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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2799. fsumet
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting louisianaboy444:


Yes i know what i'm capable of...but i'm only an amateur compared to some of these other guys like Levi and Drak all i simply did was ask for their opinion and these guys jumped on me...people in here really know how to make an innocent person look like the bad guy
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.
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2797. gator23
Quoting Hurricanes101:


nope you get it at 10pm CST

right I am confused sorry it coems out at 11pm Miami time because thats were the NHC is.
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2182
Quite a shift in the models and I expect that the GFDL and Euro will also shift the next couple of runs

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2795. xcool
ALEX not move much
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Don't really care all to much about the actual advisory other then the current direction of travel and the track map.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Updates are always in Eastern Time regardless of the location of the cyclone.
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Quoting gator23:




right, on the Eats coast. but the hurricane is on central time. so we get an update at 11pm CST


nope you get it at 10pm CST
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Quoting gator23:




right, on the Eats coast. but the hurricane is on central time. so we get an update at 11pm CST


EATS coast??? ROFL...sorry couldn't resist..lol!
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First of all good evening. Secondly after reading backwards as usual, its not hard to see who the trouble makers still are on the Blog!
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Quoting gator23:

right my bad the updates come out at 11 east time


No problem
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


lol


Haha Grothar yelled at me earlier for beating him on one of the advisories.. lol
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
2784. gator23
Quoting MrstormX:


Uhh I think you have your time zones mixed up its 9:19 central time right now.

right my bad the updates come out at 11 east time
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2182
NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...1000 PM CDT.


1000 PM CDT = 11:00 PM EDT

;)
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
its a bunch of chickens in the barnyard tryin to figure out a peckin order
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Quoting pottery:

I agree.
You guys were over-reacting to a statement out of context...


A level headed grownup on the blog. That's no fun. How is the storm shield working out, speaking of levelheaded.
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2780. gator23
.
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2182
2779. twooks
Quoting MrstormX:
Well starting in roughly 15 minutes we should be getting our F5 keys out.


Loads his auto-refreshing program.
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Quoting gator23:


1hr 20 minutes the Storm is on central time


Uhh I think you have your time zones mixed up its 9:19 central time right now.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting gator23:


1hr 20 minutes the Storm is on central time



nope 15-20 minutes, its 10:19 here
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Quoting gator23:
.


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Look based on these Model plots it can go anywhere up the Texas Coast. Thats all i really said i never freaked out and wishcasted anything i don't understand how all this started but i'm sorry if anyone got the wrong idea
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2774. gator23
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:
12-15 minutes until you finger needs to be on the F5 key.


1hr 20 minutes the Storm is on central time
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2182
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:
12-15 minutes until you finger needs to be on the F5 key.


Me and you must share brainwaves.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
2771. scott39
Why do people worry about what other people say that obviously are just making a statement, or have no idea what thier talking about? Ex: OMG ALEX IS GOING TO HIT LA AT A CAT 5---- or--- i feel like the high will weaken and the trough will move it N---- Or-- its moving NW--or-- I know its going to hit Mexico on Monday at 8:00am! The point is, the folks that comment all the time trying to prove someone wrong are muuuch more annoying than other peoples opinion.
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2770. pottery
Quoting louisianaboy444:


Okay this is getting a bit harsh...I am aware of whats happening to my state that i have loved for 20 years...What i was concerned about was the rain i would receive from this system...You could be a politician because every word i have said you have twisted around to make me into a bad person

I agree.
You guys were over-reacting to a statement out of context...
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2768. xcool
i get ECMWFmodel ,at 1am now
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Well starting in roughly 15 minutes we should be getting our F5 keys out.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Based on these model runs:



My 11PM track looks like this.

NOTE: The intensity right next to the center line of the cone of error.



Looks reasonable for this run. Almost exactly what I have plotted.
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Quoting louisianaboy444:


Okay this is getting a bit harsh...I am aware of whats happening to my state that i have loved for 20 years...What i was concerned about was the rain i would receive from this system...You could be a politician because every word i have said you have twisted around to make me into a bad person
Don't bother to answer. IMO you are more than capable of figuring out what is going on with Alex and no-one knows regardless of the track what effects you will feel from it. Alex passed approx. 200 miles west of here and we had 40 mph winds and very heavy rains.
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Quoting IKE:
2 am CDST.


YIKES! Got awhile yet...sigh....
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Quoting IKE:
2 am CDST.

Thanks IKE! Wasn't sure of the exact time.
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2761. gator23
.
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2182
Quoting TexasHurricane:


when does that one come out?
Quoting Joanie38:


When does that one come out???

Not until around 2 am. I'm probably not going to stay up for it, but rather wait until tomorrow morning to see it.
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2759. IKE
2 am CDST.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tropicfreak:


I agree, the feeder bands will be over water so they will keep alex alive.


If anything the new IR loop seems like there is a flare up around the COC since landfall
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yall are ruining a good thing with all this fighting your worse than my 12 year old kids 'YAAAA WELL MY DAD CAN BEAT UP YOUR DAD' please stop
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Quoting 1900hurricane:
If you're into watching models, the upcoming 00Z ECMWF is a key one to be watching for. I expect it probably wont change much (why would it? It's been scary consistent so far), but if it trends more northwards, something is up.


When does that one come out???
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Quoting 1900hurricane:
If you're into watching models, the upcoming 00Z ECMWF is a key one to be watching for. I expect it probably wont change much (why would it? It's been scary consistent so far), but if it trends more northwards, something is up.


when does that one come out?
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
2753. xcool
Somebody's Gonna Be Wrong on forecast track...ifififif happen we find out
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Quoting MrstormX:


Lol you're already on to the next one huh?
LOL. We aren't even half way with Alex. Chances are that Alex will become a hurricane once in the GOMEX.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting cooldayr:
Considering the shear size of this storm is it possible that alex may not weaken much over land


I agree, the feeder bands will be over water so they will keep alex alive.
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Considering the shear size of this storm is it possible that alex may not weaken much over land
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Quoting miamiamiga:
2736:

Alex has the hiccups!


More like the NASA server. :D
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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.