I thought I’d pretty much figured out the ultimate hurricane nightmare scenario for my novel EYEWALL: a rapidly strengthening category five storm barreling into an unsuspecting, heavily populated barrier island on a holiday weekend. It’s an event that’s within the realm of possibility, albeit of very low probability.
But reality has a funny way of trumping fiction. Along comes the Deepwater Horizon disaster spreading oil over the gulf like a Southerner ladling gravy onto biscuits, and the stage is set for something far worse than my feeble brain could ever have imagined.
Even as I write this, a generation of people along the Gulf Coast is watching its livelihood and legacy being washed away in a tsunami of petroleum. So how much worse could things get? Plenty, actually, if a hurricane were to swirl over the oil-polluted waters.
A storm sweeping northward over the Gulf of Mexico west of the slick could drive the blackened waters far inland, the plague of crude devastating areas well north of the beaches and marshes. It’s a scenario too ugly to contemplate. A nightmare come to life.
Admittedly, should this eventuality become reality, some of the oil could be broken up and “weathered” which would accelerate the biodegradation process. But whatever might happen, you have to feel that the negatives would far outweigh the positives.
So here we are, staring down the barrel of a “real life” nightmare scenario. And given that hurricane activity this year is divined to be above average and that the gulf is a fertile breeding ground for the greatest storms on earth, this is not a low-probability story line. It’s something that could all too easily come to fruition.
My advice: keep your eyes on the Gulf of Mexico the next four months and be afraid, very afraid.
Photo: Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico
This is a June 12th NASA satellite image of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. If things aren’t bad enough already, imagine what a hurricane rolling over these oily waters could do.