Alex Reaches Hurricane Strength -- First of Atlantic Season

June 30, 2010
(3:30 p.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Alex has now become the first named hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the category one hurricane is currently located about 110 miles east-northeast of La Pesca, Mexico, and 130 miles south-southeast of Brownsville, Texas. Maximum sustained winds have reached 85 miles per hour, and the hurricane continues to strengthen. Alex is moving toward the northwest, and is expected to make landfall in northeastern Mexico late Wednesday or early Thursday. It will begin to weaken as it reaches land.

Gale-force winds and storm surges in the gulf could cause serious problems for the oil spill cleanup. Although current predictions show that Alex will cross the gulf away from the oil spill, the Associated Press is reporting that rough seas and fierce winds have caused oil-skimming ships and barges that block the oil to return to port. And although scientists say that storm conditions could actually help the oil to break up and evaporate, the rough weather is also pushing oil towards shore.

Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes

Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez reports that due to high winds and seas, the port officials at Costa Maya told Oasis of the Seas that it was unsafe to dock. The ship will spend the day at sea and call in Cozumel on Thursday. Although Martinez and Cruise Critic members attribute the unusual weather to Hurricane Alex, Cesar Lizarraga, a Costa Maya port representative, tells us that "the Caribbean shore of Quintana Roo has been under very strong winds from the southeast and southwest" unrelated to Hurricane Alex.

Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports

Hurricane warnings are in effect for Texas (south of Baffin Bay to the mouth of Rio Grande) and Mexico (from the mouth of the Rio Grande to La Cruz). Tropical storm warnings are in effect on the Texas coast from Baffin Bay to Port O'Connor and on the Mexico coast from La Cruz to Cabo Rojo. Rain from the storm could produce flash floods and mudslides in Texas and Mexico, and as early as tonight, tropical storm wind conditions could begin to impact coastal regions. Storm surge and high waves will accompany Alex when it makes landfall. Already, dangerous storm conditions have killed four people in Guatemala and El Salvador this weekend, reports the A.P.

Given Alex's forecasted past, homeports along the gulf, such as Galveston, are unlikely to get a direct hit. However, high winds and rough seas may impact cruises in the Gulf of Mexico.

Stay tuned.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor

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