Monday AM May 17th, 2010

A Texas A&M oceanographer says the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could hit Texas beaches if currents change. Dr. Piers Chapman says the slick mainly threatens the upper Gulf Coast east of the Mississippi Delta, but winds and currents in the Gulf can change quickly.

 

"There's a sort of basic rule of thumb in oil spill slick trajectory modeling that says the oil travels roughly at three percent of the wind speed.  Currents obviously depend on winds and that, but if you can use a model to forecast what the winds and the currents are going to do, this gives you a chance to concentrate your resources where they're likely to do the most good."

If the oil continues to leak for several more weeks and the prevailing winds and currents continue, Chapman says we could easily see some oil washing up on Texas beaches.

 

"National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is doing trajectory forecasts. You can get onto these very easily from their Web site. The area that is potentially at risk seems to keep going slightly further and further west with each day because the winds at the moment are typically from the southeast, and so they're pushing the slick up towards the northwest and the west. That's where the slick seems to be at the moment."

Chapman says it's easier to clean up oil on a sandy beach than the marshes of Louisiana. But either way, wildlife will almost certainly be affected.

 

This text will be replaced
ROBERT, La. — Oil and gas stream from the riser of the Deepwater Horizon well May 11, 2010. This video is from the larger of two existing leaks on the riser. This leak is located approximately 460 feet from the top of the blowout preventer and rests on the sea floor at a depth of about 5,000 feet.

 

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...