Indirect hit from hurricane could bring oil into Florida’s estuaries and lagoons

Today, Jeff Masters, a founder of Weather Underground and former hurricane hunter, shared his research regarding the effects of a hurricane on oil-impacted coastline.

“During the Ixtoc spill, prevailing currents circulating clockwise from the blowout carried a 60-mile by 70-mile patch of sheen containing a 300 foot by 500 foot patch of heavy crude 900 miles to the South Texas coast,” writes Masters. “By September 1, all of the south Texas coast had been impacted by oil.”

Hurricane Henri formed in the Gulf of Mexico’s Bay of Campeche on September 17 – 18 and went on to affect the South Texas coast. Masters writes that a glancing blow from Henri, combined with another storm system, “scoured the oiled beaches of over 90% of their oil (Gundlach et al., 1981).”

He continues, “The oil washed over the barrier islands into the estuaries behind them.”

The oil mats remaining on the beach “were ultimately covered by clean sand” which were “re-exposed and washed into the lagoon behind the barrier islands one year later when Category 3 Hurricane Allen battered the coast.”

Jeff Master’s article:

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