June 29th, 2010

Update: Tropical Storm Alex

Posted at 3:45 PM ET

alexsmall1Tropical Storm Alex is located approximately 460 miles (735 kilometers) southeast of Brownsville in Texas and packs sustained winds of around 70 mph (110 kmph), according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Alex is currently traveling in a north-northwest direction and a turn towards the northwest is forecast for later today before shifting to the west-northwest tomorrow. The NHC said Alex is expected to strengthen over the next 48 hours and become the first hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. If Alex follows its forecast path, the NHC said the storm will make landfall just south of the Texas/Mexico border on July 1. The NHC said tropical storm-force winds extend 105 miles (165 kilometers) from the center of the storm.

A hurricane warning is in effect for the coast of Texas south of Baffin Bay to the mouth of the Rio Grande and the coast of Mexico from the mouth of the Rio Grande to La Cruz. A tropical storm warning has also been issued for the coast of Texas from Baffin Bay to Port O’Connor. The NHC said Alex could produce 5 to 10 inches (130 to 250 millimeters) of rain over parts of northeastern Mexico and southern Texas over the next 48 hours. Up to 4 inches of rainfall (100 millimeters) is also expected in parts of southern Mexico. The NHC said the heavy rain could cause life threatening flash floods and mudslides.

alexbig2

Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from i-aXs®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. i-aXs users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or Instrat® representative for assistance or go to www.i-axs.info for further information.

Storm surge warnings have also been issued by the NHC, with waves up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) above ground level expected along the immediate coast near and to the north of where the center of the storm makes landfall. The NHC said the surge could penetrate several miles inland. Forecasters said Alex looks set to avoid the BP oil spill off the Louisiana coast but could still generate waves as high as 12 feet (4 meters) in the region. BP has consequently announced that plans to increase the amount of oil being captured from the well could be delayed by up to a week.

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 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 just south of the Texas/Mexico border on July 1 with sustained winds of around 100 mph (160 kmph). However, long-term forecasts are subject to change and forecasters said Alex could come ashore anywhere from northern Mexico to central Texas.

Offshore, Shell Oil and Marathon Oil said production has been shutdown at some of their platforms near Alex’s forecast path. Shell, Marathon, Exxon Mobil, Anadarko Petroleum and Apache have also evacuated non-essential workers from platforms and rigs in the region. The Mexican ports of Dos Bocas and Cayo Arcas, which handle 80 percent 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.

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. 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.

Sources: National Hurricane Center, WSI, Associated Press, Reuters News, Agence France Presse

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