MATAMOROS, Mexico - The first Atlantic hurricane of the season has made landfall in northeastern Mexico.
Hurricane Alex, a Category 2 storm churning in the Gulf of Mexico, had sustained winds of near 105 mph when it made landfall at about 10 p.m. EDT Wednesday at Soto La Marina, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.
The storm is far from the Gulf oil spill, but cleanup vessels were sidelined by the hurricane's ripple effects. Six-foot waves churned up by the hurricane splattered beaches in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida with oil and tar balls.
The storm was moving west at about 10 mph, and was about 110 miles south of Brownsville, Texas when it struck Mexico.
Earlier in the day, workers planned to evacuate 2,500 people from coastal areas east of Matamoros, said Civil Protection Director Saul Hernandez, who added that he was most concerned about 13,000 families in low-lying areas where there are few public utilities or city services.
Oil rigs and platforms in the path of the storm were evacuated, and President Barack Obama issued a pre-emptive federal disaster declaration for southern Texas counties late Tuesday.
In Louisiana, the storm dumped tar balls as big as apples on beaches at Grand Isle and uninhabited Elmer's Island. Cleanup workers were kept at bay by rain and lightning.
"The sad thing is that it's been about three weeks since we had any big oil come in here," marine science technician Michael Malone said. "With this weather, we lost all the progress we made."