A tropical wave in the west-central Caribbean is kicking up thunderstorms from the eastern coasts of Honduras and Nicaragua to Mexico's northeastern Yucatan Peninsula. It could turn into a tropical cyclone and a nightmare for the Gulf of Mexico.
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen described a cut-and-run plan in a conference call to reporters Friday morning in which he said, ``Realistically, out of an abundance of caution,'' the Deepwater Horizon well would remain uncapped for ``14 days.''
Allen also announced that Vice President Joe Biden would visit the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday.
Hurricane contingencies have become major concerns for planners trying to clean up the runaway Deepwater Horizonspill in its 67th day.
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The weather service said Friday morning there was a 70 percent chance the system in the west-central Caribbean would become a tropical cyclone over the weekend -- a storm system that could produce powerful winds.
The Air Force planned to send out hurricane hunter aircraft later Friday to explore the as-yet unformed weather system, which could yet shape up to become the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.
In Washington, Allen told reporters that planning for a hurricane would require an evacuation of the wrecked oil rig's site once 40-knot winds are predicted to arrive within five days.
That means unplugging the makeshift system called a ``top hat'' that has been collecting a portion of the gushing crude.
Were there a coming hurricane, coastal clean-up efforts would also be abandoned in the Gulf, said Allen, who until recently was the commandant of the Coast Guard. ``I don't think anyone wants a vessel out there trying to skim oil,'' he said.