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Hurricane Alex & the Gulf Oil Spill

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Boats in a storm - Hurricane Alex & oil spillTropical Storm Alex has gained strength and is expected to become Hurricane Alex today as it heads toward the U.S./Mexico boarder, hampering cleanup efforts in the Gulf Coast.

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is expected to turn northwest and west by Wednesday.

It’s projected to approach the coast of northeastern Mexico and southern Texas on Wednesday and make landfall by Wednesday night.

At present, the storm is moving northwestward at 13 mph with little change in strength, reaching maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. Waves in the Gulf have reached as high as 12 feet.

Hurricane Alex, via National Hurricane CenterThe Coast Guard reports that all efforts to clean up oil from the BP spill have been halted off the coasts of Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.  Skimming ships in the Gulf of Mexico were sent back to shore today due to rough waters and high winds. It’s not yet clear when clean-up efforts will be able to resume.

The storm is expected to remain west of the oil spill zone, which means drilling of the two relief wells can continue uninterrupted.

There may be some good news to report as the National Weather Center reports that high winds and seas from a hurricane could “mix and weather the oil” which could help along the biodegradation process.

However, a hurricane passing to the west of the oil slick, where Tropical Storm Alex is currently positioned, could drive oil inland to the coast.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, while the Eastern Pacific hurricane season is May 15 through November 30.

By Sarika Chawla for PeterGreenberg.com.

Related links: NHC – Hurricane Alex, NHC – Hurricane/Oil Facts, CBS News, USA Today, Los Angeles Times

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