* This post has been updated to reflect a July 3 “clarification” issued by NOAA. In the announcement, NOAA oceanographers downplayed the threat to south Florida and said a previous report was intended to describe long-term scenarios. Read the clarification here.
NOAA says there’s a 60 to 80 percent chance that the Florida Keys, Miami and Fort Lauderdale will see some oil come ashore
SUMMIT COUNTY — Residents of south Florida have a better than 50 percent chance of seeing oil from the Deepwater Horizon well blowout showing up on their beaches in the coming weeks and months.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Much of Florida’s Gulf Coast — outside the panhandle — should remain oil-free, but farther south, in the Keys, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, there’s a 60 to 80 percent chance that at least some remnants of weather oil will reach the shore if it drifts in the Loop Current and is then steered ashore by winds and tides.
Under current conditions, NOAA said there’s no immediate threat to south Florida, with most of the oil still entrained in an eddy that’s not connected to the Loop Current.
Previously, the federal agency told South Florida residents the oil would arrive in the form of “pancakes, emulsified pudding, sheen and tar balls. Read about it here.
The July 2 report from NOAA is based on computer models that evaluated 500 different scenarios based on a 90-day oil spill rate of about 33,000 barrels per day. According to NOAA, that’s the net amount of oil currently escaping the failed well, taking into account BP’s efforts to capture the oil, as well as skimming and burning oil from the surface.
The agency released the report to help responders get ahead of the game by letting them know what to expect. Here’s the summary from the report:
• The coastlines with the highest probability for impact (81 to 100 percent) extend from the Mississippi River Delta to the western panhandle of Florida where there has been and will likely continue to be oil impacts.
• Along U.S. Gulf of Mexico shorelines, the oil is more likely to move east than west, with much of the coast of Texas showing a relatively low probability of oiling (ranging from less than one percent in southern Texas to up to 40 percent near the Louisiana border).
• Much of the west coast of Florida has a low probability (20 percent down to less than one percent) of oiling, but the Florida Keys, Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas have a greater probability (61 to 80 percent) due to the potential influence of the Loop Current. Any oil reaching this area would have spent considerable time degrading and dispersing and would be in the form of scattered tar balls and not a large surface slick of oil.
• There is a low probability of shoreline impacts from eastern central Florida up the Eastern Seaboard (20 percent diminishing to less than one percent). Potential impacts become increasingly unlikely north of North Carolina as the Gulf Stream moves away from the continental U.S. at Cape Hatteras. If oil does reach these areas, it will be in the form of tar balls or highly weathered oil.
The threat outlined in the model does not necessarily indicate that oil will come ashore. Whether or not oil comes ashore will depend upon wind and ocean currents at the time. In addition to these and other natural factors, booms and other countermeasures could be used to mitigate the actual coastal contact.
NOAA’s updates on the projected path of the oil are online here. http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/deepwaterhorizon/longterm_outlook.
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment Tagged: | Environment, Gulf oil spill, NOAA, oil spill and Florida Keys, Oil spill Miami, path of oilspill, Summit County, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News