First Bit of Oil Spill Enters the Loop Current

The dreaded Loop Current is the pathway that could transport oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico through the Florida Keys and up the East Coast. Scientists have been warning of the possibility of runoff entering the Loop Current since the initial leak, and now MSNBC reports that the first bits of oil have entered the current. It could take less than a week for oil from the spill to reach the Keys once it enters the Loop Current. 

Luckily, the small amount of oil presently detected in the Loop Current doesn't present much of a threat, for now anyway. 

The update also cautioned that "in the time it would take for oil to travel to the vicinity of the Florida Straits, any oil would be highly weathered and both the natural process of evaporation and the application of chemical dispersants would reduce the oil volume significantly."

There's also the possibility that once in the Loop Current, the oil could get caught up in a clockwise eddy in the Gulf which would prevent it from making its way to the Florida straits. 

"Oil entrained in the Loop Current would require persistent onshore winds or an eddy on the edge of the Loop Current for it to reach the Florida shoreline," an NOAA report said. "If this were to occur, the weathered and diluted oil would likely appear in isolated locations in the form of tar balls."

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