Oceanographer: Gulf Oil Spill May Hit Tampa Bay by Fall

USF oceanographer
USF oceanographer Robert Weisberg with his model of the Gulf's Loop Current
SEMINOLE (2010-07-14) -

As BP moves to cut off the flow of the Deepwater Horizon gusher, a USF oceanographer says that if it is left unchecked, the oil could be off Florida's west coast by the fall.

So far, prevailing winds have kept the oil slick from venturing east past Panama City. That's because the summertime winds have been pushing the slick to the north and west of the Tampa Bay area. But that could change if the Deepwater Horizon well continues to gush into the fall. That's the warning from Robert Weisberg, a USF oceanographer who specializes in ocean currents. He says the circulation of the Gulf changes in the fall from north - where the oil is located - to the south.

"We really want that oil cleaned up - or at least stop gushing before fall comes - or we'll see oil off the west coast of Florida," he says. "Will it hit the beaches? I don't know. But we will see if off the west coast of Florida."

Weisberg spoke Wednesday night at a forum on the impact of the spill on Tampa Bay, held at St. Petersburg College's Seminole campus.

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