Drifters make a run south

oil spill drifter

Oil spill drifter

The Oil Spill Recovery Institute and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation have collaborated on the release of oil spill tracking buoys to better understand potential oil spill trajectories.  Two buoys were released near the Valdez tanker terminal on December 5.

For five days there was little wind and the buoys remained near the port of Valdez.  Wednesday night everything took a dramatic change.  The winds changed from calm to blowing around 30 knots.

Drifter positions for the seven days since their release.

Drifter positions for the seven days since their release.

Like an oil spill, the buoy trajectories are influenced by the wind and they began a rapid exit out of the Valdez area and headed south.  In the last day and a half the drifters have traveled nearly 60 miles to the south.  They have now left the region with the strong influence of winds down Valdez Arm and are circulating within Prince William Sound.

We expect that they may continue to work their way south and if they avoid going aground will exit Prince William Sound and begin their travel to the west.