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Gulf oil spill: Will it hit Miami, Fort Lauderdale soon?

Oil is more likely to keep moving east because of the so-called loop current, NOAA officials said in a report issued Friday. The likelihood of the Gulf oil spill soon hitting the Keys and the southeastern coast of Florida is 80 percent, according to the officials.

Gulf oil spill: Oil cleanup workers hired by BP pick up oil on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala., Friday, July 2, 2010. Oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident is expected to come ashore over the July 4th weekend.

Dave Martin/AP

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It is highly likely that oil moving through the Gulf of Mexico will soon end up affecting the Florida Keys and the Miami and Fort Lauderdale coastlines, say officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In a report issued Friday, NOAA officials say that oil is more likely to keep moving east than west to Texas because of the so-called loop current – a fast-moving underwater current from the Caribbean that has the potential to pick up oil from the south end of the slick and rotate it into the direction of the southern Florida coast.

The loop current is pushing oil through the Gulf at a rate approaching 100 miles a day.

IN PICTURES: The Gulf oil spill's impact on nature

According to NOAA, the underwater oil plume is currently 50 miles from Panama City, Fla., and 271 miles from St. Petersburg. So far, all beaches in the state remain open.

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