Oil Spill Spreads Across the GulfJune 15th, 2010 at 9:00 pm by Jason Smith under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors
New spill estimates suggest that the oil is flowing at a rate of 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day. This is 1.5-2.5 million gallons a day! The oil has been flowing since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20th. For two months, the oil has poured into the Gulf and little has been done to slow the leak.
Satellite images show that the area of sheen has been steadily spreading over the north central Gulf of Mexico. We have already seen light impacts of oil from Petit Bois Island, AL to Navarre, FL. Fox Ten News crews have documented small areas of tar balls and sheen as far up Mobile Bay as Gaillard Island and the eastern shore near Weeks Bay. Impacts are more significant in lower Perdido Bay.
Shifting winds and currents help dictate where the oil spreads in the short term. We saw significant impacts in south Baldwin County over the weekend. Temporarily, the situation is better with only light tar balls reported in this area. This week, winds have been a little lighter and more westerly. The oil is now spreading off the Florida Panhandle, with most of the sheen a few miles off the beaches. It’s only a matter of time before winds increase out of the south and we see this stuff back on the beaches. We will see good days and bad days with the oil. It’s going to be streaky as long as we are on the leading edge of the plume. If the leak continues, I fear that the problem will gradually get more serious with each passing week.
Efforts to set up boom has proven ineffective at times. The boom is not strong enough to withstand stronger winds and choppy conditions. Tides are strong enough to make the situation even more difficult to contain. We see tidal ranges as much as two and a half feet during some stages of the tidal cycle. This produces a powerful current that rips even well anchored boom apart.
I have spent a lot of time fishing on the waters from Mobile Bay to Choctawhatchee Bay and beyond. The amount of water in the Gulf that is affected by the spill is well beyond our ability to police. Riding around Mobile Bay on Monday morning, the reality of the situation hit home for me. Even the relatively small geographical area of Mobile Bay is too large to defend from the oil. A fleet of 2,000 boats armed with skimmers and boom couldn’t fight of the oil if the slick decided to track into our waters like it did in Barataria Bay near Grand Isle earlier in the month.
There is just too much of this stuff out there. It’s overwhelming, disheartening, and frightening. It’s June 15th, and the wind is light out of the southwest tonight. I can smell the crude in the air tonight outside the Fox Ten News studios.