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June 4, 2010 / V A Nichols

Oily Goo Reaches Gulf Shores, AL

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s latest 72-hour forecast trajectory for oil from BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill says that onshore winds are expected to continue through Sunday and that there will be a continued northward movement of the slick towards Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Shorelines as far east as Freeport, Fla., could be affected, NOAA forecasters said.

While the threat to Louisiana shorelines in Breton Sound, Chandeleur Sound, and the northeast side of the Mississippi Delta is reduced, to the west of the Delta, trajectories
indicate any remaining oil in this region could come ashore between Timbalier Bay and Southwest Pass, according to the NOAA forecasters.

This morning, waves of gooey tar blobs were washing ashore in growing numbers on Alabama beaches and eastward across to the Florida Panhandle. One Alabama woman reported finding a small, oil-covered bird in the road at Gulf Shores and turning it over to environmentalists. (Read previous report on bird.)

Wendi Butler watched glistening clumps of oil roll onto the white sand beach at Gulf Shores during a stroll this morning. An oily smell was in the air.

“You don’t smell the beach breeze at all,” said Butler, 40.

Butler moved to Perdido Bay from Mobile days before the spill. Now, her two kids don’t want to visit because of the oil and she can’t find a job.

Spotters who had been seeing a few tar balls in recent days found a substantially larger number starting before dawn on the beaches of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and nearby areas, a county emergency official said. The park is a long string of connected barrier islands near Pensacola.

Keith Wilkins from Escambia County emergency management said tar patties were pretty thick on parts of the beach, as much as one every foot.

Small gobs of reddish brown oil washed up in the surf for the first time in nearby Gulf Shores this morning and a petroleum smell tinged the air.

Officials have said it is inevitable oil will eventually wash up on Panhandle beaches after a slick from the Deepwater Horizon spill was spotted about 9 miles offshore this week. The edge of the spill had moved to four miles off the coast Thursday, Gov. Charlie Crist said after a flyover.

Crist said the news of today’s growth in tar balls was “very disturbing.”

“Obviously, it’s not the kind of news that we want to hear,” Crist said on CNN’s “American Morning.”

Alabama’s governor, Bob Riley, will travel to Louisiana today to meet with President Obama and discuss the latest spill-related developments . After the meeting, according to Riley’s office, the governor will travel back to Alabama and hold a press briefing at 3:30 p.m.

The briefing is scheduled to take place at the Downtown Air Center in the Brookley Field Industrial Complex.

The oil spill trajectory report shows that as of Sunday, the “line of uncertainty,” which shows the potential for oil spill migration, is well up Mobile Bay.

The forecast map is arrived at using National Weather Service data, as well as information from satellite and overflight observations, surface observations, current models and other data. It does not show the southernmost portion of the spill, which is the part experts worry will get caught in the powerful loop current that could take oil to the southern tip of the Florida peninsula and around to the East Coast.

The map for the southern portion of the spill is provided here in PDF format.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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