NOAA Models Long-Term Oil Threat to Gulf and East Coast Shoreline

Much of the west coast of Florida has a low probability (20 percent down to less than 1 percent) of oiling…

NOAA has used modeling of historical wind and ocean currents to project the likelihood that surface oil from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill will impact additional U.S. coastline. This modeling, part of NOAA’s comprehensive response to the unprecedented Gulf oil disaster, can help guide the ongoing preparedness, response and cleanup efforts…..

The NOAA model indicates:

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.

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