  3. Your a joke

  4. You may be correct but at least I know how to spell and use proper grammar and punctuation. Your retort does not suggest that you have any of those skills and therefore raises the question as to the credibility of your opinion. Nevertheless, thanx for chiming in. I’m sure everyone is better for having read your insightful and well thought out comment.

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