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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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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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
No I don't think it was me who said continues westward motion, that was probably Hurricanes101.

Still a lot of uncertainty remains on where Alex will go once it re-emerges in the GOM as I don't know how strong and how far north or south it will emerge. I can say accurately that the trough over by the plains is rather impressive and is much more southerly than what I expected. Once this gets to the GOM it will likely affect Alex by forcing it to move more northerly instead of just due west motion. IMO, Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana should watch Alex.


Thanks! I looked at the water vapor imagery, and the trough is impressive - yet the southern portion of the trough does not look as pronounced. Also, it seems as though Alex is moving faster than the trough. Who knows?
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Quoting txsweetpea:



Thanks Cane Addict... That is such a "little ray of sunshine".Ha....I personally hope you are wrong ..but ....I am sure you are not.


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
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Quoting LouisianaWoman:
Man, I'm having Rita flashbacks. How's this for a point of reference...





So, do you think if trough picks up Alex it could steer Alex dramatically to the North like Rita?
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3195. ATL
Quoting RitaEvac:
Got some inside info, expect 10AM track and models farther North. Im out


Got friends in high places? Lol...I agree though as long as the GFS holds the line.
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Quoting GetReal:


Let me chisel that promise in stone... Thanks...


Good. I cannot believe this bs.
Sorry, just annoys me.
Alex will be lucky to get to Texas that far south.
Puhleese.
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3193. xcool
CaneAddict a+ /RitaEvac ;)
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Point of my post? Initial forecast was a South Texas/Mexico storm, then came the model shifts...slowly but surely landing it at the TX/LA line. My point is that this far out, nothing is certain.
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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
I highly doubt that is factual. Cuba doesn't seem like the place that would allow for HH to fly over.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting CaneAddict:



Something like this is what i'm forecasting.


Agreed. I think the trough will erode the ridge more than people or models may think. Just my two cents
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Got some inside info, expect 10AM track and models farther North. Im out
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Quoting tennisgirl08:


Hey Miami! didn't you just say on your blog that Alex would continue to move West. Or did you just mean in the short term.

How far north could Alex go, if they keep shifting northward? Just wondering...
No I don't think it was me who said continues westward motion, that was probably Hurricanes101.

Still a lot of uncertainty remains on where Alex will go once it re-emerges in the GOM as I don't know how strong and how far north or south it will emerge. I can say accurately that the trough over by the plains is rather impressive and is much more southerly than what I expected. Once this gets to the GOM it will likely affect Alex by forcing it to move more northerly instead of just due west motion. IMO, Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana should watch Alex.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
LA Woman, Rita has nothing to do with Alex.
What is the point of your post?
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


That puzzles me. How can a trough steer Alex to the north without southwest winds on the east side of the trough affecting Alex? If the anticyclone over Alex is strong enough to deflect the winds from the trough, then how can the trough's winds steer Alex if they are deflected? Drakoen or RyanFSU could explain it.


A standard upper trough in the mid-latitude westerlies features upper-divergence on its east side and upper-convergence on its west side. Its upper divergence can weaken the low-to-mid-level ridge to the north for a weakness, and this low-to-mid-level ridge is what is steering Alex now.

If Alex doesn't fall into the weakness, then the ridge will restrengthen in the western upper convergent side of the upper trough, bending the track of Alex back west.

The anticyclone over Alex can weaken the upper trough if the upper trough gets close enough to its anticyclone, though. From the vibe I get here, it sounds like the upper trough is well to the north over the US mainland, and may not get much influence from Alex's anticyclone.
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Quoting xcool:
CaneAddict /wow nice images


Thanks..I don't produce my own forecast tracks too often because it takes alot of concentration and work to make it look good and professional. I use to make them for every advisory on my website..but now I do them when I feel like it and post them along with my blog updates. I plan of updating my site daily starting tomorrow again.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
The hurricane hunters never fly into storms over land.

They do in the US...

But the application is limited. SFMR is all about the surface of the water, and not shallow water. So flight level winds and dropsonde info is all there is to be had. (and the onboard radar)

They have flown over land, for example, to drop dropsondes near the mobile university towers for verification purposes and/or confirmation of wind speed reduction with lower altitude theory. (power law)
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Anybody have the link to a water vapor image of the U.S? Mine isn't working.


Use the older Java loop, not the flash.
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Man, I'm having Rita flashbacks. How's this for a point of reference...



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Here's mine lol

536. ElConando 3:18 PM EDT on September 07, 2009
I shall be known soon.
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Quoting CaneAddict:




Something like this is what i'm forecasting.



Thanks Cane Addict... That is such a "little ray of sunshine".Ha....I personally hope you are wrong ..but ....I am sure you are not.
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Anybody have the link to a water vapor image of the U.S? Mine isn't working.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194


Not calling you northcasters drama queens, but hello.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
At the moment it is unlikely that it will, but there is still a slim chance based on how strong this incoming trough will be. Based on water vapor this trough is much stronger than what models are seeing and I wouldn't be surprised to see models to continue to shift northward. Still too early to know for sure, but that's my current thinking.
Hey Miami! didn't you just say on your blog that Alex would continue to move West. Or did you just mean in the short term.

How far north could Alex go, if they keep shifting northward? Just wondering...
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3172. ATL
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


That puzzles me. How can a trough steer Alex to the north without southwest winds on the east side of the trough affecting Alex? If the anticyclone over Alex is strong enough to deflect the winds from the trough, then how can the trough's winds steer Alex if they are deflected? Drakoen or RyanFSU could explain it.


I assume both the anticyclone and storm itself are affected by the trough so that they basically move in tandem.
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Im out
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3170. Seastep
sammywammywhatever - please enlighten me on the technology that can even come remotely close to replacing oil.

Everyone knows I'm a huge nuclear fan. Are you? If not, please expound on your alternatives.
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3168. ATL
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Unless they are over U.S land. I remember hearing a plane flying really low during Katrina, I guess it was the HH. But either way, yes they fly over US land.

I guess they don't descend as low as they do in the ATL...being tossed around by extreme turbulence in proximity to land/buildings is bad news.
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Quoting Chicklit:
Alex is way south; going nowhere near the spill.
At the moment it is unlikely that it will, but there is still a slim chance based on how strong this incoming trough will be. Based on water vapor this trough is much stronger than what models are seeing and I wouldn't be surprised to see models to continue to shift northward. Still too early to know for sure, but that's my current thinking.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
3166. Torgen
Quoting BaltOCane:


this is bad too...

Link

No bueno.


Wow, after looking at Alex, my attention was caught by that huge mess slinging itself across the Atlantic towards the UK. That's humongous! Is that normal?
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3165. xcool
CaneAddict /wow nice images
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Quoting BaltOCane:


Thanks, buuuuuuuuuuddy (a la Pauly Shore)

oooo... sure to get me banned. But the kids have no idea who he is!!!

this is bad too...

Link

No bueno.



No that looks UNREAL!!
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3162. GetReal
Quoting Chicklit:
Alex is way south; going nowhere near the spill.


Let me chisel that promise in stone... Thanks...

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Quoting winter123:
Huge blowup of white in the last frames. I seriously think it's intensifying over land, or at least holding at 60.


Agree there's a blow-up, but looking at details, its slighlty more blobbed than circular like it was an hour ago. I personally still think downgrade to 50 mph winds by 2 AM advisory.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Interesting (I know btw I use the word interesting a lot, can't help it)...

Did Dvorak numbers also support a 65-kt 'cane at landfall?


Not sure, been out all night. Just peeked at the pressure obs to see where Alex may go, noticed the super low pressures.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Unless they are over U.S land. I remember hearing a plane flying really low during Katrina, I guess it was the HH. But either way, yes they fly over US land.


it was... they flew during landfall
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
The hurricane hunters never fly into storms over land.
Unless they are over U.S land. I remember hearing a plane flying really low during Katrina, I guess it was the HH. But either way, yes they fly over US land.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting P451:


The Trof that is pushing into the Gulf... the models are unsure as to how far south and how strong it would be.

Many models this AM showed Alex stalling and meandering a bit after it exited the YUC. This was in response to the Trof. Then all models resumed a WNW to West track.

However, if the storm were to be a bit further north when it exited the YUC - AND - the Trof a bit deeper and further south at the same time ----- MAYBE the system would get picked up and pulled into the central gulf coast.

This seems more and more unlikely now.

Just my opinion there however. It's something to watch.

Have a good night all.




Something like this is what i'm forecasting.
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3156. Seastep
Quoting sammywammybamy:


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


All for it. Until that time...
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Quoting CyberStorm:
anyone have a good link to the new gfs


GFS
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3154. bjdsrq
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


He owned the stock directly, not in a fund. And ruling in favor of a company he owned stock directly in and stood to benefit from is unethical.


You missed my point. Don't care how he owns oil stock. My point is banning all US offshore drilling hurts a lot of people in the US. Hundreds of thousands more umemployed, more destruction to retirement nest eggs, and $7/gal gasoline. Think we can tolerate that on top of 10% unemployment and $11T in debt? I don't.

Industry reforms yes, but an all out offshore drilling ban is ignorant and economically suicidal. Thousands of GOM offshore wells have produced w/o incident and most are not deep water wells.

You youngsters probably won't remember 3-mile Island in the late 1970s. One small scare with a nuclear plant, and Fed govt reacted in a similar short sighted way with a ban. The result was zero new nuke plants built in the US ever since (30+ years.) Meanwhile, every other major country in the world has been racing ahead with new nuke power technology roll outs leaving us decades behind and in the dust. Thus, the US is still dependent on coal for energy just like 150 years ago. Its an embarrasing shame.
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Quoting Patrap:










Exxon oil spill: Cordova, Alaska

Memories of Valdez spill just below the surface for town's residents


and to think that after Obama and Salazar went to bat for BP to allow drilling between April and July of 2009, they deliberately downplayed the sheer size and impact that this spill has had and will have since April 21st of this year and continue to drag their feet on doing anything meaningful, a nearly two month delay is incomprehensible to me... UNBELIEVABLE and this will be DEVASTING to residents of the Gulf and our Nation for many years to come.
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


post 3111 look at the pressures.


Interesting (I know btw I use the word interesting a lot, can't help it)...

Did Dvorak numbers also support a 65-kt 'cane at landfall?
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3150. xcool
TampaSpin DID I HELP YOU ?
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Alex is way south; going nowhere near the spill.
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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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