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Gulf oil spill: Meteorologist says oil has entered the Loop Current

May 19, 2010 |  9:46 am

La-na-oil-spill20 AccuWeather.com is reporting that part of the massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico has been captured by the Loop Current, a fast river of water that circulates from the Caribbean Sea into the Gulf of Mexico and under the tip of Florida.

The weather service said satellite imagery showed "a significant part of the oil slick is tearing away and being drawn well to the south in the east-central Gulf of Mexico this week."

Senior expert meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said the speed of the current, which can reach several miles per hour, can carry part of the oil much more swiftly than the relatively sluggish currents elsewhere in the gulf.

Oil in the loop would present a hazard to the Florida Keys, as well as areas of the west coast of Florida. Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico could also be at risk of exposure to the oil, which also could be drawn into the Gulf Stream through the Florida Straits, and perhaps northward to part of the Atlantic Seaboard.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco told a congressional panel Tuesday that such a scenario would take a long time, and that oil would be significantly degraded.

--Geoff Mohan

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