Currents likely to carry oil up east coast, into atlantic

Carried by water currents, BP’s giant oil slick could hit the U.S. east coast in a few weeks and spread out across thousands of miles of Atlantic ocean, according to government scientists monitoring the spill. The government’s oil spill trajectory shows the slick traveling down Florida’s Gulf coast and around the state’s southern tip, where it enters the rapid Gulf Stream. It then mucks the eastern shoreline all the way to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina before veering east into the open Atlantic.

Researchers based the model on the behavior of dye, rather than oil, in the water, but believe the projected pathway is a likely one. According to the model, part of the oil slick will enter the Gulf of Mexico’s loop current and could find itself deposited along the Southeastern U.S. coastline. The slick may be found floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in four months time.

Scientists stressed that the scenario was only one of many possibilities, but it served as a potent reminder that BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill is not just a problem for the Gulf Coast states.

The study was completed by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and was sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The National Center for Atmospheric Research is managed by The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).

“I’ve had a lot of people ask me, ‘Will the oil reach Florida?'” NCAR scientist Synte Peacock, who worked on the study, said in a repot. “Actually, our best knowledge says the scope of this environmental disaster is likely to reach far beyond Florida, with impacts that have yet to be understood.”

As BP works to contain the spill by lowering a cap onto the upper section of the blowout preventer known as the lower marine riser package (LMRP), President Obama sent BP its first bill for emergency services. The total came to $69 million.