photo: Climate Progress
We've known this was a possibility from the start and feared it: It now seems the worst-case scenario for spreading the oil gushing from the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon is starting. Climate Progress points out that oil has now spread enough for the Loop Current to pick it up and drag it through the Florida Keys.Meteorologist Jeff Masters (the emphasis is CP's):
The latest surface current forecasts from NOAA's HYCOM model show that oil could continue pouring into the Loop Current for most of the rest of the week. It is highly uncertain how diluted the oil might get on its voyage to northwestern Cuba and the Florida Keys this week, but the possibility for a major ecological disaster in the fragile Keys ecosystem cannot be ruled out.
As for the implications, Think Progress quotes Jeff Hoffmeyer from the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Fisheries Research. Speaking a week ago Hoffmeyer said:
If it gets entrained into the Loop [Current], it's up into the Atlantic. And who knows where it's going to go from there. As it moves around Florida, the next...critical area would be the Florida Keys and the coral reefs we have down there. I don't even want to think about that area being covered in oil. Once it works its way up the East Coast and potentially crossing the Atlantic, it could be far-reaching.
UPDATE: NOAA on Tar Balls in Florida
The Oil Drum has a good summary of a NOAA press conference on all this. This gist is that:
1) tar balls found in Florida may or may not be from the Deepwater Horizon spill; 2) By the time oil gets to Florida it will be more diluted than closer to the main spill site; and 3) Only a small portion of the oil is near the Loop Current right now ("dozens of miles away").
More on the BP Oil Spill:
Must See Aerial Footage of BP Oil Spill Shows 'The Gulf Bleeding' (Video)
First Underwater Images of the Gulf Oil Spill (What BP Won't Show You)
Oil Spill Expert: BP Dangerously Using Two Conflicting Clean Up Technologies (Video)