Strong Wind Shifts Impact Marine Operations in the GOM
by Daphne Thompson, on Dec 13, 2018 2:29:08 PM
A strong cold front is currently heading towards the Gulf of Mexico and will produce elevated winds and seas from now through Saturday. Southerly winds of 20-30 knots are expected ahead of the front. Behind the front, winds will be westerly to northwesterly at 30-40 knots with gusts over 50 knots. Wind shifts like this can result in disruptive impacts to many marine operations and especially for dynamic positioned vessels.
Dynamic positioned vessels use a complex system of computer-controlled thrusters to maintain their positions and sudden changes in weather conditions can pose significant difficulties. If one of these ships were to experience a substantial wind shift without proper preparation, they could disconnect from their well. This action can then lead to not only damage to the vessel, but also negative impacts to the environment due to spilled product.
WeatherOps customers leverage advanced warnings of impending wind shifts to make preparations including changing the vessels orientation, position, and suspending or rescheduling operations. Typically, significant wind shifts are defined as winds of 25 knots or stronger on either side of the shift with a directional change of at least 45 degrees over 2 hours or less.
From WeatherOps HALO alerting, the initial notification of a potential wind shift comes around 48 hours in advance in the form of a Marine Weather Watch. Then about 24 hours out, advisories or marine weather warnings are issued with additional information on the timing of the shift. A final “Wind Shift Warning” is released 6 hours ahead of the impending wind shift.