Oil spill enters Loop Current with Florida at risk

US scientists say that oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico has reached the Loop Current, which could propel the oil towards the coast of Florida.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), limited amounts of oil have entered the current, and could reach Florida’s coast in as few as six days, although it would be highly diluted by the time it did so. Other estimates place the time before oil reaches Florida as closer to ten days.

Satellite images show oil moving south from the main slick into the current, which is a rapidly-moving body of water that flows from the Caribbean Sea towards the Atlantic Ocean. The speed of the current is predicted to disperse the oil that is picked up, which would lead to difficulties in tracking it.

NOAA qualified their warning by saying that the amount of oil in question is a small percentage of the total spilled, most of which is to the north of the current. The agency’s Scientific Support Coordinator, Charlie Henry, said that “[t]here is some light oil filling the loop current,” though he said the agency “expect[s] it to degrade before it comes close to threatening South Florida.”



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