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Tropical Storm Alex forms; unclear whether it will affect oil spill

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Alex first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season this year
  • Tropical storm in the oil-tainted Gulf would disrupt BP efforts
  • High winds and seas could spread the oil

(CNN) -- Tropical Storm Alex -- the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season this year -- formed in the Caribbean on Saturday as BP continued to battle a massive oil spill in the Gulf.

Alex had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and was about 250 miles away from Chetumal, Mexico. It was moving toward Belize and over the Yucatan Peninsula.

It was not clear whether the storm could hit the part of the Gulf affected by the massive oil spill that has been gushing since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers.

A tropical storm in the oil-tainted Gulf of Mexico would disrupt BP efforts to drill relief wells and capture the oil at sea. It would also complicate efforts to clean up miles of coastline.

High winds and seas could distribute the oil -- still gushing from a blown deepwater well -- over a wider area while storm surges could wash more oil ashore, according to a fact sheet prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast of Belize, the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and various islands of Honduras. It means storm conditions are expected within the warning area within 36 hours.

 
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