With millions of gallons of crude oil floating in the Gulf and washing up along the shoreline, officials are concerned that if a major hurricane comes through, it could make this environmental disaster in U.S. history even worse.
Houston County EMA Director Clark Matthews spent most of last week attending the Gulf States Hurricane Conference in Mobile.
He says while we can't predict what will happen if a hurricane comes that way, we can certainly try.
Imagine this: a massive hurricane churns its way through the Gulf of Mexico, mixing with millions of gallons of crude oil and it's coming for the coast.
“I think it's terrifying, it's not something I was taught in school, it's not something I’ve even thought or thought I’d even have to think of,” said meteorologist Martha Spencer.
Meteorologist Martha Spencer says there are a couple of scenarios that need to be addressed.
“One is what could the oil do to the hurricane and what could the hurricane to the oil? We know that with the amount of oil there is really is not going to change the dynamics of the storm,” said Spencer.
But could the storm carry the crude hundreds of miles inland to places like Houston County?
Officials say not likely.
“They said we'd have minimum if any impact. It would basically come up on shore in a lot of places and that's going to be a major clean up if it happens,” said Matthews.
Matthews says most tropical storms and hurricanes come out of the east.
An oil-soaked storm coming out of the west could pose a threat.
“A lot of uncertainly lies with this but it mainly depends on the track that it takes,” added Spencer.
With a busy hurricane season expected, officials are doing all they can to prepare for the oil "X" factor.
“The problem with this is it's never happened, we've never been able to track oil,” said Spencer.
“Well I think it's going to be one of the worst disasters in history when it's all said and done,” said Matthews.
Matthews says EMA officials from all over the state are heading to the coast to help.
A couple of Houston County workers will be going to Mobile to handle reimbursement requests that many small towns are requesting from BP.