Hurricane Irene is the first hurricane of 2011 season. Irene is heading for Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and maybe Florida, say forecasters.
Hurricane Richard did no major damage to Belize as it weakened into a tropical storm. It is moving into southeastern Mexico.
Hurricane Julia became a Category 4 storm Wednesday. Tropical storm Karl is expected to reach hurricane status by the time it makes landfall in Mexico Saturday morning. Igor could brush Bermuda by Sunday.
With some 1,200 offshore oil rigs operating today, oil spills are still relatively rare. But experts warn that safety procedures and cleanup methods have not kept pace with drilling at ever-deeper depths.
BP has failed to manually shut the blowout preventer, and it could take three months to drill a relief well. Before then, BP will try to put a giant hood over the leaking wellhead, or perhaps even install a second preventer. But no short-term options have a proven track record to stop an oil spill.