Hurricane Alex pounds Mexico but spares US oil rigs

* Alex makes landfall in Mexico as Category 2 storm

* US says more than 421,000 bpd oil, 919 mmcfd gas shut in

By Tomas Bravo

MATAMOROS, Mexico, July 1 (BestGrowthStock) – Hurricane Alex
drenched the Texas-Mexico border on Thursday as the powerful
storm slammed into Mexico’s Gulf coast, spawning tornadoes and
flooding towns, but it spared U.S. oil wells.

Unleashing winds of 105 mph (165 kph) that uprooted trees
and knocked over flimsy houses, the Category 2 hurricane was a
blow to efforts to control the BP Plc (BP.L: ) (BP.N: ) oil spill
off the Louisiana coast, where some operations were suspended.

Rain from the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic season
swelled the streets of the port city of Matamoros. Across the
border in Brownsville, Texas, at least three tornadoes swept
through the area, although no major damage was reported.

“We are all exhausted and the water is up to our waists in
the street,” said a bedraggled man who gave his name as Juan as
he struggled to reach a crowded shelter in Matamoros.

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Take a Look on hurricane season [ID:nN2005]

Factbox [ID:nN29TORMFA]

Graphic http://link.reuters.com/nyx84m

National Hurricane Center: http://link.reuters.com/cex74m

Storm track:
http://www.skeetobiteweather.com/picservice.asp?t=m&m=01&av=4

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Alex has forced oil and gas companies to cut back
production, even though the hurricane path was well southwest
of major U.S. offshore facilities.

Oil companies still shut down production of more than
421,000 barrels per day, about a quarter of the Gulf’s output,
as a precaution. [ID:nN30246945]

They have also shut 919 million cubic feet per day of gas
output, some 14 percent of the Gulf’s total.

Efforts to burn off and skim spilled oil and spray
dispersants were suspended at the BP leak. Officials said oil
capturing and drilling would have to stop if the winds reach 46
mph (74 kph). [ID:nN30253253]

Mexican marines evacuated thousands of people from fishing
communities along the Gulf coast and into shelters, but some
refused to leave their homes even as water ran in under doors.

“The primary threat from Alex will be torrential rains
totaling as high as 20 inches (50 cm), which would likely
produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides over the
mountainous regions of Mexico,” the U.S. National Hurricane
Center said, adding that Alex was the first and strongest
Category 2 hurricane to occur in June since 1966.

Alex made landfall on the Tamaulipas coast around 9 p.m. on
Wednesday (0200 GMT on Thursday), the Miami-based center said.
Its rains had already flooded highways as far inland as the
industrial city of Monterrey.

One man died in Monterrey on Wednesday when his house
collapsed in the heavy rains, rescue authorities said. Alex
killed a dozen people in Central America over the weekend.
(Writing and additional reporting by Robin Emmott, Editing by
Sandra Maler)

Hurricane Alex pounds Mexico but spares US oil rigs