Nightmare Scenario: Oil plume races up East Coast

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) released results from a series of computer models Thursday depicting the likely path of the Gulf oil spill plume over the next few months.

The alarming results show vividly how the impacts of the oil plume may spread quickly well beyond the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida and up the East Coast into the Atlantic.

Here is one of the more alarming parts of the report detailing why the oil plume may spread much more quickly in the coming months.

Oil has been pouring into the Gulf of Mexico since April 20 from a blown-out undersea well, the result of an explosion and fire on an oil rig. The spill is located in a relatively stagnant area of the Gulf, and the oil so far has remained relatively confined near the Louisiana and Alabama coastlines, although there have been reports of small amounts in the Loop Current.

The model simulations show that a liquid released in the surface ocean at the spill site is likely to slowly spread as it is mixed by the ocean currents until it is entrained in the Loop Current. At that point, speeds pick up to about 40 miles per day, and when the liquid enters the Atlantic’s Gulf Stream it can travel at speeds up to about 100 miles per day, or 3,000 miles per month.

I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to find what we are witnessing in the Gulf surreal and incomprehensible. It seems as if the incredible scope of this disaster is only now becoming apparent. It’s unthinkable to comprehend what WILL happen when (not if) a hurricane impacts the spill zone this season.

Check out this great site combining many NOAA projections of the spill zone.

Stay tuned, and hope for the best…somehow.


  • Josh

    Paul –

    “Surreal and incomprehensible” is exactly how I’d describe it, too. The amount of incompetence on display from day one of this disaster is mind-blowing.


  • angel

    Now that a dead dolphin & dead whale have washed up on a NY beach in one week, perhaps Americans will finally kick BP out of the country & begin trying to seal the well. It’s a big enough nightmare for Gulf Coast residents already, but I guess our wildlife doesn’t matter to all those Yankee environmental activists who are invested in GS and BP.