Marine Forecast and Hindcast for Hurricane Ike 2008 The CCM as a Marine and Tropical Meteorologist

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010: 1:45 PM
B214 (GWCC)
Jill F. Hasling, Weather Research Center, Houston, TX

Presentation PDF (1.8 MB)

The 2008 Hurricane Season was very costly for the Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas industry. Gulf of Mexico exploration and production companies have lost 175 structures since 2004 due to the impacts of Hurricane Ivan 2004, Hurricane Katrina 2005, Hurricane Rita 2005, Hurricane Gustav 2008, and Hurricane Ike 2008. Prior to Ivan, the most significant hurricane impact to the Gulf of Mexico exploration and production infrastructure was from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, during which 22 offshore structures were destroyed or damaged. Most of the offshore damage from hurricanes is caused by waves.

The offshore industry spent a great deal of money to understand what happened during Ivan, Katrina and Rita. Ivan caused the first 100 ft wave to ever be measured during a Gulf of Mexico hurricane. Special committees met and operation and design requirements were updated as a result of what was learned from these hurricanes. By the beginning of the 2008 hurricane season, industry operators felt they had a better understanding of Gulf of Mexico hurricanes. But, then came Ike.

There are few private sector companies that provide daily marine and tropical forecasts. There are even fewer Certified Consulting Meteorologists providing these forecasts. Hurricane Ike was a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir/Simpson Scale but it was also a very large storm, creating a difficult job for the CCM to communicate the significant threat Ike posed to the offshore oil and gas industry. Using GIS as a tool, the CCM was able to depict the number of offshore properties that would be exposed to high waves and would possibly experience damage or be destroyed by the storm.

The CCM's job is not over after a storm passes. Almost immediately, the forensics start with gathering and archiving data that will be used to hindcast the storm to better understand its impacts. Hurricane Ike left the offshore industry confused and frustrated. How could a Category 2 hurricane cause so much devastation? The CCM was asked to investigate this and it was done by hindcasting significant past Gulf of Mexico hurricanes. The result was a finding that SIZE MATTERS when it comes to a storm's ability to generate large offshore waves.