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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Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


Farther South?? wtf???


Must be that damn night intern again.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
2848. 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.
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I am a little confused with the models! The Trough is very far south.
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Quoting Hardcoreweather2010:
Do ya'll think that we will see the NHC upgrade Alex to a cane overland ?


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.
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Is Record Season there... whohoo... are r eating crow yet.......?
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Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
2842. IKE
OUTLOOK VALID 01/0000Z 23.0N 99.0W...INLAND

NHC doesn't buy the models...yet.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
I think everyone is F5ing for the track map lol.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
It was okay here. Winds around 40 mph, rough seas and some heavy rains but not too bad. Thanks for asking.
BTW. Weather has cleared already. Worst of it here was last night up until this afternoon.
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Quoting GlobalWarming:
Absolutely, G'evening, all! StormWatcher, how are you dealing with Alex down there, this evening? I hope you and yours are doing wonderful.
It was okay here. Winds around 40 mph, rough seas and some heavy rains but not too bad. Thanks for asking.
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2836. pottery
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


A level headed grownup on the blog. That's no fun. How is the storm shield working out, speaking of levelheaded.

LOL.
The StormShield is working really well.
In fact, a little fine-tuning is required. Today was too hot and dry, and there is plenty of yard-work to do, especially as the wife is back, and has "Plans" for parts of the garden tomorrow.
These "plans" are best attempted in cool conditions, and after a good night's rest.
I also have to factor-in 2 important football games...
So it's going to be busy around here..
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ZCZC MIATCMAT1 ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM
TROPICAL STORM ALEX FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 6
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL012010
0300 UTC SUN JUN 27 2010

CHANGES IN WATCHES AND WARNINGS WITH THIS ADVISORY...

THE TROPICAL STORM WATCH FOR THE COAST OF HONDURAS HAS BEEN
DISCONTINUED.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE COAST OF BELIZE AND THE EAST COAST OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA OF
MEXICO FROM CHETUMAL TO CANCUN

TROPICAL STORM CENTER LOCATED NEAR 17.7N 88.4W AT 27/0300Z
POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 30 NM

PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST OR 290 DEGREES AT 10 KT

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 997 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 50 KT WITH GUSTS TO 60 KT.
50 KT....... 0NE 15SE 0SW 0NW.
34 KT....... 90NE 75SE 30SW 30NW.
WINDS AND SEAS VARY GREATLY IN EACH QUADRANT. RADII IN NAUTICAL
MILES ARE THE LARGEST RADII EXPECTED ANYWHERE IN THAT QUADRANT.

REPEAT...CENTER LOCATED NEAR 17.7N 88.4W AT 27/0300Z
AT 27/0000Z CENTER WAS LOCATED NEAR 17.5N 88.1W

FORECAST VALID 27/1200Z 18.5N 89.9W...INLAND
MAX WIND 30 KT...GUSTS 40 KT.

FORECAST VALID 28/0000Z 19.6N 91.5W...OVER WATER
MAX WIND 35 KT...GUSTS 45 KT.
34 KT... 30NE 0SE 0SW 30NW.

FORECAST VALID 28/1200Z 20.4N 92.6W
MAX WIND 45 KT...GUSTS 55 KT.
34 KT... 60NE 50SE 30SW 60NW.

FORECAST VALID 29/0000Z 21.0N 93.6W
MAX WIND 55 KT...GUSTS 65 KT.
50 KT... 30NE 30SE 0SW 30NW.
34 KT... 75NE 75SE 60SW 75NW.

FORECAST VALID 30/0000Z 22.0N 96.0W
MAX WIND 70 KT...GUSTS 85 KT.
50 KT... 40NE 30SE 30SW 40NW.
34 KT... 90NE 90SE 75SW 90NW.

EXTENDED OUTLOOK. NOTE...ERRORS FOR TRACK HAVE AVERAGED NEAR 200 NM
ON DAY 4 AND 250 NM ON DAY 5...AND FOR INTENSITY NEAR 20 KT EACH DAY

OUTLOOK VALID 01/0000Z 23.0N 99.0W...INLAND
MAX WIND 55 KT...GUSTS 65 KT.

OUTLOOK VALID 02/0000Z 23.0N 101.5W...INLAND
MAX WIND 30 KT...GUSTS 40 KT.

REQUEST FOR 3 HOURLY SHIP REPORTS WITHIN 300 MILES OF 17.7N 88.4W

NEXT ADVISORY AT 27/0900Z

$$
FORECASTER BRENNAN


NNNN
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
If I am wrong…then I will admit it. I always have. No one is trying to make you look like a bad guy. I was just going by your own posts. As of now, I don’t see Alex making a drastic turn to the north. I may be wrong. Didn’t mean to get you upset.


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
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Quoting BiloxiIsle:
Why are the computer models they are showing on the weather channel, all south of Texas?


Weather Channel sucks and doesn't know how to update its models.
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2831. IKE
Quoting Joanie38:
Can someone plz post all the recent models?? Thanks so much!



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2830. fsumet
.
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2829. xcool
GlobalWarming hey jfv
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Why are the computer models they are showing on the weather channel, all south of Texas?
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2822. scott39 2:30 AM GMT on June 27, 2010
Quoting Tazmanian:
2811. scott39 2:28 AM GMT on June 27, 2010
Quoting Tazmanian:
i wounder oh will be in the cone of Doom
When is the new cone of doom comimg out?


11pm
Thanks central or eastern time?

soon be comeing out 8pm my time zone
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114655
Quoting scott39:
Thanks central or eastern time?


Eastern
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting Hardcoreweather2010:
Do ya'll think that we will see the NHC upgrade Alex to a cane overland ?
With the land its going over I doubt it strengthen, I think it may weaken a little.
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2816. WinterAnalystwx13 2:30 AM GMT on June 27, 2010
Quoting Tazmanian:
2811. scott39 2:28 AM GMT on June 27, 2010
Quoting Tazmanian:
i wounder oh will be in the cone of Doom
When is the new cone of doom comimg out?


11pm


The next 15-25 minutes

yuper
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114655
Quoting Bordonaro:
About 24 hrs. Tomorrow night :o)!!


Hey man long time no see? Heard you've been having computer problems.
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2822. scott39
Quoting Tazmanian:
2811. scott39 2:28 AM GMT on June 27, 2010
Quoting Tazmanian:
i wounder oh will be in the cone of Doom
When is the new cone of doom comimg out?


11pm
Thanks central or eastern time?
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Is part of Alex already in the Gulf? Just wondering...looks like it to me.
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Can someone plz post all the recent models?? Thanks so much!
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If I am wrong…then I will admit it. I always have. No one is trying to make you look like a bad guy. I was just going by your own posts. As of now, I don’t see Alex making a drastic turn to the north. I may be wrong. Didn’t mean to get you upset.
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Quoting miamiamiga:
louisianaboy...

hey..from an outsider who does more lurking than anything..i wouldn't worry about it. those that are making a big deal about your comment about your birthday are the ones looking bad...


Thanks for the support ;)
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Quoting aquak9:
quick question- I promise if ya'll answer it right away, I'll leave ya'll alone:

How long until Alex exits the coast?
About 24 hrs. Tomorrow night :o)!!
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2811. scott39 2:28 AM GMT on June 27, 2010
Quoting Tazmanian:
i wounder oh will be in the cone of Doom
When is the new cone of doom comimg out?


11pm
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114655
Quoting Hardcoreweather2010:
Do ya'll think that we will see the NHC upgrade Alex to a cane overland ?


No if anything they will weaken it.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
2811. scott39
Quoting Tazmanian:
i wounder oh will be in the cone of Doom
When is the new cone of doom comimg out?
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Do ya'll think that we will see the NHC upgrade Alex to a cane overland ?
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2809. aquak9
quick question- I promise if ya'll answer it right away, I'll leave ya'll alone:

How long until Alex exits the coast?
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the gulfstream jet should be flying on monday that will help the models greatly.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Don't worry about it. We know who the trouble makers are so don't respond. If you don't ask questions in life you will never learn. You do a great job so don't allow anyone to make you feel inferior in what you do.


Words of wisom...Thanks...My temper just sometimes gets the best of me when your being attacked its hard to hold back but your absolutely right
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2800. KingofNewOrleans 2:24 AM GMT on June 27, 2010
Quoting Tazmanian:
i bet $1000 that this storm makes land fall in TX


Of course, Tazmanian declared he'd eat crow if Alex made landfall in Belize. How was it?


huh? LOL
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114655
i wounder oh will be in the cone of Doom
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114655
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Don't worry about it. We know who the trouble makers are so don't respond. If you don't ask questions in life you will never learn. You do a great job so don't allow anyone to make you feel inferior in what you do.


I so agree :)
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It appears since Alex made landfall its actually tightened up abit,still see a more northward trend i don't think land will affect a system this large so much as Alex bands are drawing moisture from the Caribbean,EPAC and maybe even the Gulf.
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louisianaboy...

hey..from an outsider who does more lurking than anything..i wouldn't worry about it. those that are making a big deal about your comment about your birthday are the ones looking bad...
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Don't worry about it. We know who the trouble makers are so don't respond. If you don't ask questions in life you will never learn. You do a great job so don't allow anyone to make you feel inferior in what you do.


Beautifully stated
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting Tazmanian:
i bet $1000 that this storm makes land fall in TX


Of course, Tazmanian declared he'd eat crow if Alex made landfall in Belize. How was it?
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2799. fsumet
.
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.