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Could a hurricane spread the oil spill?
Hurricane season is almost here, says Chris Mooney in Slate, and an early storm in the Gulf could make the BP oil disaster even worse
Keeping the oil slick out of Louisiana's wetlands is hard enough in good weather. What about during a hurricane?
Keeping the oil slick out of Louisiana's wetlands is hard enough in good weather. What about during a hurricane?
Julie Dermansky/Corbis
T

he containment and cleanup of the BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico is about to get even more difficult, says Chris Mooney in Slate. The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1, and scientists are predicting 15 named storms and eight full-blown hurricanes. What will happen if a storm with the force of, say, Hurricane Katrina plows through the massive oil slick before slamming into the Gulf Coast? The damage will depend on the strength, size, and path of the storm, but any combination of a hurricane and a giant oil slick is unlikely to be pretty. Here, an excerpt:

"At least one forecast team puts the chance of a strong hurricane hammering some part of the Gulf Coast this year at 44 percent, and any such storm would threaten to disrupt ongoing containment or environmental protection measures. In an absolute worst-case scenario, powerful hurricane winds might drive the oil slick towards land and push some of it ashore with the ensuing storm surge....

It's even possible that an oil slick could make a powerful hurricane a little stronger. Oil is darker than water, and so it absorbs more sunlight while also blocking evaporation from the sea surface. That means the spill could be trapping heat in one part of the ocean. If a storm passed over and churned up the surface of the water, that potential hurricane energy might then be released."

Read the full article at Slate.

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