Sunday, May 02, 2010

River of Oil to Rush Around All of Florida

A Pensacola Beach resident writes to ask if there could be any truth to this prediction from University of Florida Professor Y. Peter Sheng, as reported a few days ago in the Ocala Star-Banner:
The oil slick that's growing south of the Louisiana coast could get caught in what's called the “Loop Current,” which flows through the Florida Straits and becomes the Gulf Stream.

The Gulf Stream runs up the eastern coast of Florida. Sheng said he believes it is entirely possible, even probable, that this will happen, thus impacting the beaches from Miami to Jacksonville. The Loop Current is about 35 miles south of the slick, which currently is 125 miles wide and 40 miles long.

“I would say the east coast of Florida has the higher probability (of being impacted by the oil spill),” said Sheng, adding his opinion is based on NOAA's ocean current forecast and wind direction.
Our correspondent's question and the professor's prediction triggered a faint memory. Sadly, the answer appears to be 'yes' it could happen. Funny enough, it's a decade-old news item involving Great Britain that offers substantiation.

Way back in 2005 we reported on this blog that a photo had been recovered from the detritus of hurricane evacuations. It was a small treasure that somehow had survived two hurricanes. The whole story is worth reading. ["Message in a Bottle"].

The short of it is, sometime in the late 1990's two boys at Pensacola Beach Elementary School stuffed a message in a bottle one day, with their teacher's name on it, and dropped it into the Gulf of Mexico just beyond the breaking waves. The bottle was found by two young girls and a boy on Camber Beach in Southwestern England a year or two later.

The girls' mother -- ironically, an environmental worker of some sort -- sent an email to the beach residents' association of the time and sent along a picture of the three kids holding the bottle. Today, of course, the two boys would be men. The British adolescents would be adults. But the message in the bottle from Pensacola Beach remains somewhere in England.

If a message in a bottle can navigate south through the Gulf of Mexico, around the Florida Keys, and across the Atlantic, it's no stretch to imagine BP's river of oil eventually will follow the same path.

No comments: