The U.S. Coast Guard reported the oil rig that caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday has sunk, and oil leaking from the rig could begin heading toward the Louisiana and Mississippi coastlines in the next day.
AccuWeather.com meteorologists predict the ocean current in the Gulf of Mexico will switch to a southerly direction in the next 24 to 36 hours, which will push oil on the surface of the ocean toward the southeastern U.S. coastline.
As of midday Thursday, the Gulf of Mexico current is taking oil from the sunken rig away from land, but meteorologists expect the current to change course as a storm from the Rockies begins to move toward the Mississippi Valley.
This next system scheduled to bring severe weather into the Mississippi Valley will switch winds to the south, pulling the ocean current in the same direction.
Surface oil washing upon beaches in Louisiana and Mississippi could be devastating for life along the coast. The Gulf Coast is known for having some the richest oyster beds in the country, and this spill is sure to have some effects on the industry.
AccuWeather.com meteorologists said there was a thunderstorm in the area of the oil rig explosion Tuesday night. Lightning could have potentially struck the rig, but weather as a cause for the explosion is under investigation by authorities.
Coast Guard crews said a crude oil sheen of 1-by-5 miles can be seen on the surface of the water.
Officials said 126 people were on board during the time of the explosion, and 115 people have been accounted for, with several injuries reported.
The U.S. Coast Guard is resuming aerial search efforts for the 11 oil rig workers missing since the Tuesday explosion.
The burning Transocean Deepwater Horizon mobile rig sank about 50 miles off the coast of Venice, La. around 10:30 a.m., local time Thursday morning.
AccuWeather.com's Jesse Ferrell discussed the thunderstorms in the vicinity of the explosion in his Thursday blog. Related to the Story: South Central Radar South Central Satellite Visit our Facebook Fan Page Follow us on Twitter Breaking Weather
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