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No oil likely before Thanksgiving in Key West

BP's Deepwater Horizon will have not effect on Key West Fishing

KEYS TOURISM ADVISORY #39      July 2, 2010 • 3:45 p.m. News and Information From the Monroe County Tourist Development Council NOAA Releases Long-Term Oil Threat Models to Gulf and East Coast; Short-Term Threat to Keys Remains Low The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Friday released a study, using historical wind and ocean currents to project long-term likelihoods (during a 120-day-period that began April 22) that surface oil products from the BP/Transocean leak might reach areas along U.S. Gulf and East coasts. For interests in South Florida and the Keys, the NOAA model indicates that the Florida Keys, Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas have a 61 percent to 80 percent possibility of being affected with scattered tar balls from the spill. “Any oil reaching this area (South Florida and the Keys) would have spent considerable time degrading and dispersing and would be in the form of scattered tar balls and not a large surface slick of oil,” the NOAA study said, echoing Coast Guard, National Marine Sanctuary and Monroe County officials. Coastlines with the highest probability for oil impacts (81 percent to 100 percent) extend from the Mississippi River Delta to the western panhandle of Florida where there have been and will likely continue to be oil impacts, NOAA said. Much of the west coast of Florida and central Florida up the eastern seaboard have a low probability of shoreline impacts. For the study, a “threat” was defined as when BP/Transocean spill oil, sheen, tar balls or other effects might come within 20 miles of a shoreline. However, it does not indicate they would come ashore. Whether or not oil travels ashore depends upon wind and ocean currents at the time, NOAA said. Currently, for south Florida and the Keys, there is a very low risk of impact in the near future, due to the separation of the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico, according to NOAA officials, including Billy Causey, superintendent of the southeast region for NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries, which includes the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. “This is because the Loop Current has been cut off from the northern Gulf of Mexico and our scientists are saying there is no clear path for oil to travel from the spill site, which is about 500 miles to the northwest of Key West,” Causey explained in a video that is being shown on the home page of Florida Keys Official Website and Florida Keys Oil Spill News that provides spill-related information for visitors. The current risk is so low that NOAA suspended production of its daily offshore trajectory tracks. Tracks will resume if necessary and officials don’t know how long the Loop Current will remain separated. The study analyzed some 500 scenarios that were based on several simplifying assumptions. In particular, it did not start with the current footprint of the spill, but rather the spill beginning April 22, and the potential for threats until 120 days after. Also, the analysis did not adjust for effects of dispersants on the volume, weathering and movement of oil on the water’s surface. The study also did not take into account that the Loop Current has been detached for the past several months, according to NOAA spokesperson Jennifer Austin. The full news release on the study is at: NOAA Gulf Spill Restoration, TDC website with spill-related information for Keys visitors: Florida Keys New Flash – Deepwater Horizon

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