This morning, Gov. Charlie Crist announced the entire state of Florida should brace for the impact of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Ecologists and residents are already preparing for the potential damage the oil could bring to the Florida Keys, and scientists continue to warn that even east coast shores such as Miami's should be prepared.
The worst-cast scenario involves the oil being caught up in the Loop Current, which would then feed it to the Florida Strait into the Gulf Stream and ultimately up the Atlantic Coast. In fact, if the oil reaches the Loop Current, it could hit Miami in less than a week.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"It could make it from Louisiana all the way to Miami in a week, maybe less." said Eric Chassignet, director of the Center for Ocean Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University. "It is pretty fast."
Right now, some computer models show the spill 30 to 50 miles north of the loop current. If the onshore winds turn around and push the oil further south: "That would be a nightmare," said Yonggang Liu, research associate at the University of South Florida who models the current. "Hopefully we are lucky, but who knows. The winds are changing and difficult to predict."
Similar past events have spread "red tide," the fish-killing algal bloom, from the Gulf of Mexico to the East Coast.
Meanwhile, emergency crews are trying to shut off the spill at the source, an underwater well, but admit it could take weeks to control.