Video: Alex weakens, pours rain

  1. Closed captioning of: Alex weakens, pours rain

    >>> tomorrow alex hit land as a powerful category 2 hurricane with 105-mile-per-hour winds, the strongest june hurricane since 1966 . its winds are now down to about 50 miles an hour, but it continues to dump heavy rain on mexico as well as south and central texas . weather channel meteorologist jim cantore is joining us from south padre island , texas. jim, what is it like there now?

    >> reporter: isn't it nice of them to name is first storm of the season after you? obviously the dunes have held up pretty well. in a way, it's actually helped a little bit hold the sand, but when you're thinking about putting down a beach towel and hitting the beach, it's maybe not that good. we had 5 1/2 inches of rain. things are up and running pretty well. let's find out just how good. i want to bring in mayor bob pinkerton, this is quite a collection of seaweed we have here, what are you going to do with all of this before the fourth of july weekend?

    >> we're going to use it to shore up our dunes.

    >> you come and pick out the big piece of trash and take like a payloader and create new dunes?

    >> we don't create new dunes, we just put them on the dune structure and it helps to stabilize it and to grow it.

    >> so by the time the people get here for the holiday weekend, we're going to have pretty nice beaches?

    >> this should be cleaned by tomorrow afternoon. we had a lot of rain, we're flat as a pancake , but yet we drain pretty quickly. we drained all of the five plus inches we got.

    >> that's two months of rain, isn't it?

    >> i think we did very well. we didn't have any crossover, washovers within the city limits , there were some far up north, i think we did pretty well t surge had me a little bit bothered or concerned, but it turned out it wasn't a problem.

    >> people called and said, hey, it's not too bad, i'm going to come for the holiday weekend. because you swell to 100,000 for the holiday weekend.

    >> on tuesday, i believe it was, i said that by thursday afternoon, friday we would be ready to go for fourth of july. we have got fireworks friday night, saturday nights and sunday night.

    >> congratulations, mr. mayor. thanks for being with us. again, alex , not too bad with alex as it moved in through here. but what's interesting about this storm is it unleashed a tremendous amount of moisture all the way to the gulf coast , from houston over through mobile into pensacola and so they're actually concerned because with a front coming down into the southeast, it's going to stall there, and there's going to be heavy showers and thunderstorms. so what will be very nice here for a weekend, because of the hurricane, is not going to be very nice to the north as that front stalls and kicks off some heavy showers and thunderstorms.

    >> absolutely keeping an eye out for tornadoes and flash floods . imagine how much fun your colleague alex wall and i had talking about this hurricane. jim cantore , good to see you. alex is still hampering the oil cleanup operations along the gulf coast . charles hadlock join us us from venice, louisiana. how about those cleanup boats, any of them heading out today?

    >> reporter: there are a few out there, but not many. you can see at the harbor here at the venice marina, that you would see any of them on a given day would be out harvesting shrimp, they're here because of the oil and they can't go out and collect the oil that's causing them problems this summer. it's a situation that's continuing here along the gulf coast , but the good news is, 50 miles out, at the drill site, the relief wells are still unscheduled, in fact they're ahead of schedule, they were not interrupted at all because of hurricane alex . alex ?

    >> what about the ability for bp and the cleanup crews to spray those chemical dispersants, anything like that, has that been disrupted because of all the winds? you would think so.

    >> the surface dispersants have been suspended, but they are releasing a huge amount of dispersant at the well site. that has continued and apparently, it's still working, apparently, according to the coast guard and bp, they continue to use it.

    >> okay, as long as it's still working, that's good news.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/1/2010 4:13:23 PM ET 2010-07-01T20:13:23

Hurricane Alex weakened to a tropical storm with 40 mph winds Thursday as it moved farther inland over northeastern Mexico, dumping heavy rains that flooded several areas.

Moreover, southern Texas was warned of twisters. "Isolated tornadoes are possible over portions of extreme southern Texas today," the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Rain from the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic season flooded about 80 percent of the port city of Matamoros, sent uprooted trees crashing down on parked cars and forced thousands to flee low-lying fishing villages.

Inland in the industrial city of Monterrey, flooding killed three people, washed away chunks of surrounding highways and turned dry desert beds into turbulent rivers.

Zoo animals including buffalo were dragged from their pens as floods swept through the city, and efforts to round them up were delayed by the storm conditions.

Floods sucked a 12-ton statue of Mexico's revered Virgin of Guadalupe off its perch on the bank of the city's normally dry Santa Catarina river.

"The damage is enormous, a river burst its banks and we have people trapped on the roofs of their houses," said Mayor Martin Zamarripa of the town of Hualahuises outside Monterrey.

In Matamoros, city official Saul Hernandez Bautista said at least 400 neighborhoods were flooded, some with 12 inches of water and at least 2,500 people were in shelters, mostly people evacuated from lowing lying regions outside the city.

Trees were uprooted and electrical posts were down. Hernandez said there were no known injuries or deaths in the Matamoros area but he did not know about the area farther south where the eye of the storm hit.

"The damages are incalculable. The city is practically under water," Hernandez said. "But the most important thing is that there was no loss of life. We took important and opportune measures to evacuate people."

To the west of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz said the storm had already dumped 16 inches of rain in some areas. He ordered all schools closed and appealed for people to stay home from all but essential jobs. Medina said at least 2,300 people had been evacuated.

Alex made landfall late Wednesday at Soto La Marina, Mexico. The storm ripped off roofs, flooded streets and forced thousands of people to flee coastal fishing villages in northern Mexico.

Alex was the first and strongest Category 2 hurricane to occur in June since 1966.

Texas spared, Mexico slammed
Alex largely spared Texas, which had prepared for a possible direct hit. While it spawned two tornadoes and caused 1,000 people to evacuated low-lying areas there, state officials reported no injuries or major damages.

Earlier, Alex whipped up high waves that frustrated oil-spill cleanup efforts on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico and delivered tar balls and globs of crude onto already soiled beaches.

The storm made landfall on a relatively unpopulated stretch of coast in Mexico's northern Tamaulipas state, about 110 miles south of Brownsville, Texas, and in Matamoros.

In Mexico, residents of coastal fishing villages fled inland on buses and in pickup trucks to the town of San Fernando as rain pummeled down and winds topped 110 mph. Hundreds of people filled a storm shelter in a town auditorium.

"We didn't bring anything but these clothes," said evacuee Carolina Sanchez, 21, motioning to two small plastic bags at her feet, as her 3-year-old sister Belen Sanchez Gonzalez clutched a purple and white stuffed toy poodle at the storm shelter.

Her father, a fisherman, was one of many coastal residents who stayed behind to keep watch on their homes and possessions.

Engineer Abel Ramirez, of San Fernando's Civil Protection and Fire Department, said seven fishing villages, with a combined population of about 5,000, were evacuated.

Alex spawned two tornadoes around Brownsville, including one that flipped over a trailer. Officials closed the causeway to South Padre Island, a popular vacation getaway off the Texas coast, and 9-foot waves were reported on the island's beach.

More than 1,000 homes were without power late Wednesday, with the biggest outage caused not by the storm but by a car that ran into a utility pole, American Electric Power spokesman Andy Heines said.

Families huddle in shelter
At least 100 families took shelter in a Brownsville high school.

Sergio Gonzales, 18, arrived with nine other family members after his father decided their house may not survive the flood.

Gonzales didn't agree with his dad. "I think it's just going to be a normal one," he said.

The main threat as Alex falls apart over land will be tornadoes, hurricane center meteorologist Chris Landsea said.

The storm was 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 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."

Flash floods also forced hundreds of evacuations in the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, but hurricane specialist Eric Blake said those rains were only indirectly related to Alex and possibly the residual effects of Hurricane Darby, which has dissipated in the Pacific.

Three people — a couple and their 5-year-old child — were killed when heavy rains and winds brought down a wall on their wooden house in Acapulco, state Civil Protection authorities said.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Map: Hurricane tracker

Photos: Hurricane Alex

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  1. The Santa Catarina River in Monterrey, Mexico, is swollen with rain from Alex on Thursday, July 1. (Obed Campos Guzman / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Plywood is removed from a business on South Padre Island, Texas, on Thursday.. (Larry W. Smith / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A satellite-based illustration shows Hurricane Alex as it closes in near the Mexico-Texas border on Wednesday. (NOAA / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Residents are evacuated before the arrival of Hurricane Alex in San Fernando, Mexico. Streets were flooded in the town. (Str / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Mexican marines look for stranded residents as Hurricane Alex approaches near the border city of Matamoros on Wednesday. (Tomas Bravo / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A man drives his car through a flooded street in Matamoros on Wednesday. (Tomas Bravo / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Dennis Barrett paddles down Padre Boulevard in his kayak in flooding caused by Hurricane Alex in South Padre Island, Texas. (Larry W. Smith / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Decontamination equipment sits behind an oil-coated barrier under assault from high surf high on Fourchon Beach in Port Fourchon, La. The workers had been evacuated. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Workers board up a window on South Padre Island, Texas, on Wednesday. (Larry W. Smith / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Workers remove the roof of a beach shelter at Miramar beach in Tampico on Wednesday. (Luis Lopez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Donavon Bruce, a skimming boat worker, walks past idle boats after they were forced to port because of Hurricane Alex in Port Fourchon, La. Boat captains hope to get back to work in the next day or two, soaking up what they can from the Deepwater Horizon spill. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Fishermen prepare their boats before the arrival of Hurricane Alex in La Carbonera, Mexico. (Eduardo Verdugo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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