NOAA: Probability Oil Will Travel Up East Coast Is Low

(Dow Jones Newswires), July 2, 2010

The probability of oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico traveling up the Eastern seaboard is small, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday as it disclosed the results of 500 different computer models.

Meanwhile, rough seas and winds have been disrupting spill responders' efforts to contain the oil gushing from BP's well in the Gulf of Mexico two days after Hurricane Alex made landfall hundreds of miles away from the spill site.

NOAA said in its report that the probability of shoreline impacts from eastern central Florida up to the East Coast is range from about 20% in the south to less than 1% further north. Impact means causing a dull sheen within 20 miles of the coast.

Potential impacts become increasingly unlikely north of North Carolina as the Gulf Stream moves away from the U.S. coast at Cape Hatteras. Any oil reaching the shore in those areas, likely would be in the form of tar balls or highly weathered oil.

The finders are based on a 90-day oil flow rate of 33,000 barrels per day and takes into account the natural process of oil "weathering," or breaking down.

The west coast of Florida also has low chance of getting hit by oil, said NOAA, though the risk is higher for the Florida Keys, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Oil reaching the area - likely in the form of scattered tar balls rather than a slick - also would take longer to break down and disperse.

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