NOAA releases new long-term projections for oil spill

Atlantic Coast senators, led by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), has asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to begin producing science-based, long-term projections of the direction of the oil from the BP spill, including probabilities that the oil will affect areas along the Atlantic Coast.

Those projections, released today by NOAA, show Mississippi in the 100 percent probability of shoreline threat over the next two months. It also shows the loop current carrying the oil to the Atlantic Coast, with shorelines on the Atlantic side ranging from 20 percent to 60 percent probability of oil threatening the shoreline.

The graphics below depict the composite results of 500 individual scenarios or runs of the model.

The model assumes that oil is released at an average rate of 33,000 barrels per day for 90 days. The model predicts the location of oil after 120 days from the start.

However, a projected threat to the shoreline does not necessarily mean that oil will come ashore.

In a letter to the heads of the relevant federal departments, Menendez and 21 of his East Coast colleagues asked for immediate communication with all Atlantic Coast state emergency preparedness agencies to ensure that they can be fully prepared and equipped for the worst case scenario, and new science-based, long-term projection models that can help determine the statistical probabilities of oil affecting various parts of the Atlantic Coast.

Menendez was joined by Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jim Webb (D-VA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Scott Brown (R-MA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John Kerry (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Jack Reed (D-RI), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD).