Eyewitness News reporters cover Alex

An empty beach at Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi. Officials are closing the park at 5pm today (June 29) in anticipation of high tides from Alex. (Photo from Christine Dobbyn)

July 1, 2010 7:44:33 PM PDT
Eyewitness News reporters Wayne Dolcefino, Christine Dobbyn and Ted Oberg are reporting from south Texas and Louisiana as Alex churns up the Gulf. Thursday, July 1

Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller- 9:42pm
Alex has been downgraded to a tropical depression. Winds are about 30 mph in some of the thunderstorms over northern Mexico.

No additional advisories will be issued on this storm.

However, rain continues to be a threat.

Additional heavy showers are possible across southeast Texas again Friday. 8-10" fell across Brazoria County on Thursday, while other areas south of I-10 had 2-5" of rain. It's impossible to tell where the heavy storms will be on Friday. The Flood Watch continues and could be extended.

Reporter Christine Dobbyn - 10:07am
The Day After: We spotted a fallen palm tree laying across a fence at a condo complex on South Padre Island.

City crews spent Thursday morning picking up debris along the roadside. One city worker says Alex was mild compared to Dolly in 2008 where they found everything from fish to fence posts in the roadway.

Business owners from restaurants to souvenir shops are taking boards off the windows, cleaning up and hanging up Open signs. Many are relieved Alex didn't leave more of a mark especially since one of their most profitable weekends of the year is coming up for the Fourth of July.

Sandbags were moved out of the way as one souvenir and t-shirt shop reopened. T-shirts that read "I survived Hurricane Alex" were for sale in the window.

Thursday, July 1

Meteorologist Travis Herzog- 9:38am
Tropical Storm Alex continues to weaken despite still showing a well-defined eye on satellite imagery. Winds are now down to 50 mph. Alex is now approaching the higher terrain of Mexico and should completely dissipate tonight.

All watches and warnings have been discontinued.

Meanwhile, our heaviest Alex-related rains have yet to arrive, and the NWS has just issued a flash flood watch for our southwestern counties until 4AM. The counties include: Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Jackson, Matagorda, Wharton.

Alex's moisture will continue to present a heavy rainfall threat around here through the holiday weekend as distrubances track overhead.

Wednesday, June 30

Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller- 9:46pm
The storm is inland now, about 110 south of Brownsville; it's still a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds in the eyewall. Alex is moving west at 10 mph.

Port O'Connor area no longer under a tropical storm warning, but a coastal flood warning remains in effect for southeast Texas coasts.

Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller- 7:18pm
Based on radar, I would expect the eyewall to start to push into northern Mexico about 8pm. The eye will cross the coast about 9pm, marking landfall, halfway between San Fernando and La Pesca.

The 100 mph winds are within the eyewall, which will only affect a small area, south of the border. Tropical storm force winds are possible in Brownsville and South Padre, along with very heavy rain squalls.

Christine Dobbyn - 7:16pm
Howling winds and rain are seen on Padre Boulevard on South Padre Island. Most of the tourists left the island but many locals say they will wait out the category 2 hurricane.

Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller- 3:54pm
Alex is still a category one hurricane with 90mph winds. The storm is moving westward at 13mph, and it's expected to continue moving west thru landfall. Some additional strengthening is still possible before landfall.

The forecast track now takes it ashore about 100 miles south of Matamoros, just southeast of San Fernando. The eye will reach the coast around midnight, BUT the eyewall will reach the coast by 10pm. (Landfall is marked by the moment the center of the storm crosses the coast.)

Alex is physically a large storm with tropical storm (+39 mph) winds extend out 205 miles from the center of the storm. Hurricane force winds extend out about 70 miles either side of the eye. Matamoros reported a gust of 64 mph.

Ted Oberg - 1:33pm
I think there is a sense that Hurricane Alex largely missed us -- that the storm, while strong, will go into Mexico sparing the Gulf Coast much damage. I will leave it to my colleagues Christine Dobbyn and Wayne Dolcefino in South Texas and Mexico to describe the effects there. But from here along the oiled coastlines of Louisiana, Alex is doing great damage.

Certainly BP continues to do the needed work at the well site to drill relief wells and capture oil in containment devices -- but that's not enough. For two days now thousands of clean up boats have been idled -- tied up in safe harbors. These are the boats that pick up the oil BP's missed at the well site. It's millions of gallons close to the beaches and marshes from Louisiana to Florida.

These states didn't have two days to waste waiting on the weather to improve.

The storm will churn up the water and that will help disperse the oil at sea, BUT close to shore the higher waves and minimal 3 foot storm surge is carrying oil that was close to shore, ON TO shore. If the thousands of boats were out on the water, that's the oil they would've been picking up.

We will be on the Mississippi coast for tonight's newscasts -- there it will be easy to see if oil is coming ashore faster thanks to Alex. In Louisiana it won't be. In Louisiana we won't know until crews can get out to see how much boom was pushed hopelessly into marshes and lost -- how much oil came right over those booms and into protected areas -- and how much coastal work needs to be redone.

A fisherman told us yesterday Mother Nature is in charge, not BP and it's true. Today Mother Nature is not being kind to the Gulf Coast.

Wayne Dolcefino - 12:50pm
We are getting slammed in wind and rain at Playa Bagdad just southeast of Matamoros. Heavily armed soldiers braving driving rain going door to door rescuing folks. We've seen dozens of evacuees on buses.

Christine Dobbyn - 12:20pm
Most of South Padre Island looks like a ghost town except for the Speedy Pack Food Mart -- believed to be the only place open for last minute supplies in town. The owner said he didn't want to leave everyone high and dry so he's staying open as long as he can.

The few who stayed to whether the storm spent the last couple of days getting supplies. One woman will be well prepared since she says she spent $1,200 on groceries at HEB yesterday she's invited anyone around to come by and join them. She has used every spot available at her condo to keep the food iced down including her bath tub.

Ted Oberg - 11:55am
For the second day in a row awful weather is keeping thousands of boats tied up along the Gulf coast. We are in Venice, Louisiana, where people who've spent weeks cleaning up oil are taking a day off from the clean up. Alex's wind and waves are too much for boom and small boats.

Wayne Dolcefino - 10:59am
We are south of Matamoros near the Tomates Bridge. Flooding is already a problem south of the border. Lots of streets already have a foot of water and it's beginning to look like Matamoros is going to be on dirty side of the storm if it comes in just south of the border.

Texas DPS - 10:30am
DPS says State Highway 87 is closed from the ferry landing to High Island due to high water. That covers pretty much the entire length of Bolivar Peninsula.

Meteorologist Travis Herzog - 9:56am
Alex has taken a bit of a northward jog this morning but is still on track to make landfall in northern Mexico. Given its current northwestward motion, if a westerly motion does not resume soon, it will make landfall closer to the border than it looked like it would yesterday.

Wind are holding steady at 80 mph and the pressure has leveled off around 960mb. For comparison, Ike's pressure was 952mb just prior to landfall, and like Ike, Alex is considered to be a large storm.

Hurricane force winds extend 60 miles from the center. Tropical storm force winds extend 200 miles from the center.

The eye is shrinking and partially exposed, meaning some dry air has entered into the core of the storm. This should inhibit intensification for the next several hours, but intensification may resume this afternoon, and Alex is expected to be a category 2 hurricane at landfall.

There are no changes to the watches and warnings.

We are still expect heavy rainfall to be the biggest impact from this storm in Texas. We expect our heaviest rain to fall starting this afternoon thru Thursday.

Meteorologist Casey Curry - 6am
Alex continues to deepen and strengthen this morning. No changes to watches and warnings; still expecting landfall later tonight or early Thursday well south of Brownsville. Alex could still reach Category 2 just before landfall in northern Mexico. For us, we're still expecting periods of heavy rain the next couple of days with strong, gusty east winds. There could be coastal flooding because of elevated high tides.

Tuesday, June 29

Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller - 9:43pm
Alex is officially the first hurricane of the season with winds 75 mph. Forecast no longer calls for a stronger storm at landfall; Alex is not expected to strengthen beyond a Category 1.

Movement is now due west at 9 mph, but a northwest movement is expected to redevelop. Because of the westward shift, the forecast cone has been shifted south and no longer includes any of Texas. The landfall point is still about 100 mph south of Brownsville Wednesday evening, between 6 and 10pm.

No changes to the watches and warnings.

Christine Dobbyn - 9:58pm
The surf in Corpus Christi Bay has picked up tonight. Passerbys on the seawall were startled when a man jumped in for a swim. Police arrived at the scene a few minutes later and watched as the man swam back to shore. They warned him that he panicked everyone, especially with Alex on the way. They did not give him a ticket but a warning. He told Eyewitness News he thought it would be a good way to strenghten his swimming.

Many of the beaches are now closed. While they are not expecting a lot of damage in the Corpus Christi area, they are preparing for a lot of water.

At Padre Island National Seashore, staff members moved everything from ATV's to filing cabinets and computers. Some of the last campers had left the beaches in their RV's by mid day. Workers boarded up doors and windows at the visitors center and secured benches and picnic tables.

The director of the National Seashore hopes to reopen the park in time for the busy 4th of July holiday, but they won't know if that is possible until Alex passes through.

Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller - 6:53pm
National Hurricane Center is holding the winds at 70 mph for now. Hurricane Hunters are currently flying the storm. Given what I've been seeing on the satellite, I wouldn't be surprised if they upgrade the storm for the 10 pm update.

But that doesn't change the outcome: landfall in northern Mexico. Rainfall still the primary problem.

Wayne Dolcefino - 3:45pm
First squalls hitting South Padre

Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller - 3:43pm
No changes to the storm intensity: winds holding at 70 mph.

Alex is moving NW at 13 mph. Landfall still looks like it will be Wednesday evening before midnight, south of Brownsville. It's still possible Alex could become a hurricane later tonight. The forecast calls for at least Cat 1 strength at landfall.

NEW: Most of Texas is now OUTSIDE of the forecast cone. However, there's been no changes to the tropical storm/hurricane warnings for coastal parts of the U.S.

Rainfall is still the primary threat both in south Texas and around here.

Wayne Dolcefino - 2:29pm
We are in the valley at Harlingen. Since Raymondville, we've been seeing houses boarding up. Signs on the highway are flashing reminders to fill up gas tanks. After a big storm gas is a precious commodity.

Brief rain. Flooding will be the biggest problem as Alex gets closer. Rain clouds down south.

There is no mandatory evacuation in South Padre. The beach is closing at 5pm. At the current track they think Alex will hit the coast in a rural area south of border.

Ted Oberg - 12:41pm
We spent the morning offshore in Louisiana. The National Guard was trying to raise sand levees to fight potentially oily storm surge by dropping massive sandbags by helicopter. Water is higher, waves are rougher, but wind is not too bad.

On the way back, we passed some smaller work boats that appeared to be coming in from work due to deteriorating conditions. We'll check that out next and have answers at 4pm.

Wayne Dolcefino - 12:01pm
South of Corpus Christi heading to South Padre, I'm remembering the last hurricane I chased to northern Mexico. Hurricane Emily roared ashore five years ago. We were trapped on the highway near San Fernando 90 miles south of the border. The wind was so strong it blew an 18-wheeler on its side right in front of me. [ WATCH THE VIDEO FROM THAT 2005 REPORT ]

The weather in south Texas is good today. That won't last long.

Christine Dobbyn - 11:37am
We visited an empty beach at Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi. Officials are closing the park at 5pm today (June 29) in anticipation of high tides from Alex.

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