Tropical Storm Alex bears down on the Yucatan; extreme heat for Africa and Russia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:12 PM GMT on June 26, 2010

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The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season of 2010 is here. Tropical Storm Alex formed last might from an African tropical wave that plowed through the Caribbean this week. Alex's formation location is a typical one for June tropical storms, and the formation date of June 25 is also a fairly typical date for the first storm of the season to form (we average about one June named storm every two years in the Atlantic.) Heavy rainfall will ramp up through the day in Honduras, Belize, and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, as Alex continues to intensify, and flooding from these heavy rains will be the main concern from Alex today and Sunday. Satellite loops show that Alex's heavy thunderstorm are growing in intensity and areal coverage at a respectable pace. There is an upper-level high pressure system a few hundred miles west of Alex, and the clockwise flow air around this high is bringing upper-level winds out of the northwest of about 10 knots over the storm, contributing to the 10 knots of wind shear observed in this morning's wind shear analysis from the University of Wisconsin's CIMSS group. Sea Surface Temperatures are very warm, 29 - 30°C, and dry air is not a problem for Alex. We currently don't have a Hurricane Hunter aircraft in the storm, so we will have to wait until 2pm this afternoon to get an updated estimate of Alex's surface winds. The latest satellite estimates of Alex's winds at 8am EDT put the storm's strongest winds at 40 mph.


Figure 1. Satellite image of the tropics at 9am EDT Saturday 6/26/10. Image credit: GOES Science Project.

Forecast for Alex
As I discussed in last night's post, an examination of the nineteen tropical cyclones that have formed in the Western Caribbean and hit the Yucatan Peninsula over the past twenty years reveals that 8 went on to make a second Gulf Coast landfall in Mexico, 5 hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, and 6 died after hitting the Yucatan. The ones that died all took a more southerly path across the Yucatan, spending more time over land than Alex will. Alex is large enough and moving far enough north across the Yucatan that passage over the peninsula will not kill it. So, will Alex follow the path climatology says is more likely, and make a second landfall along the Mexican Gulf Coast?


Figure 2. Forecast swath of tropical storm force winds (34 - 63 knots, green colors) and hurricane force winds (yellow and orange colors) as predicted by this morning's 2am EDT run of the HWRF model. Image credit: Morris Bender, NOAA GFDL team.

The key question remains how Alex will react to the trough of low pressure expected to swing down over the Eastern U.S. on Monday. Some of yesterday's model runs predicted that this trough would be strong enough to pull Alex northwards through the oil slick region into the northern Gulf of Mexico coast. However, the models that were predicting this (the GFS, GFDL, and HWRF models) are all backing off on that prediction. It now appears likely that Alex will cross the Yucatan, emerge into the Gulf of Mexico, then slow down as the trough to its north weakens the steering currents in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday. By Tuesday, the influence of the trough will wane, high pressure will build in, and Alex will resume a west-northwest, or possibly a due west or west-southwest motion, towards the Texas/Mexico border region. Based on the current trends in the models, Alex's tropical storm force winds are likely to stay well south of the oil slick region (Figure 2.) I put the odds of Alex bringing tropical storm-force winds to the oil slick region at 10%. The most significant impact Alex will likely have on the oil slick region is to bring 2 - 4 foot swells that may wash oil over some of the containment booms. These swells will reach the oil slick region on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Continued intensification of Alex is likely today, up until landfall. It is a good thing the storm waited until last night to get organized; had it formed a day earlier, it could have easily been a hurricane in the Western Caribbean today. Once Alex emerges back into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, it will likely take the storm at least 24 hours to get re-organized, particularly since the total ocean heat content is low for the 100-mile-wide stretch of water on the west side of the Yucatan Peninsula. Once Alex moves more than 100 miles from the Yucatan, total heat content of the ocean increases substantially, and Alex will have the opportunity to intensify significantly. Steering currents will be weak in the Gulf next week, and it appears that Alex will have time to intensify into a hurricane before making its second landfall along the South Texas/northern Mexico coast. Wind shear is expected to be light, and dry air not a significant impediment. Most of the models are calling for landfall on Wednesday, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this delayed until Thursday. I give Alex a 60% chance of becoming a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico next week.

Elsewhere in the tropics
A tropical wave (Invest 94L) is a few hundred miles northeast of the northernmost Lesser Antilles Islands. This wave is producing a modest amount of heavy thunderstorm activity, and is passing beneath a trough of low pressure that is generating 30 - 40 knots of wind shear, and is not a threat to develop today. However, by Monday, the storm will be in a region of much lower wind shear, and NHC is giving the storm a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Monday morning. None of the models currently develop 94L, but Bermuda should keep and eye on this system, as it will pass very close to the island on Tuesday.

Extreme heat wave in Africa and Asia continues to set all-time high temperature records
A withering heat wave of unprecedented intensity and areal covered continues to smash all-time high temperatures Asia and Africa. As I reported earlier this week, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Chad, Niger, Pakistan, and Myanmar have all set new records for their hottest temperatures of all time over the past six weeks. The remarkable heat continued over Africa and Asia late this week. The Asian portion of Russia recorded its highest temperate in history yesterday, when the mercury hit 42.3°C (108.1°F) at Belogorsk, near the Amur River border with China. The previous record was 41.7°C (107.1°F) at nearby Aksha on July 21, 2004. (The record for European Russia is 43.8°C--110.8°F--set on August 6, 1940, at Alexandrov Gaj near the border with Kazakhstan.) Also, on Thursday, Sudan recorded its hottest temperature in its history when the mercury rose to 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Dongola. The previous record was 49.5°C (121.1°F) set in July 1987 in Aba Hamed.

We've now had eight countries in Asia and Africa, plus the Asian portion of Russia, that have beaten their all-time hottest temperature record during the past two months. This includes Asia's hottest temperature of all-time, the astonishing 53.5°C (128.3°F) mark set on May 26 in Pakistan. All of these records are unofficial, and will need to be certified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). According to Chris Burt, author of Extreme Weather, the only year which can compare is 2003, when six countries (the UK, France, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein) all broke their all-time heat records during that year's notorious summer heat wave. Fortunately, the residents of the countries affected by this summer's heat wave in Asia and Africa are more adapted to extreme high temperatures, and we are not seeing the kind of death tolls experienced during the 2003 European heat wave (30,000 killed.) This week's heat wave in Africa and the Middle East is partially a consequence of the fact that Earth has now seen three straight months with its warmest temperatures on record, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. It will be interesting to see if the demise of El Niño in May will keep June from becoming the globe's fourth straight warmest month on record.

Wind and ocean current forecast for the BP oil disaster
East to southeast winds of 5 - 15 knots will blow in the northern Gulf of Mexico today through Wednesday, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. The resulting weak ocean currents should push the oil to the west and northwest onto portions of the Louisiana and Alabama coasts, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana. I would expect Mississippi to have its most serious threat of oil yet early next week as these winds continue. The long range outlook shows a continuation of east to southeast winds along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast.

Resources for the BP oil disaster
Map of oil spill location from the NOAA Satellite Services Division
My post, What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
NOAA's interactive mapping tool to overlay wind and ocean current forecasts, oil locations, etc.
Gulf Oil Blog from the UGA Department of Marine Sciences
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the University of Miami

Wunderground's severe weather expert Dr. Rob Carver will likely be posting at least one update on Alex this weekend. My next update will be Sunday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Reed...Please knock off of "Poor Me" I am the "Wishcaster". It is getting very tedious.
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Quoting MississippiBoy:
will Alex be tugged on any if a trough comes through?I heard there was one coming.or I thought I heard of one comeing.

The tugging and the substance to be tugged, itself, are in question here. How Alex responds to the OHC on the other side of the Yucatan is important, too. And not set in stone.

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Quoting Chicklit:

I'm being sensitive to the people over in NOLA who have had it up to their eyeballs in bs and misery.
To forecast Alex coming anywhere near them right now is insensitive and irresponsible.
Goodnight.


No one ever said anything about NOLA, so check your battery Agnes.
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3246. Seastep
Quoting CaneAddict:


Well my forecast is based on a split between the two camps of models..In the short term I forecast it to follow the NHC track but I personally anticipate a northern track in the long term and not just westward into Mexico. I see the trough influencing Alex alot more then the NHC believes or the models are picking up on. JMO


Models are, and have been, showing it.

Still outlier overall, though.
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There are still some respected bloggers here---but when I know more than many of you its downright scary.
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Personally, I think that Alex has not gained enough latitude to feel the effects of the trough. This is going to be a mexico event. NHC are the experts for a reason!
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Quoting Chicklit:

I was asking for a rationale for posting a hurricane headed toward Louisiana right now while we have a Tropical Storm entering the Gulf.


Oh ok..well it's a misunderstanding then. Her point was to show how much the track changed.
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3241. xcool
<<<< slidell LA HERE.
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Quoting BaltOCane:


I thought you were one of the nicest people on here till you went and did that. Not to say that has anything to do with your forecasting ability.... just saying, terrible dissapointing

I'm being sensitive to the people over in NOLA who have had it up to their eyeballs in bs and misery.
To forecast Alex coming anywhere near them right now is insensitive and irresponsible.
Goodnight.
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Quoting LouisianaWoman:
I've answered you unless you missed it. The point is tracks change this far out, as clearly shown with Rita. It was suppose to be a south Texas/Mexico hit and we all know how that went. Too many things are playing big factors in where Alex will land. At 5 days out the cone of uncertainty is huge. As a person who thought they were "safe" during Rita, I kindly found my yard covered in 7 feet of water. Point is, nothing is set in stone until Alex is making his move onto land for good.


You are safe.
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Quoting MississippiBoy:
will Alex be tugged on any if a trough comes through?I heard there was one coming.or I thought I heard of one comeing.
Absolutely. There is a trough over by the central plains, this will have a major affect on the steering of Alex down the road.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
3217: Could have Should have said that a bit nicer...
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3236. xcool
more models trend come.
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Impressive spin on 94L, animate & rock
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3174. "Northcasters" -- love it.
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I've been saying this the whole day, about how the models were initializing the trough too weak, but instead, I got called a wishcaster, northcaster.. Heck I was even putting maps out proving my point. Sorry, but that is not wishcasting. I was never leading this storm into the oil, that would be a catastrophe, however it will happen with another storm. I'm holding on strong to a Mexico/Texas borderline landfall until I see more sophisticated models move north like the EURO and HWRF.
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3211-3218 Thanks:) No problem, Feel free to bookmark my website. It's not updated right this minute but tomorrow I plan to start making daily updates.
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I've answered you unless you missed it. The point is tracks change this far out, as clearly shown with Rita. It was suppose to be a south Texas/Mexico hit and we all know how that went. Too many things are playing big factors in where Alex will land. At 5 days out the cone of uncertainty is huge. As a person who thought they were "safe" during Rita, I kindly found my yard covered in 7 feet of water. Point is, nothing is set in stone until Alex is making his move onto land for good.
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3230. xcool
HEY JFV
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Quoting Chicklit:
So...LA Woman. Waiting for your answer.
What is the point of posting Rita right now?
Did I miss something here?


I thought you were one of the nicest people on here till you went and did that. Not to say that has anything to do with your forecasting ability.... just saying, terrible dissapointing
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Quoting CaneAddict:


You need to go to bed and stop being pissy towards everyone.

I was asking for a rationale for posting a hurricane headed toward Louisiana right now while we have a Tropical Storm entering the Gulf.
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will Alex be tugged on any if a trough comes through?I heard there was one coming.or I thought I heard of one comeing.
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Quoting hunkerdown:
They also flew over Cuban land during Hurricane Georges. Both times, however, it was only for position fixes/radar presentation as they cannot drop the dropsondes over land. Also, NOAA is the only federal agency with hurricane tracking capabilities that is authorized by Cuba to fly in its airspace.
I didn't know that. Thanks.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
every university can build a car to cross north america on solar power using only students but we still need gas because the car and oil companies tell us!!
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alternate water vapor
Link
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


OK. I thought they didn't. Would also depend on Mexico's permission to---to fly over their land.

All Caribbean countries---even Cuba--allow us to fly the hurricane hunters over their territorial waters. Except Venezuela denied permission once.


Hmmmm. Here is an web post about permission given for the Air Force to fly over Cuba itself. I wasn't aware they allowed Air Force planes to fly over Cuban soil!

Link
They also flew over Cuban land during Hurricane Georges. Both times, however, it was only for position fixes/radar presentation as they cannot drop the dropsondes over land. Also, NOAA is the only federal agency with hurricane tracking capabilities that is authorized by Cuba to fly in its airspace.
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check out that spin over Arizona near Phoniex on water vapor
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3220. xcool
Euro 1;00am need hurry uppp
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Alex: Five day forecast
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CaneAddict,
Excellent job!!
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Quoting Chicklit:
So...LA Woman. Waiting for your answer.
What is the point of posting Rita right now?
Did I miss something here?


You need to go to bed and stop being pissy towards everyone.
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This is an idea of what the trough is looking like right now. The drawing isn't terribly accurate but you can get a clue of what is happening. This is also my first time using Goes-15, looks really good.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Chicklit:
So...LA Woman. Waiting for your answer.
What is the point of posting Rita right now?
Did I miss something here?


a page back... good job tho; you really got her! sarcasm flag UP
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This blog existed before earth day 2005?
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3213. xcool


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US Water Vapor
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3211. xcool
CaneAddict keep up good work.
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3210. drj27
Link
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Quoting CaneAddict:




Something like this is what i'm forecasting.

Even further east than the GFS wow... do you really think it has a chance to never enter the gulf given it's current trajectory though? I think you could slim that down on the left significantly.
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Quoting xcool:
CaneAddict a+ /RitaEvac ;)


Huh?
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3206. xcool
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Quoting SunnyDaysFla:
You all google "do hurricane hunters fly over land." NOAA site said rarely because hurricanes spawn tornadoes over land. An exception, we overflew Cuba with their permission to get a fix on the eye of Hurricane Georges.

Okay. Yeah, nadoes, too.
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So...LA Woman. Waiting for your answer.
What is the point of posting Rita right now?
Did I miss something here?
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Quoting sammywammybamy:


INSTEAD OF OIL, HOW ABOUT WE EXPLORE CLEAN ENERGY AND SAVE OUR PLANET.


There's a reason transportation is predominately based on hydrocarbons, brah.

It's called economics.

Motor gasoline doesn't grow on trees either - you can't wish we all get Mr. Fushion's on our cars to where we can use beer cans and banana peels to drive...
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3201. 7544
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Anybody have the link to a water vapor image of the U.S? Mine isn't working.



java seems to be down right now none are animating
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Got some inside info, expect 10AM track and models farther North. Im out


um....ok. ??....could have given a little more info.
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
You all google "do hurricane hunters fly over land." NOAA site said rarely because hurricanes spawn tornadoes over land. An exception, we overflew Cuba with their permission to get a fix on the eye of Hurricane Georges.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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