BELIZE CITY, Belize – Tropical Storm Alex made landfall late Saturday on Belize’s coast, where hundreds of tourists and residents fled low-lying islands ahead of the storm’s arrival.
Besides Belize, Alex’s torrential rains were drenching Guatemala and Mexico’s resort-studded Caribbean coast.
The storm, with maximum sustained winds of about 60 mph, was expected to weaken as it pushed its way across the Yucatan Peninsula, then regain strength later today as it entered the Gulf of Mexico. Alex appeared headed west of the massive oil spill in parts of the Gulf, but meteorologists warned that a storm’s track can quickly change.
The latest Hurricane Center forecast puts Alex on a track that would take it through the southwestern Gulf and toward landfall around Veracruz or Tamaulipas state in Mexico – possibly as a hurricane.
Hurricane forecaster Jack Bevens said for now, the storm is not expected to hit the spill that has fouled the Gulf with somewhere between 69 million gallons and 132 million gallons of crude.
He noted, however, that it’s too early to say with certainty where Alex will go.
The storm has raised concerns over what might happen to containment efforts if oil company BP is forced to abandon the area for a while. An armada of ships is working in the Gulf.
A cap has been placed over the blown-out undersea well and it is carrying some of the oil to a surface ship where it is being collected. Some of the oil is being brought to the surface and burned. Other ships are drilling two relief wells, projected to be done by August, and are the best hope to stop the leak.
Meanwhile in the Pacific, two storms, Celia and Darby, were far offshore late Saturday night and did not pose an immediate threat to land.