A University of Florida professor and oceanographic expert says he believes the east coast of Florida might see the worst of the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
At the same time, state health officials say the chemical-like smell reported to be wafting occasionally across parts of the state, including Alachua and Marion counties, has not been definitively linked to the oil spill but that they continue to monitor the reports.
Y. Peter Sheng, coastal and oceanographic engineer at UF, said the six-day ocean current models released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveal that the western coast of Florida, from the Big Bend to Cedar Key, could be spared.
The oil slick that’s growing south of the Louisiana coast could get caught in what’s called the “Loop Current,” which flows through the Florida Straits and becomes the Gulf Stream.
The Gulf Stream runs up the eastern coast of Florida. Sheng said he believes it is entirely possible, even probable, that this will happen, thus impacting the beaches from Miami to Jacksonville. The Loop Current is about 35 miles south of the slick, which currently is 125 miles wide and 40 miles long.