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OIL SPILL UPDATE: Latest oil trajectory data from Florida Keys

Oil trajectory maps, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show non-contiguous, light sheens of oil and scattered tar balls from the Gulf oil spill in the Loop Current remaining well to the northwest of the Florida Keys through Friday and likely beyond.

According to NOAA, the forecast position of the southern point of the non-contiguous sheens and tarballs for Friday, May 27, is about 225 miles to the west,northwest of Key West.

The Florida Keys and Key West have an information-filled website located at FLORIDA KEYS AND KEY WEST

Meanwhile, NOAA analysis show most of the oil, especially heavy concentrations, has not entered the Loop Current.

“If you look at satellite images, it is obvious that the bulk of the oil is far away from the Loop Current,” said NOAA administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco.

If any of the oil makes it to the vicinity of the Florida Straits, it would be highly weathered and both the natural process of evaporation and the application of dispersants would reduce the oil volume significantly, Lubchenco said.

Oil entrained in the Loop Current would require persistent onshore winds or an eddy on the edge of the Loop Current for it to reach the Florida shoreline. If this were to occur, the weathered and diluted oil would likely appear in isolated locations in the form of tar balls, NOAA wrote in a statement.

The Gulf Loop Current is a clockwise current that carries water from the Yucatan Channel north into the Gulf of Mexico, then back down south off Florida’s west coast, past the Dry Tortugas and into the Gulf Stream.

Currently, there are no advisories recommending against travel to the Florida Keys or any other precautions advising visitors and residents not to engage in fishing, diving, swimming or other water sports, according to the Monroe County Health Department. Seafood from Florida Keys waters is safe to eat, officials said.

Federal, state and local environmental and emergency management agencies have met several times to review and modify mitigation strategies if a response to an oil threat is required for the Keys.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist added Monroe County, in the Florida Keys, to a list of two dozen Florida counties already under a state of emergency declaration. Even though no Florida county has seen oil yet, the declaration was issued so counties can pre-qualify for federal reimbursement funding and individual business loans, if needed.

Visitors continue to be welcomed to all Florida areas that are under a state of emergency.

The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed tests on tar balls found May 17 on Key West’s Fort Zachary Taylor State Park beach and other areas of the Lower Keys and the Dry Tortugas were not from the Transocean/BP oil spill.

Additional Information: Florida Keys officials Question and Answers

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