Forecasting the Oil Spill

The New York Times eviscerated Obama over the weekend, editorializing, “The president cannot plug the leak or magically clean up the fouled Gulf of Mexico. But he and his administration need to do a lot more to show they are on top of this mess, and not perpetually behind the curve.” The president may not be able to preform magic, but he can visit the Gulf Coast, and thanks to the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida, he can forecast which coastal areas are going to be hit by the slick.

A week ago, we were worried about oil getting sucked into the Gulf Stream, sweeping the Keys, and polluting the entire Atlantic Basin.  This week, with a shift of currents and temperature, the oil has been sloshing around the north-central Gulf and washing up on Pensacola.

These subtle shifts in currents can result in hundred-million-dollar swings in liability damages and wild shifts in political opinion.  So I'd recommend keeping an eye on this very sharp interactive forecaster. (h/t Barry Ritholtz)

Here's the prediction for 6 a.m., June 15 (tomorrow).  As you can see, Pensacola is getting slammed.

Oil Spill Forecast

And here was the slick on June 9.

Oil Slick on June 9