More than half-way through the summer, BP has finally capped the spewing well in the Gulf of Mexico and is, at this point, preventing any more oil from spewing from the ruptured Deep Horizon Oil well 5,000 feet below the surface. There are reports that the capping has instigated a seepage of oil in other spots, which could be terrible if confirmed, but with the first of two relief wells almost complete and set to open in just a couple short weeks, officials are hopeful that there is an end in sight to this mess.
So far, despite low numbers, the Panama City Beach summer has been fantastic. The people that have come to our beaches have greatly enjoyed themselves and as evidenced on our Facebook page, been really grateful that they kept their travel plans. Many that have changed or canceled their plans to the beach have regretted it.
Over the last several weeks, there have been very few instances of tarballs and oil-related product washing ashore on our beaches. There has been some, but the 1000+ workers that can be seen walking up and down our beaches have been tasked with spotting, reporting and cleaning up any landfall immediately. In most cases, tarballs are completely recovered within hours of their landfall. Most visitors have no idea there was ever anything there, other than crystal white sand.
As of right now, the oil plume is around 130 miles away from our beaches. At one point, it was as close as 20 miles away. Easterly winds and strong currents are keeping it away from us.
We have a “robust” booming system going in at the pass at St. Andrew’s State Park that is actually a boom gate supported by huge eighteen 42 inch steel pillings that will close when the tide is coming in to prevent as much oil from coming inland as possible, should it become a more serious threat.
So, at this point, you may be asking yourself, what now? At this point, we are way outside the NOAA 72 hour area of uncertainty. And our beaches are still remarkable. If you are planning, or were planning a vacation down here, then you should come down here before the summer gets away from you. You don’t have that much time left as August is right around the corner, school supplies are already on sale at Target and you’ll be glad you did when you can slip your toes into our warm, clear waters and hide some of our snow-white sand in a pocket of shorts to remember when you get home. Wow, was that a run-on?
Get down here, enjoy our beaches.