Cleanup crews in the Gulf of Mexico are closely watching a storm that should bypass the area of a massive oil spill, but could change course very quickly.
On Sunday, the National Hurricane Center in the U.S. downgraded Alex from a tropical storm to a depression, after it formed in the Caribbean on Saturday and battered Belize, northern Guatemala and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with heavy rain.
The centre says Alex will likely move south and avoid the area where a blasted-out oil rig has spewed millions of barrels of oil into the water. But it warns the storm will strengthen over the Gulf and could quickly veer east towards the spill.
If that happens, it could stop containment efforts for up to two weeks and delay the drilling of two relief wells – the best hope of stopping the spill.
On April 20, a Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP exploded, killing 11. Since then, it’s estimated tens of thousands of barrels of crude have been gushing into the Gulf each day, making it the worst environmental disaster in American history.