|“We are dying a slow death here,’’ said Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish in Lousiana. (Susan Poag/ The Times-Picayune)|
Oil spill complicates forecasts on eve of the hurricane season
VENICE, La. — As hurricane season approaches, the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is taking weather forecasters into nearly uncharted waters.
The gulf is a superhighway for hurricanes that form or explode over pools of hot water, then usually move north or west toward the coast. It is now the site of the worst oil spill in US history and along the general path of some of the worst storms on record, including Hurricane Camille, which battered the Mississippi coast in 1969, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The season officially starts tomorrow, and although scientists seem to agree that the sprawling slick isn’t likely to affect the formation of a storm, the real worry is that a hurricane might turn the millions of gallons of floating crude into a crashing black surf.
“They are going to destroy south Louisiana. We are dying a slow death here,’’ said Billy Nungesser, president of coastal Plaquemines Parish. “We don’t have time to wait while they try solutions.’’
Those worries have only intensified as
The company’s “top kill’’ effort to plug the well with mud and seal it with cement was the latest in a string of failures to ease the spill. Another solution, a cap similar to an earlier one that failed, won’t be tried for at least several days.
Some fear a horrific combination of damaging winds and large waves pushing oil deeper into estuaries and wetlands and coating miles of debris-littered coastline in a sticky mess.
The worst effects of an oil-soaked storm surge might not be felt for years: If oil is pushed deep into coastal marshes that act as a natural speed bump for storm surges, areas including New Orleans could be more vulnerable to bad storms.