Texas Prepares as Tropical Storm Alex Heads Toward Hurricane Status

June 29, 2010

As of 10 a.m. CDT on June 29, Tropical Storm Alex was nearing hurricane strength in the western Gulf of Mexico and the National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects it to reach hurricane status later in the day. The storm is forecast to make landfall near the Mexico/Texas border late on June 30.

Risk Management Solutions reports that Alex’s potential track and intensity are similar to that of Hurricane Dolly, which made landfall near Brownsville, Texas, in July 2008 and caused more than $500 million in damage. Dolly caused most of its damage to South Padre Island before coming ashore causing additional wind and flood damage, according to the Insurance Council of Texas.

When and if Alex is declared by the NHC to have reached hurricane status, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association – the insurer of last resort along the Texas coast – will cease accepting applications for coverage as of 12:01 a.m. on the day hurricane status is declared.

In Texas, hurricane warnings extend along the coast from south of Baffin Bay to the Rio Grande. A tropical storm warning is in effect from Baffin Bay to Port O’Connor.

In advance of the storm, Gov. Rick Perry issued a disaster proclamation for 19 Texas counties and ordered the pre-deployment of state resources, such as the National Guard and other emergency response professionals and equipment.

The governor’s proclamation listed Aransas, Bee, Brooks, Cameron, Duval, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Live Oak, McMullen, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Webb, Willacy, and Zapata as being potentially vulnerable to impact from Alex. Perry also called upon the following counties to assist in the state’s response to the storm: Atascosa, Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe, Medina and Wilson.

Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros in Mexico are the largest cities located close to the projected landfall area. Brownsville has a population of around 140,000 and Matamoros, around 420,000, according to RMS. The popular resort area of South Padre Island in Texas is likely to be impacted, as well.

“Alex could become one of the earliest hurricanes in the season to hit Texas,” according to Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas. “Ever since they began naming hurricanes in 1954, only two hurricanes have struck Texas before July 1.”

Hurricane Audrey struck the Sabine Pass with 100 mile per hour winds on June 27, 1957, and Hurricane Bonnie struck Sea Rim State Park with 87 mile per hour wind gusts back on June 26, 1986.

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