Tropical Storm Alex became the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season when it developed on June 25. Alex subsequently moved across Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico as a tropical storm on June 26/27, bringing strong winds and heavy rain to the region. Alex has since re-emerged in the southern Gulf of Mexico and is currently located approximately 75 miles (115 kilometers) west of Campeche in Mexico with sustained winds of around 50 mph (85 kmph), according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The storm is traveling in a northwest direction and this general motion is expected to continue for the next 48 hours as the storm strengthens. The NHC said tropical storm-force winds extend 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the center of the storm.
The NHC said Alex could produce 4 to 8 inches (100 to 200 millimeters) of rain in the Yucatan Peninsula, southern Mexico and parts of Guatemala, with up to 15 inches (380 millimeters) possible in mountainous areas. Heavy rainfall could also fall in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Veracruz on June 29/30. Forecasters said Alex looks set to avoid the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico but will continue to closely monitor the situation.
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On its current path, Alex is projected to make its second landfall later this week. The NHC said Alex could become a hurricane later today or tomorrow and reach category 2 status before making landfall in northern Mexico or Texas. Although there is significant uncertainty in both the forecast track and intensity, the NHC said Alex is currently expected to make landfall in northeastern Mexico on July 1 with sustained winds of around 110 mph (175 kmph). However, long-term forecasts are subject to change and forecasters said Alex could come ashore anywhere from northern Mexico to central Texas.
Earlier, Alex made landfall in Belize, near Belize City, on June 26 as a tropical storm with sustained winds of around 60 mph (95 kmph). The storm then tracked northwest across the Yucatan Peninsula, weakening to a tropical depression before re-emerging over the Gulf of Mexico and intensifying back into a tropical storm. Reports said only minor damage was reported in Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula but 10 people were killed in northwestern Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador by landslides and swollen rivers.
Offshore, Shell Oil said production was shutdown at the Auger and Brutus platforms in the Gulf due to the storm threat. The company added that non-essential workers were evacuated from production platforms and drilling rigs in U.S.-regulated areas of the Gulf of Mexico oilfields. The Mexican ports of Dos Bocas and Cayo Arcas, which handle 80percent of all the country’s export shipping in the Gulf of Mexico, were also closed due to bad weather and strong surf in the area.
Sources: National Hurricane Center, WSI, Associated Press, Reuters News, Agence France Presse
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