July 27, 2010
Marshall: Dodging Bullets in the Gulf
By Bob Marshall
No news was good news for Louisiana's estuaries last weekend when Tropical Storm Bonnie fell apart.
Instead of evaluating the worst-case scenario feared since the beginning of BP's oil disaster - a storm surge pushing oil deep into coastal wetlands - sportsmen Monday were getting back to fishing. And fishing has been great.
Flying out to the Deepwater Horizon site Sunday I spotted only tiny patches of weathered oil. There was thin sheen in some places, but the Gulf from the drilling sight from the delta of the Mississippi River looked like it always does after a weekend of windy weather.
But nervous times are far from over. We may have dodged another bullet, but the opposition has plenty of ammo left. We're only just approaching the peak of hurricane season. Water temperature in the Gulf is above the average, hitting about 85 degrees, which means there's plenty of raw material for storm development. And two unusual atmospheric events that have kept storms at bay probably won't last much longer, meteorologists say.
The first is an upper level low pressure system that has been sheering the tops off thunderstorms in the Gulf; this is what turned Bonnie into a nice lady. The other is the positioning of a high pressure cell - the so-called Bermuda High - a little farther west than is normal.
So it's back to catching specks and reds, flounder and drum, and preparing for teal season -- until the next scare. Because with more than 150 million gallons of oil released into the Gulf over the last four months, no one is sure what to expect when that first storm surge rolls in.