Tropical Storm Alex, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, is moving across the Yucatan Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico today on a track that would keep it away from the Gulf oil spill.
The storm, with maximum sustained winds near 50 miles per hour, was becoming better organized as it moved slowly away from the Yucatan Peninsula, according to an advisory issued early this morning from the National Hurricane Center. Alex could become a hurricane later today or Tuesday.
A tropical storm watch might be required later today for portions of the coastal regions of northeastern Mexico and south Texas, the National Hurricane Center said.
"Odds are it is not an issue for the cleanup," Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, told Bloomberg. He said the storm is likely to intensify to a Category 1 hurricane before making its final landfall near Tampico later this week.
Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the government's national incident commander for the spill, said officials are monitoring Alex carefully.
"We understand that [the storm] is moving westerly at this point and does not threaten the site," Allen said Sunday during a conference call. "But we know that these tracks can change and are paying very close attention to it."
About 6,000 vessels involved in cleanup, oil-recovery and relief drilling efforts would begin evacuating when the National Weather Service forecasts gale-force winds at the well site, Allen said.