Loop Current Could Bring Oil to East Coast

Guest Blog | May 3, 2010 | Energy Policy, Offshore Drilling
picture-7The next stop on BP’s runaway disaster train: the “loop current.”  This warm water current sets up in the Gulf of Mexico and flows out through the Florida Straights, past the Keys and joins the Gulf Stream on the East Coast.  Fishermen track the current because it is teeming with life and is a “harbinger of good catches”. Dr. Nick Shay, a oceanographer at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, stated today that the oil spill could hit the Loop Current within 24 hours.  Once the oil is entrained in the current, says Dr. Shay,  it could take the oil a week or less to impact Florida’s beaches, coral reefs, fisheries and ecosystems.

picture-9One-way Ticket to the Outer Banks

It would take more than a week for the oil in the loop current to head up the East Coast of Florida, however, Dr. Shay said that he cannot imagine a scenario where the oil does not at least reach the Florida Keys and then head into the Gulf Stream.  Essentially this ongoing tragedy, which originated 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, has the potential to now impact wildlife and economies all the way to Cape Hatteras, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

All Hands on Deck

Non-profit groups all throughout the Gulf region are mobilizing volunteers for what is thought to be the worst environmental catastrophe of our lifetimes. Groups like the Gulf Restoration Network, Mobile Baykeepers and many others are working with officials to prepare for oil’s landfall.  The devastation and clean up could take months if not decades.

Worse than Hurricane Katrina

Businesses are preparing for the worst.  Many communities in the Gulf rely on their fisheries and tourism industry for survivial.  In one coastal Alabama town, the annual blessing of the fishing fleets occurred on the same day that officials closed down the waters for fishing without any indication of when they might be reopened.

“At least Katrina left us clean water.  We had something to eat.  This is worse than Katrina” – Captain Skrmetta , Tour Boat owner in Louisiana

The Gulf Region is on standby; folks on the ground feel like all they can do is wait.

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