Alex has weakened to a tropical depression while over northwestern Guatemala and the extreme southwestern Yucatan peninsula. Alex will regain tropical storm status later tonight/ early Monday as it heads back over the Bay of Campeche (extreme southwestern Gulf of Mexico). Alex should become a hurricane later Monday and possibly a Cat 2 hurricane before landfall, which continues to be projected along the northeastern coast of Mexico Wednesday or Thursday, well south of Brownsville, Texas. Small swells from Alex will make it to the oil spill recovery area and to area beaches. This should not affect oil recovery efforts at sea but COULD push some oil ashore, DEPENDING upon swell size and duration (Swells are consistent rises and falls in the ocean that are caused by persistent winds far away). This would not happen before late Tuesday – more likely Wednesday or later.
If you have watched the WTVY news since Friday evening, you know that we have pushed this path into the far southwestern Gulf, contrary to the National Hurricane Center. Early on, the hurricane center hedged its projected path due to a few wayward in house computer models but has in the last 24 to 36 hours agreed to the western course. The national media unnecessarily hyped gulf coast concerns in our area as well as the spill zone (my worst fear was the early hype might send BP recovery efforts at the spill site packing, but thankfully BP and the Coast Guard used cold, hard logic, which was lacking late week and early weekend in quite a few national headlines).
HOWEVER, there are TWO concerns. If Alex intensifies to a Cat 2 hurricane (50% chance, and if Alex slows and is over water longer there is a small window for a Cat 3 status – about a 25% chance) before Mexican landfall, those swells mentioned above would a more significant issue – not so much at the oil spill site, but for bringing oil ashore in the area. The second issue is the possibility that much of Alex’s moisture COULD be pulled away from the storm by a separate low that combines with an approaching front at mid week to bring really heavy rainfall for WTVY- TV area! Interestingly, if Alex gets stronger (mid Cat 2 or higher), then that heavy rainfall threat for us would likely NOT materialize.