CLARIFICATION on the Current Threat to Florida Peninsula and Florida Keys from Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill

July 3, 2010

The risk of weathered oil and tar balls from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill coming to the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys remains low under current ocean and wind conditions. NOAA’s long-term projection model released yesterday focused on the possible long-term shoreline threats and not on current wind and oceans conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.

The model considers conditions that are typical for this time of year to evaluate long-term likelihood of threats to different shorelines. Current conditions, especially given the absence of a significant amount of Deepwater Horizon/BP oil from the loop current, indicate that immediate threats to the Florida Keys, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale areas remain low.

“This modeling provides a glimpse for planning purposes, but does not represent what we're actually seeing on the ground right now,” said Debbie Payton, NOAA oceanographer. “Right now, three things are contributing to a very low probability of oil threatening Florida Peninsula shorelines in the short term: no oil has been observed in the area near the loop current, the northern part of the loop current has 'pinched off' into a clockwise rotating eddy, and the present forecast for winds, currents and oil transport do not indicate any oil moving into the loop current area.”

The Florida Peninsula Command Post (FPCP) continues to aggressively monitor the current footprint of the spill in relation to the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys. The observed outer edge of the spill today is approximately 390 miles from the Dry Tortugas and over 100 miles away from the loop current's present location. The monitoring program includes surface sentry vessels, regular aerial patrols, satellite imagery and other scientific observations.

Should the situation change, the FPCP has developed effective response plans and is prepared to rapidly implement those plans should the need arise.

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