NOAA computer models predict coastal areas to be hit by oil spill

Mississippi, Alabama most likely affected, followed by Fla. Keys and Miami

The coastline stretching from the western Panhandle of Florida to the Mississippi River has the greatest probability of being affected by the Deepwater oil spill, according to a new federal report based on a computer program released today.

The report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the probability of the oil spill reaching the Mississippi-Alabama-Florida panhandle coastal area is 81 percent to 100 percent, according to a news release.

The NOAA modeling results released today are based on a computer program of historical weather and water current patterns. NOAA is monitoring the movement of the oil slick and updating its projections every 72 hours.


Related story:

NOAA interactive map tracks Gulf oil spill


The second area most likely to be affected by oil is the Florida Keys, Miami and Fort Lauderdale area, due to the movement of the Gulf’s loop current. Those areas have a 61 to 80 percent chance of being affected, the study said. However, the oil that reaches this area is likely to be dispersed and degraded, mostly in the form of scattered tar balls and not a large surface oil slick.

According to the NOAA modeling, the Texas coastline has a 1 percent to 40 percent chance of being affected, and most of Florida’s Gulf Coast has a 20 percent chance of being impacted.

Along the Atlantic Coast moving north from Fort Lauderdale, the probability of being affected from the spill ranges from 20 percent to less than 1 percent.

NOAA recently created a public Web site to allow the public to track developing information about the movement of the oil spill, recovery efforts, effects on shorelines and wildlife, and other concerns.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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