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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core not weakening at all over belize, amazing..

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2898. IKE
.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
000
WTNT41 KNHC 270251
TCDAT1
TROPICAL STORM ALEX DISCUSSION NUMBER 6
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL012010
1000 PM CDT SAT JUN 26 2010

SURFACE OBSERVATIONS AND RADAR IMAGERY FROM BELIZE INDICATE THAT THE
CENTER OF ALEX MOVED INLAND IN THE PAST COUPLE OF HOURS JUST TO THE
NORTH OF BELIZE CITY...WHERE RECENT OBSERVATIONS SERVE AS THE BASIS
FOR THE CENTRAL PRESSURE OF 997 MB FOR THIS ADVISORY. WHILE DEEP
CONVECTION HAS GENERALLY DECREASED OVER THE PAST FEW HOURS...A
RECENT BURST DEVELOPED NEAR THE CENTER AS IT MOVED INLAND. GIVEN
THIS...THE INITIAL INTENSITY IS LOWERED ONLY TO 50 KT...IN
AGREEMENT WITH DVORAK CI ESTIMATES FROM TAFB AND SAB AT 0000 UTC.
NOW THAT THE CENTER IS INLAND...WEAKENING SHOULD OCCUR OVERNIGHT
AND EARLY SUNDAY AS ALEX MOVES ACROSS THE YUCATAN PENINSULA. AFTER
ALEX MOVES INTO THE SOUTHERN GULF OF MEXICO...CONDITIONS APPEAR
FAVORABLE FOR STRENGTHENING OVER WARM WATERS AND IN A LOW SHEAR
ENVIRONMENT. THE OFFICIAL INTENSITY FORECAST IS CLOSE TO THE ICON
INTENSITY CONSENSUS THROUGH THE PERIOD.

THE INITIAL MOTION ESTIMATE IS 290/10...A LITTLE TO THE RIGHT OF THE
PREVIOUS FORECAST. MOST OF THE TRACK MODEL GUIDANCE SHOWS A
SUBTROPICAL RIDGE PERSISTING ACROSS THE NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO...
AND THESE MODELS TAKE ALEX ON A WEST OR WEST-NORTHWEST TRACK OVER
THE SOUTHERN GULF AND INTO MEXICO IN 3 OR 4 DAYS. HOWEVER...THE
LATEST RUNS OF THE GFDL AND GFS TAKE ALEX FARTHER NORTH LATE IN THE
PERIOD...BUT THIS APPEARS TO BE DUE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF SPURIOUS
VORTICITY MAXIMA IN BOTH MODELS THAT ERODE THE RIDGE NORTH OF ALEX.
GIVEN THEIR LACK OF CONTINUITY...THE GFS AND GFDL SOLUTIONS ARE
CONSIDERED OUTLIERS. THE NEW OFFICIAL FORECAST IS ADJUSTED ONLY A
LITTLE TO THE RIGHT OF THE PREVIOUS PACKAGE DUE TO THE INITIAL
POSITION AND MOTION...AND IS IN GOOD AGREEMENT WITH A BLEND OF THE
DYNAMICAL MODELS EXCLUDING THE GFDL AND GFS.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 27/0300Z 17.7N 88.4W 50 KT
12HR VT 27/1200Z 18.5N 89.9W 30 KT...INLAND
24HR VT 28/0000Z 19.6N 91.5W 35 KT...OVER WATER
36HR VT 28/1200Z 20.4N 92.6W 45 KT
48HR VT 29/0000Z 21.0N 93.6W 55 KT
72HR VT 30/0000Z 22.0N 96.0W 70 KT
96HR VT 01/0000Z 23.0N 99.0W 55 KT...INLAND
120HR VT 02/0000Z 23.0N 101.5W 30 KT...INLAND

$$
FORECASTER BRENNAN
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 954FtLCane:
Call me a poof caster but I don't see Alex doing much to affect anyone....that trek over the Yuc will do him in.... he had his day.... oh well if I'm wrong then serve me crow omelet on Monday... I've already been wrong once today with that god awful loss we had vs Ghana today....uggggg
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Quoting F4PHANTOM:
Made a NW jog past 2 hrs. .3N/.3W.
Looks like general WNW motion.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
They shifted it 1.0* north.

About 70 miles.
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THE AFOREMENTIONED AMSR-E OVERPASS WAS HELPFUL IN DETERMINING THE
INITIAL MOTION ESTIMATE OF 270/2. DARBY IS EMBEDDED IN A WEAK
WESTERLY LOW-LEVEL FLOW ON THE PERIPHERY OF THE LARGE CIRCULATION
ASSOCIATED WITH TROPICAL STORM ALEX AND STRONGER EASTERLY FLOW
ALOFT. THE RESULTING DEEP-LAYER MEAN FLOW SHOULD CARRY THE CYCLONE
ON A SLOW WESTWARD COURSE FOR THE NEXT 12 HOURS OR SO. THEREAFTER
...AS DARBY WEAKENS FURTHER AND BECOMES A SHALLOWER CYCLONE...IT AND
EVENTUALLY ITS REMNANTS WILL BE DRAWN EAST-NORTHEASTWARD OR
NORTHEASTWARD WITHIN THE DOMINANT CIRCULATION OF ALEX...WHICH IS
FORECAST TO MOVE OVER THE EXTREME SOUTHWESTERN GULF OF MEXICO
DURING THE NEXT FEW DAYS. THE NEW FORECAST TRACK IS ADJUSTED
SHARPLY TO THE RIGHT RIGHT...BUT NOT AS FAR RIGHT AS THE
MULTI-MODEL CONSENSUS...TO ACCOUNT FOR A SIGNIFICANT EASTWARD
SHIFT IN THE MODEL GUIDANCE.


Wow, Darby in the E-Pac is getting influenced by the massive Alex! Its pulling it toward the E, and also it anticyclone is inducing easterly shear on Darby.
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Lurker here, but would like to thank all you guys and gals that post the great links. I live on Gulf Coast and work a lot - don't always have time to dig around for good links. Thanks again.
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Call me a poof caster but I don't see Alex doing much to affect anyone....that trek over the Yuc will do him in.... he had his day.... oh well if I'm wrong then serve me crow omelet on Monday... I've already been wrong once today with that god awful loss we had vs Ghana today....uggggg
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2888. xcool
I HAVE FEEL SOMEONE GO GET HIT NOOOCOMMENT
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2887. pottery


For Aqua....

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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


The more I think about it...I was thinking the same as you when I saw this....so I totally understand:

img src="Hurricane Ike" alt="" />


Excatly its a hard forecast when a trough is in play....if the trough or the storm itself is a little stronger it can totally change things...If the next model runs are still trending North it may be onto something...Lets hope not
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2885. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
01L/TS/A
MARK
17.7N/88.4W
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


But they would shift the track farther South why?
The track wasn't shifted south, but rather they shifted it slightly north.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
RE: 2853

Man! What a kind response to a question. Thank you, even tho I didnt ask the question. So unlike most responses here. Thank you.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Darn, 5 mph off, it turns out Alex is at 60 mph winds at the 11 PM advisory. Let see how Alex fairs overnight over the Yucatan. Because its large and broad, it'll likely survive the Yucatan.
With such good outflow channels and well established banding I would expect Alex to do fairly well over the Yucatan especially with the terrain being mostly flat. With what I'm currently seeing, Alex should remain as TS while over land.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2881. eye
If you predict Alex to hit LA, you have to come up with a reason when everything appears to show that not happening. I remember at hurricanecity, back in the day, there was a poster from LA that predicted every storm to hit LA...he finally got it right with Katrina!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SykKid:
The track is further south?


Oops no it ain't its North only by a little, had to look it up for myself.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting louisianaboy444:


yay for Peace Treaties


The more I think about it...I was thinking the same as you when I saw this....so I totally understand:

img src="Hurricane Ike" alt="" />
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


They upped the intensity for when it becomes a hurricane from 75 to 80 m/h.
My forecast calls for Alex to make it to category 2 status before making landfall.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2875. xcool
here we go more NW TO COME.
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2873. xcool
Brownsville is back by nhc
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Dear NHC:

Please release your forecast discussion. We would like to know what is going on in your heads.

Thanks and Gig 'Em.
1900hurricane
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


IMO I don't think so, but its possible Alex will be 65 mph winds at the 11 advisory. It'll likely weaken after that.


Darn, 5 mph off, it turns out Alex is at 60 mph winds at the 11 PM advisory. Let see how Alex fairs overnight over the Yucatan. Because its large and broad, it'll likely survive the Yucatan.
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Thanks McMurray02!!! Lots of help!
Member Since: June 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 546
10pm cone of death

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ECMWF is obviously NHC's model of choice here. And based on its overall performance I would have to agree for now. I'm looking forward to the 0z ECMWF.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
It was just the first time the models showed that sharp turn towards the right. The NHC will like to see consistency before completely shifting the track and possibly ending up 100% wrong.


Even if they shouldn't have shifted their official forecast farther South because they could end up 100% wrong that way as well.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting louisianaboy444:
I'm sure they are waiting for Consistency which isnt a bad call they can't drastically change the track every model shift
Exactly.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
We can probably expect more "knee-jerk" model reactions till Alex clears the Yuc. Not a trained weatherman but an student from my back porch for 40 years on the Texas Coast. Seems most storms coming off the penisula this time of year tend to go west to west-northwest or shoot off northeast. It's rare for one to parralell the the Coastline and hit mid to upper Tex coast or Western La. coast. But this is probably not a typical year. Sooo?
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I'm sure they are waiting for Consistency which isnt a bad call they can't drastically change the track every model shift
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2862. IKE
Quoting DestinJeff:


Probably a minimum TS by 10 am advisory.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting MrstormX:


Must be that damn night intern again.
It was just the first time the models showed that sharp turn towards the right. The NHC will like to see consistency before completely shifting the track and possibly ending up 100% wrong.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2860. OneDay
Wow, NHC is really not expecting much in the way of steering between 24 and 48 hours out. I don't like that one bit. You wanna talk about suspenseful...just wait until this time Monday night through Tuesday night...
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Peace treaty signed and whatever happens....Happy Birthday!


yay for Peace Treaties
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I'll need to read the NHC Discussion on this for sure.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
2857. pottery
Quoting aquak9:
hi pottery! just listened to Trini allstars, thunder coming, AGAIN...

ya musta heard me playing it!

thanks ya'll for the exit time-line. As promised, I'll leave ya'll alone.

heheheheh
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2856. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
Blog Update!

- June 26, 2010 - 10:40 PM EDT - Quick Update On Tropical Storm Alex -
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
I don't post often on here, but I regularly visit the site. I enjoy reading people's analysis and guesses about active storm systems. Thanks to those that post the great graphics, too. Keeps me from having to go look for them and many of them I don't have access to otherwise.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting txsweetpea:
Is part of Alex already in the Gulf? Just wondering...looks like it to me.


Good question, and observation.

Indeed parts of Alex cover the Gulf. In fact, it not only covers part of the Caribbean, but outer banding structures cover part of the Pacific as well. The main question is: where is the center of circulation? That is what determines the official position. That is currently over Belize, and once the center emerges, then it'll be considered in the Gulf.

Hope that helps.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting louisianaboy444:


Well i can be a big person about this too...i think it was a big misunderstanding...I totally respect your opinion and god forbid for the Gulf Coast i hope you are right...I don't have a set landfall area because based on the info i have i really don't know the models are diverging as of now and its anybody's guess..i just got angry because i thought yall were accusing me of "Wishcasting" which that is not me i try to be real professional....if i ever add my state in the mix its because i think its a true possiblity


Peace treaty signed and whatever happens....Happy Birthday!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2850. IKE
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


Farther South?? wtf???


Looks just slightly further north.

That track should slow the blog down for the rest of the night.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


Farther South?? wtf???


Must be that damn night intern again.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438

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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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