The storm, just upgraded to a hurricane a little over 12 hours ago, has for several days been stirring up the waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico, and despite its long distance from the site of the Deepwater Horizon spill, large waves and choppy seas propagating away from Alex's center are already hampering oil clean up efforts.
Here's what's happening now...
- Hurricane Alex is a HUGE storm! The outer bands of the hurricane are spreading out hundreds of miles from the center of circulation and are bringing with them to the northeast Gulf heavy rain and large waves as high as 12 feet.
- In at least one area of coastal Louisiana, the waves were tossing oil-soaking boom around and forcing crews to take precious time putting it back in place. The fear here is oil crashing over the booms, therefore compromising containment.
- Due to thunderstorms and high seas, all near-shore skimmers have been idled off the coasts of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.
- Although minimal, the winds from Hurricane Alex are causing oily waves to slam into Gulf coast beaches, washing away progress already made. Tar balls have reportedly popped up on Louisiana beaches that had been relatively oil-free for a few weeks.