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Oil spill could cripple Florida tourism

It's anyone's guess whether the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will reach the shores of South Florida, but if it does it could translate into a loss of $10 million a day for hotel, boating and fishing businesses in the area.

Authorities and forecasters says the spill is still days away, or may never get there, depending on the winds and Gulf currents, The Miami Herald reports.

The massive oil spill erupted after the April 20 explosion on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, killing 11 people. BP owns the leaking well in the northern Gulf.

On Monday, the spill was about 80 miles from the "loop current,'' which gets its name from the fact that it loops around the eastern Gulf toward the Keys. The current then travels up South Florida's east coast.

If the oil enters the loop current, it could take about 10 days to hit the Keys and even longer to reach Miami-Dade and Broward, Igor Kamenkovich, a professor at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, told the newspaper.

"It's highly unpredictable,'' said Kamenkovich. Any major changes in wind or weather patterns such as a cold front or a hurricane could change the forecast, he said.

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