Hurricane Season vs. Oil Spill

The Gulf of Mexico just can’t catch a break these days. Lately, whenever you think of The Gulf, you think of a massive oil spill.  But, we may soon be talking about the oil spill, and…hurricanes! June 1st (tomorrow) is the official start to The Atlantic Hurricane Season. Typically, we don’t have to look very far off shore for tropical development in June.

Of course, this is also in the same area where we are dealing with one of the biggest environmental catastrophes of all time. So, what would happen if a tropical storm or hurricane moved into The Gulf of Mexico? Believe it or not, a hurricane may actually be a really good thing..kinda. Now, I know what you’re thinking..how could a hurricane actually be a good thing? Let’s assume that a hurricane forms in The Gulf and moves east of the oil slick as the graphic below shows.

The counter-clockwise winds around the storm would actually push the winds away from the shore, out to sea and thus, push the oil spill away from the coast and fragile ecosystem. The wind and waves would also help break up the layer of oil at the surface and instead, leaving smaller “oil droplets”. (Imagine shaking up a bottle of Italian salad dressing). Also, the heavy rain would help “wash” the wetland of the oil and perhaps helps move it back out to sea. That right there would be a “good” case.

Now, here is the worst care scenerio.

If a storm were to move west of the oil spill, then you could have the winds pushing the spill on shore and deeper into the wetlands along the coast. And, if the storm is strong enough, then the oil could eventually reach freshwater regions along the coast damaging the ecosystem there as wll.

There are, ofcourse, a lot of possibilities on what a storm would do if it formed in The Gulf of Mexico. And while the oil spill is an important news story, I think the damage done by a strong hurricane would create even bigger damage. So, pick your poison.. do you want a hurricane pushing the oil off shore (good), but creating tons of damage on shore (bad)? Or, a hurricane moving across the coast pushing the oil inland at a rapid pace (bad..and..even more bad) ? Sounds like a no-win situation to me…

-Damon

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