NOAA's Updated Oil Spill Map: Miami and South Florida Could Get Hit

Florida beach
Florida beach

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has updated its map of where BP's (BP) Gulf oil spill may be heading. And it appears the crude has a high chance of reaching South Florida, including the Florida Keys and Miami, according to computer model projections (see map below).

A NOAA forecast released Friday shows a 61% to 80% chance of sheen, tar balls or other oil remnants coming within 20 miles of Florida's eastern coast, from the Keys north to the Fort Lauderdale area, by Aug. 18, the Associated Press reported.

Other areas of Florida, including the Florida Panhandle, which has already seen beaches littered with tar balls, show low probability of "oiling," the agency said. Florida's West Coast has a 20% chance or less of seeing oil from the leak that began with an explosion on a BP-leased drilling rig on April 20. Parts of southwest Florida have less than a 1% chance, NOAA said.

A beach advisory took effect Friday in Escambia County, in northwest Florida, which includes the white sands of Pensacola Beach, Bloomberg News reported.

Local health officials have posted notices advising people to avoid swimming or making contact with oil if they see or feel it on the beach or in the water. The notice will stay in place until the region's beaches are no longer affected by the BP spill, according to a county news release.