Weisberg updates Loop Current models for oil leak reaching Florida Keys
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05/03/10 Seán Kinane
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Beach dunes in Pinellas County's Sand Key Park are now under a state of emergency.


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

As WMNF reported a week ago, a USF College of Marine Science oceanographer is concerned that oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil leak could get into the Gulf Loop Current and impact the Florida Keys and the southeast coast of the state. Professor Bob Weisberg is modeling ocean current patterns and says the loop current is moving northward and could soon be directly over the site of the BP oil disaster.

He doesn’t go as far as Nick Shay, a physical oceanographer at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Today Shay said oil could be entrained within the Loop Current within a day. USF’s Weisberg says his models can’t predict when oil will get trapped in that current, but in the likely event it does, it should reach the Florida Keys a week later and North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras two weeks after that.

Weisberg and his colleagues are using three different models to predict what will happen to the giant oil leak. Despite Governor Crist’s extension of a state of emergency to the Gulf coast all the way south to Sarasota County, Weisberg said the Panhandle and Florida Keys face a higher risk of oil damage than the Tampa Bay area.

In a telephone conference today, U.S. Representative Kathy Castor called on President Barack Obama to reinstate the buffer law forbidding drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

USF College of Marine Science oil leak models

Previous WMNF coverage of loop current

Information from AP was used in this report

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