Busy Hurricane Season Spells Trouble For Oil In Gulf

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Oil floats ashore at the Grand Isle East State Park May 27, 2010 on Grand Isle, Louisiana.

A historically high hurricane season this year could cause trouble for the Gulf coast. Forecasters are predicting 8 to 14 Atlantic hurricanes, well above the average of 6. It's likely a big storm could hit the Gulf oil spill creating even more environmental damage as it pushes the oil further inland.

Government officials are predicting a busy hurricane season in the Atlantic, one that could increase coastal damage from the oil spill. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expecting 8 to 14 hurricanes during the Atlantic season, which begins June first. That's well above the historical average of just six. NOAA officials say water temperatures in the Atlantic are up to four degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal, which will help storms strengthen. Also, El Nino wind conditions that helped discourage storms last year seem to be dissipating. And since 1995 the Atlantic has been in a period of high hurricane activity.

All of that increases the likelihood that a hurricane will encounter the oil spill in the Gulf.

If that happens, NOAA officials say, a combination of high winds and storm surge could push oil far into the wetlands that help protect the Gulf Coast. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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