Hurricane Alex barrels toward Texas-Mexico border
Now considered Category 1, Hurricane Alex bore down on southern Texas and the western Gulf of Mexico today, closing down energy platforms and the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port as it headed for landfall below the Rio Grande. The storm is the first hurricane of the season and the first June hurricane in 15 years, and was packing winds of 80 mph earlier today.
Three rigs and 28 platforms have been evacuated because of the storm, with almost 396,000 barrels of daily oil output shut in. The Louisiana port shut down production last night because of rough seas.
Tornadoes are possible in southern Texas today, along with dangerous waves on shore as the storm builds, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to make landfall late tonight or early tomorrow in the northeastern Mexico-southern Texas border area.
The rough seas caused by the hurricane have pushed more oil from the Gulf oil spill onto its beaches, and has sidelined cleanup vessels. In Louisiana, Alex dumped tar balls the size of apples onto Elmer's Island, while the storm streaked Alabama beaches with long lines of oil. There are also unconfirmed reports of tar balls on St. Joe Beach in Florida, and oil continues to wash up onto Pensacola and Navarre's beaches.
Cleanup vessels in Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi are expected to remain out of operation for several days.
Vice president visits Gulf Coast
Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit to Pensacola, Fla., Tuesday, leaving residents with mixed reactions. Biden visited Pensacola Naval Air Station, but didn't make a stop at the beach, where oil continues to wash up. Some were skeptical the visit would speed up the cleanup process, while others hoped the visit might shed light on the area's beaches, helping travelers realize that the beaches are still a great vacation destination.
Other people were just mad it took this long for both the president and vice president to pay a visit to Northwest Florida.
"They should have been out here" from Day 1, said one visitor to Pensacola Beach.