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Oil Spill Update -More Good News for Southwest FL Shoreline . . . Click for More Info

July 16, 2010

July 3, 2010  - Sarasota Herald Tribune by Kate Spinner

SARASOTA COUNTY - Compared with the rest of the state, Southwest Florida's shoreline is least likely to see tar balls and oil globs from the Deepwater Horizon spill. Chances that oil will reach here are less than 1 percent, while Miami and the Florida Keys have an 80 percent chance, according to a new federal computer model.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's model shows in hard numbers what scientists -- and tourism officials -- have been saying for months.

The loop current, which flows clockwise through the Gulf, is more likely to shuttle oil away from this region, dragging it instead toward Miami, the Florida Keys and the east coast.

"This codifies our intuition about what, in general, would happen," said Doug Helton, indicent operations coordinator for NOAA.

For long-term plans, such as a winter wedding on the beach, Helton said: "You would choose Tampa. You wouldn't choose the Florida Keys."

For the short-term, though, the loop current is so far from the oil that it poses no immediate threat to the Miami area. The model, however, does not take into account a hurricane's potential to send oil to unexpected places, including Southwest Florida's white beaches.

The computer model assumes oil will continue to seep from the site of the April 20 explosion on the drilling rig.

West Florida has in its favor the loop current and a contintental shelf stretching out more than 150 miles from the coast.

From just north of Tampa to south of Marco Island, the chance for oil near the coast by Aug. 18 is less than 1 percent. Other parts of the west coast have a 20 percent chance.

Oil has as high as an 80 percent chance of reaching within 20 miles of beaches in the Florida Keys and Miami, in the form of light sheen or tar balls. Florida's southeastern coast has a 61 percent to 80 percent chance. Rachel Wilhelm, a spokeswoman for NOAA, said the amount of oil seen in South Florida could range widely. However, at least at first, it will likely be heavily weathered remnants.

"We're talking about light sheens and streamers and tar balls perhaps the size of a dime to maybe the size of your fist," Wilhelm said. "Certainly not what you're seeing in the Gulf right now -- we're talking about very weathered, highly dispersed oil."

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

For a Nice Graph on the impact areas copy and past this link: http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100703/GRAPHICS02/100709916/2416/NEWS&template=graphics

 

 

 
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