Hurricane Alex Hits the Coast of Mexico

June 30, 2010

(6:30 a.m EDT) -- Hurricane Alex -- the first named hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season -- reached land early on Thursday.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the hurricane hit Mexico as a category two storm, but has now weakened to a category one hurricane again. It is located about 20 miles north of Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, and 160 miles south-southeast of Brownsville, Texas. Maximum sustained winds have decreased to 80 miles per hour, and the hurricane will continue to weaken.

Gale-force winds and storm surges in the gulf could cause serious problems for the oil spill cleanup. Although Alex crossed 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 spent the day at sea on Wednesday and will call in Cozumel today (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 Mexico (from Rio San Fernando to La Cruz). Tropical storm warnings are in effect on the Mexico coast from La Cruz to Cabo Rojo and north of Rio San Fernando to the mouth of the Rio Grande.

The storm could produce up to 12 inches of rain over parts of north-eastern Mexico and up to eight inches over southern Texas, and the NHC is warning that the rainfall "could cause life-threatening flash floods". 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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