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Gulf oil spill could reach Florida Keys by Sunday

University scientists say a portion of the Gulf oil spill could reach Key West in the Florida Keys next weekend.

Crews collect sand samples at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park beach in Key West Fla.,Tuesday May 17, 2010. Twenty tar balls were found in Key West on Monday and are being analyzed to see if they came from the Deepwater oil spill. University scientists say oil from the Gulf spill could reach the Florida Keys by Sunday.

AP Photo/The Citizen, Rob O'Neal

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University scientists are forecasting that oil from the spill off Louisiana could reach Florida's Key West by Sunday.

University of South Florida researchers said Tuesday the southern arm of the massive spill has entered or is near the so-called loop current, which circulates in the Gulf and takes water south to the Florida Keys and the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream could eventually take the oil up Florida's Atlantic coast.

Twenty tar balls were found by the Coast Guard off Key West on Monday. They are being tested by the Coast Guard to see if they came from the Louisiana spill or elsewhere. Tar balls can occur naturally or come from other sources such as ships.

USF scientists use currents, wind forecasts and other elements to make their predictions.

Related:

Gulf oil spill: Has BP 'turned corner' with siphon success?

Gulf spill oil driven by complex ocean currents and eddies


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