01 October, 2011

Saturday Evening, 1 October

Again from Don...

"Island Girl is slowly making her way southwest across the Gulf of Mexico.  Her flying speeds are unusually low, but the NOAA surface wind chart for today shows that the entire Gulf of Mexico is subject to winds out of the southwest at 15-20 knots (in other words, she's flying into a direct headwind).

Here is her GPS data for the 3 most recent signals:

30 Sep 2300Z (6 p.m. local) - flying southwest at 26 km/h (16 mph)
01 Oct 0700Z (2 a.m. local) - 0 velocity, presumably roosting on an oil rig
01 Oct 1500Z (10 a.m. local) - flying southwest at 24 km/h (15 mph)

Let's hope she finds another resting place today - she's not likely to make landfall soon at those speeds (although she did alter her course this morning towards the Texas coastline)."

So Island Girl is making her way out over the Gulf right now. Sounds like the weather could be much better. Headwinds that strong (15-20 knots) are very difficult to overcome.

At last signal she was about 89 miles off the Mississippi Delta but moving WSW which is towards Padre Island 320 miles away.

Fortunately, she is flying over the Texas-Louisiana Shelf, an area of relatively shallow waters near the Sonnier Banks. If you look at the tracking maps and click on the hybrid version, you can clearly see the extensive continental shelf in her area.

This relatively shallow region features a very dense concentration of offshore drilling platforms. In fact, some references state that there are over 6,000 platforms in the area. Fortunately,  the greatest concentrations are located exactly where Island Girl is moving right now. Distribution maps show a dense band of oil rigs extending east-west all the way across the Gulf, from New Orleans to Padre Island. If she keeps heading for Texas, she should be able to stop off on any one of a number of platforms.

And, of course, there are also bouys, ships and who knows what else floating around out there. Let's hope she continues WSW.

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