Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Oil spill in gulf isn't likely to wash ashore in Florida, experts say

Weather experts say the gulf oil spill, if it does get blown onto the shore, is more likely to wind up in Louisiana or Mississippi than to reach any beaches in Florida. The nearest Florida dunes are at Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach, which lie about 150 miles northwest of where the rig sank.

Had the rig, Deepwater Horizon, been drilling in Florida's state waters, the results would probably have been more dire, oceanographers say.

If the rig had been as close as 3 miles away — the limit proposed by state legislative leaders this year — "the most likely scenario would be for the sea breezes to bring all the problems to the coast; then, depending on which way the wind is blowing, it would be carried to the north or to the south," retired Florida State University oceanographer Wilton "Tony" Sturges wrote in an e-mail responding to questions from the St. Petersburg Times.

Either way, he said, "the people along St. Pete Beach would not be happy."

Since the waves along the gulf coast tend to be small ones, he added, they would do little to break up the oil naturally before it reached the sand. Once it got on the beaches, he said, getting it cleaned up would be nearly impossible. He noted that on the Alaska beaches that were coated with oil by the Exxon Valdez when it wrecked 20 years ago, scientists are still finding pockets of oil.

"The real story here is that as careful as the drillers may be (and I believe that they are very good at what they do), accidents can happen, even with low probability of occurrence," University of South Florida oceanographer Robert Weisberg said in an e-mail replying to the Times.

Oil spill in gulf isn't likely to wash ashore in Florida, experts say 04/23/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 23, 2010 11:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Protest sparks Texas lawmaker threats of gun violence


    AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of protesters opposing Texas' tough new anti-"sanctuary cities" law launched a raucous demonstration from the public gallery in the Texas House on Monday, briefly halting work and prompting lawmakers on the floor below to scuffle — and even threaten gun violence — as tense …

  2. Photo gallery: 20 mugshots of pro athletes arrested in Florida - 1994 to 2017


    In light of today's arrest of Tiger Woods in Jupiter, Florida on DUI charges, here are 20 booking mugs of professional athletes who have been arrested in Florida, from 1994 (Jennifer …

    Desmond Bryant - 2005 - Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was arrested in Miami on charges of criminal mischief after allegedly "going to a neighbor's house inebriated and causing a commotion." 

  3. For starters: Rays at Rangers, with Erasmo on the mound again


    Coming off Sunday's 6 1/2-hour, 15-inning marathon win over the Twins, the Rays will have the pitcher who finished that game, Erasmo Ramirez, start tonight's game in Texas, first pitch 8:05 Tampa Bay time.

    Ramirez threw only 12 pitches on Sunday so the Rays decided to let him make his planned start tonight, …

  4. Curlew Hills Memory Gardens honors Memorial Day (w/video)


       Curlew Hills Memory Gardens honored those that served during their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor. The event featured guest speakers, live choral performances by the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church choir and live music by Bones South, an area trombone ensemble with …

    Eight-year-old Piper St. Jean, of Tampa, uses a brush to clean the grave of her grandfather, Henry St. Jean, who served with the United States Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam wars. at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens on Monday moments after the conclusion of their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor.
  5. Authorities release name of Tampa woman killed in Temple Terrace apartment fire


    TEMPLE TERRACE — Authorities have released the name of a woman who died in a fire that destroyed a dozen units in an apartment complex here Sunday.

    Firefighters battle an early-morning fire Sunday that claimed the life of 28-year-old Tenecia Renee Brannon and left about 30 others homeless. [Temple Terrace Fire Department]