By Phaedra Friend Troy
Tropical Storm Alex continues its slow march through the Gulf of Mexico, expected to become a hurricane later Tuesday. WATCH NOW
Located about 460 miles southeast of Brownsville, Tropical Storm Alex is near hurricane strength and is expected to become one later today, reports ImpactWeather.
With winds spanning some 105 miles wide, the season's first major storm cuts a wide swath in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical Storm Alex is traveling to the north-northwest at a speed of 10 miles per hour and is expected to turn to the northwest later today.
Currently, maximum sustained winds on the storm are reaching 70 miles per hour with higher gusts.
Offshore Petroleum Industry Prepares for the Storm
Major oil producer Royal Dutch Shell has evacuated 700 offshore workers from its platforms and facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, leaving some 835 staff offshore. Furthermore, Shell shut-in production from its Western and Central Gulf of Mexico assets in preparation should a full evacuation be necessary.
Although they have not yet turned off the taps on their offshore facilities, BP, Apache, ExxonMobil and Anadarko have also evacuated offshore employees in the path of the storm, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Furthermore, BP continues to forge ahead with its plans to enhance the oil spill containment system in the deepwaters of the Gulf of Mexico. While the storm is passing far west of the Macondo well and oil slick, the team is carefully watching its developments.
Alex to Make Landfall Later This Week
Forecasts model the storm making landfall in northern Mexico or southern Texas, but as with any storm, there is uncertainties about its path.
“Although our forecast takes Alex inland south of Brownsville, Texas, on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, there is consideable uncertainty as to whether Alex will make the turn to the west on Tuesday as early as predicted,” reported ImpactWeather.
Should the storm not turn westward, there is some chance that Alex could travel more northward, hitting the coast of Texas as far east as Matagorda Bay or Freeport on Thursday.
The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season has been predicted to be “extremely active,” with forecasts calling for as many as 23 named storms forming this year.
Look to PennEnergy’s Global Offshore Weather Report daily to find out the most up-to-date information about this storm, as well as wind, weather and wave information for the nine busiest offshore regions worldwide.