This video, showing how how oil could spread as far as North Carolina, has been circulating around the net rapidly. It’s from the National Center for Atmospheric Research:
NCAR helpfully points out it’s only a simulation, not a forecast, and shows how dye would travel, rather than oil. Dye, unlike oil, has the same density as water and would not coagulate or form slicks.
It’s understandable however that viewers are slightly alarmed, when that disclaimer appeared on the media release *below* this paragraph:
“I’ve had a lot of people ask me, ‘Will the oil reach Florida?’” says NCAR scientist Synte Peacock, who worked on the study. “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.”
Not to mention the headline: Ocean currents likely to carry oil along Atlantic coast
Meanwhile Florida is getting nervous as sightings of tar balls, “tar mats” and other oily substances are reported close to shore. Substances found near the Florida Keys were probably not from the Deepwater Horizon spill, the Coast Guard said, but oil patches are being monitored near other parts of the state.
At midday Thursday, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said:
• Southwest winds are expected to continue through Sunday with speeds of 10-15 knots. Trajectories show a northeastward movement of oil over the next 3 days, threatening the shorelines of Alabama and possibly the western Florida Panhandle.
• Areas of tarballs, tar patties, and sheen have been confirmed approximately 10 miles from the Escambia County shoreline and 6 miles from Navarre Beach.
• According to the NOAA oil plume model, the primary oil plume is 30 miles from Pensacola, more than 150 miles from Gulf County, and 330 miles from St. Petersburg, with non contiguous sheens and scattered tarballs closer.
BP has issued Florida two $25m grants; one primarily for booming and the other for advertising to ward off a slump in tourism. But the state, fearing a much greater impact, wants more from both the company and the federal government.