New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) — BP’s efforts to contain the largest oil spill in U.S. history are being disrupted by towering waves reaching up to 12 feet in height, company officials said.

Even though Hurricane Alex — which was upgraded from tropical storm status late Tuesday night — is headed away from the area affected by the oil spill, its winds and the waves the storm is producing are forcing BP officials to send oil skimming ships back to shore, from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

High tide and rough sea conditions are also restricting onshore personnel clean-up duties Wednesday morning, according to Charles Taplin, a spokesman at the Unified Command Joint Information Center in Houma, Louisiana.

CNN hurricane tracker — get the latest updates on Alex’s projected path, plus satellite and radar data

Also under consideration is whether to continue the use of aerial dispersants while the storm is affecting the region, Taplin said.

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