Chemical Breakdown: "Lots of small oil droplets have a much greater surface area than a floating layer," said Mark Bourassa, a meteorologist at Florida State University, in an e-mail to ABC News. "That helps 'stuff' in the water get the oil and either react chemically or biologically with it."
Already, the surface slick has been fragmented by the weather, said Hans Graber, professor of marine physics at the University of Miami. "That's partly due to the almost daily, very intense thunderstorms hitting the area."
Still, the prospect of a busy hurricane season is cause for anxiety in the Gulf region. "A hurricane is a powerful engine that turns warm water vapor into wind and rain," said NOAA's Vaccaro. "If one were to come ashore in the northern Gulf, that's a hazard in and of itself."
On Monday, as Alex meandered across the southern Gulf, John Young, the council chairman of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, said he was frustrated. Jefferson Parish comprises most of the western suburbs of New Orleans, and has been affected both by storms and the BP accident.
"We've already lost over 68 days of decent weather and this is going to be an active hurricane season," Young said. "They're going to start coming, yet there continues to be a lack of a sense of urgency."