Published: Jul 06, 2010 3:42 AM EDT
Updated: Jul 06, 2010 12:43 AM EDT

PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (AP) - Across a wide stretch of the Gulf of Mexico, efforts to limit the damage from the region's worst-ever oil spill have been essentially landlocked for more than a week.
      
Offshore oil skimming along the coasts of Alabama, Florida and Mississippi came to a stop early last week because of choppy seas brewed up by Hurricane Alex.
      
Now they're stymied by a succession of smaller storms that could last well into this week. Workers are forced to fight the oil with containment boom and cleanups after it has already reached the shore.
      
Officials have plans for the worst-case scenario: a hurricane barreling up the Gulf toward the spill site. But the less-dramatic weather conditions that have brought skimming to a halt have been met with a more makeshift response.
      
And the first tar balls are being reported in Texas. They were spotted yesterday on the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island. Crews have begun picking them up. A state official says the tar balls will be cleaned up quickly, and BP will be billed.