Gulf oil spill: June hurricanes are a long-term worry
Forecaster Joe Bastardi at AccuWeather is starting to raise concerns about any early June hurricanes, as the Caribbean cyclonic season starts. Those storms tend to form in the western Caribbean and drift northward toward the Gulf of Mexico.
Should the oil spill linger in the waters of the gulf during early hurricane seasons, a strong storm could greatly hamper boom operations and drive the oil slick northward toward the shorelines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. There even is a possibility of oil droplets becoming airborne and being driven inland.
"While the factor of winds, waves and storms makes for a tremendous forecast challenge as to where the oil slick will end up, ocean currents take the problem to a whole new level."
He's referring to the Gulf loop current, which comes up from the Yucatan Peninsula, dips into the Gulf, then sweeps across the southern tip of Florida. Sometimes the loop can spin off small eddy currents in the northern part of the Gulf, near the plume of oil, which now stretches as far east as Pensacola, Fla.
The big worry remains whether the plume or parts of it will get caught up in the loop current and spread across the Everglades and Florida Keys, both of which are ecologically sensitive areas.
-- Geoff Mohan
Photo: Hurricane Ivan in 2004 was a stronger, late-season storm formed off Cape Verde. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration