Wajib sokong Morsi - Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi HOME

Monday, June 28, 2010

Season's 1st tropical storm forms near Yucatan

By Matthew Bigg

ATLANTA, June 27 (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Alex, the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, formed on Saturday near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula with the potential to become a hurricane and disrupt efforts to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Alex had sustained winds of 46 mph (73 km per hour) and was located about 200 miles (320 km) east of Belize City, Belize.

It was moving west-northwest at 10 mph (16 kph) on a path that was expected to take it toward Belize and over the Yucatan Peninsula during the weekend and then into the Gulf of Mexico, where BP officials are battling to contain a massive oil spill.

"Once in the Gulf of Mexico ... in a couple of days the cyclone could gain some strength and Alex is forecast to become a hurricane by the end of the forecast period," the center said.

It was too early to know whether Alex could threaten oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, or whether it could affect clean-up operations from the oil spill and possibly force a temporary shutdown.

Alex was expected to hit the Yucatan Saturday night or Sunday morning. Its tropical storm force winds extend up to 105 miles (165 km) east of the center. The islands of Honduras are expected to see tropical storm force winds by Saturday afternoon.

The hurricane center said a tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions were expected within the area in the next 36 hours. The warning was in effect for the coast of Belize and the east coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula from Chetumal to Cancun and the islands of Roatan, Guanaja and Utila in Honduras.

A tropical storm watch, meaning tropical storm conditions were expected within the area in the next 48 hours, was in effect for the coast of Honduras from Limon westward to the border of Honduras and Guatemala.

Alex was expected to bring 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) of rain through Sunday evening.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 and meteorologists predict this year will be a very active one. Hurricanes feed on warm water and the sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic are higher than usual this year.

In the Pacific, Hurricane Darby continued to move farther away from Mexican coast and was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane on Saturday, 310 miles (500 km) south-southwest of the Mexican beach resort of Zihuatanejo.

Farther out, Hurricane Celia weakened to a Category 1 status and posed no threat to land.

© REUTERS 2010