Even as some government and BP officials downplay the extent of the growing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, a terrible threshold has been crossed: the slick has been captured by the Loop Current, which draws water from the Gulf through the Florida Keys and into the Gulf Stream along the Atlantic coast. SkyTruth president John Amos, one of the first independent experts to warn the official estimates of the leak were radically too small, calls Monday’s satellite imagery “disturbing“:.Update: Tar balls have washed up on Key West beaches. If they are from the leading edge of the oil gusher, that would mean that some oil already has been entrained in the Loop Current for several days.
Today’s MODIS / Terra satellite image is the most cloud-free we’ve seen in many days, and what it reveals is disturbing: part of the still-massive Gulf oil slick has apparently been entrained in the strong Loop Current, and is rapidly being transported to the southeast toward Florida. The total area covered by slick and sheen, at 10,170 square miles (26,341 km2), is nearly double what it appeared to be on the May 14 radar satellite image, and is bigger than the state of Maryland.