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AccuWeather's Grim Forecast for Florida's Coast: Crude-y With a Chance of Tar Balls

AccuWeather Gulf oil spill

AccuWeather has apparently moved into the oil slick prediction business, forecasting that the Loop Current (a warm ocean current that moves from the Caribbean Sea into the Gulf of Mexico before looping west and south, exiting through the Florida Straits) will carry the growing slick over the Gulf toward Florida. explains:

The speed of the current, which can reach several miles per hour, can carry part of the oil much more swiftly than waters over the slight, aimless drift of the north-central Gulf and light surface winds. In addition to the concern now for oil showing up in great quantities in the Keys, the Florida West Coast, Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, part of the slick could be drawn into the Gulf Stream through the Florida Straits then perhaps northward to part of the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States.

AccuWeather expects winds to remain light this weekend near the Gulf spill—and that means, fortunately, that seas will probably stay calm. But even light winds are enough to carry oil contaminants into Louisiana, and AccuWeather warns that its impossible to make precise predictions about the Loop Current.

Once the oil spill hits the Florida Keys, we can probably expect more tar balls to show up on local beaches. And once it makes its way to the Atlantic Seaboard? There's no telling how much damage the spill could do to sea life and the fishing industry.

 Read more about the Gulf Oil Spill

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Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by e-mail.