Texans, Oil Spill Crews Prepare as Alex Strengthens

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Just two years after Hurricane Dolly left more than $1 billion in damage in Texas -- a larger and possibly stronger Hurricane Alex is headed in the same path.

The National Hurricane Center upgraded tropical storm Alex to a Category 1 hurricane, Wednesday. The storm's 80-mph winds are on a collision course with southern Texas and Mexico.

"After Dolly nobody wants to take a chance," one Texas resident said while buying supplies.

"We do what we can today and leave the rest to mother nature," another added.

Click play for an update on the path of Hurricane Alex with AccuWeather.com meteorologist Kate Bilo, following Dale Hurd's report.

Forecasters have predicted Alex will make landfall by Wednesday evening or early Thursday, bringing strong winds and rain.

"They could see anywhere from 8 to 10 inches of rain in the southern part of Texas," said chief meteorologist Tim Heller of station KTRK in Houston.

Alex is the first June Atlantic hurricane since 1995.

National Guard troops have already arrived on South Padre Island, Texas, where the surf is up, most of the tourists are gone and businesses are suffering leading into the July 4 weekend.

"Most of the island is evacuated by now," said business owner Max Cantu. "And it definitely hurts for at least about a week."

First responders are preparing to find and rescue those residents who refuse to leave.

Perhaps the most menacing thing about Alex is not its strength, but its size. The storm swelled to 300 miles across, launching 12 foot waves toward the Gulf oil slick hundreds of miles to the east.

But there is also good news -- Alex is not expected to make a direct hit on the spill.

Three oil rigs and 28 platforms have been evacuated, but alex is projected to stay far away from BP's ruptured well and the oil spill zone.

Still, the storm is producing bigger waves, tossing around some of the oil-soaking booms and pushing more oil onto Gulf Coast beaches.

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A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at Facebook.com/DaleHurdNews.