Oil from sunken rig spreading across Gulf

HATTIESBURG, MS (ACCUWEATHER) -  Oil is still leaking from the sunken rig in the Gulf of Mexico, extending the spill as upcoming winds threaten to bring oil to the beaches along four states by this weekend.

While sunshine and calm seas will aid in cleanup efforts of the Deepwater Horizon rig through Wednesday, thunderstorms, increasing winds and building seas are forecast to spread from west to east late Thursday and Friday.

AccuWeather.com meteorologists foresee winds beginning to pull up out of the south Thursday into Friday as the storm system currently plaguing the Pacific Northwest moves across the Nation's midsection.

Oil will be pulled toward the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, possibly reaching the beaches early this weekend.

Winds beginning late Thursday will gust up to 25 mph, yielding wave heights of 3 to 9 ft, and will continue through early next week. The Gulf is sure to be choppy through this time period.

The Associated Press reports that cleanup efforts were first interrupted by poor weather this past weekend. Rain, thunderstorms and rough seas hit the region.

Oil is spilling from the Deepwater Horizon rig, which sunk about 50 miles off the coast of Venice, La.

There could be as much as 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board the sunken rig. Experts studying the spill estimate that 42,000 gallons of crude oil are leaking each day.

A new oil leak was just discovered on Saturday. Fox News reports the oil sheen surrounding the rig is extending 1,800 square miles, which is an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

As of Sunday morning, the New York Times reports that 48,000 gallons of oil-water mix had been collected. Around 30 vessels have been deployed to help clean the oil slick.

The Deepwater Horizon rig caught on fire on Tuesday after an explosion, then sunk on Thursday.

Eleven workers on the rig remain missing and are presumed dead. Another 115 workers escaped, but several sustained injury.

By AccuWeather.com meteorologists Kristina Pydynowski and Alex Sosnowski and writer Carly Porter

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