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 miamiamiga:
2736:

Alex has the hiccups!


More like the NASA server. :D
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
so guys when will we have our next storm any models are forecasting this


Lol you're already on to the next one huh?
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
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.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
2745. bwt1982
Quoting louisianaboy444:


Wow this is unbelievable...Model plots take it anywhere from Mexico To extreme Western La and all i simply did was add my state in the "keeping a close watch category" and i'm a wishcaster...This will be a long season no wonder why the featured bloggers are not in here right now its total chaos...I'm out enjoy this mess!


LOL!!! Featured bloggers!!!! Oh please stop...Your killing me! That made my day. Not sure what a featured blogger is????? But back to the topic. I never called you a wishcaster! You are just getting a little to worked up for nothing like many others on here. Maybe that is allowed and comes along with being a featured blogger!
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2736:

Alex has the hiccups!
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2743. gator23
Quoting jeffs713:
2714. helove2trac
Mind sharing whatever crazy drugs you are on?

he's on wishcastazene its a psychotropic drug,
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2162
Quoting gator23:


hey um guy ::whispers:: im a Floridian, and I never 1)said acting like a Floridian was a bad thing 2)called you a wishcaster


Oh well sorry didnt know that was a compliment...ive always strived to be like a Floridian
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so guys when will we have our next storm any models are forecasting this
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To me gator...to even mention his biggest concern was his birhday party...and could care less about the oil spill...is a little (a lot) strange to me.
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Quoting Joanie38:
IMHO...These storms will do what they like no matter who does the forecasting, tracking..or anything for that matter..they seem to have a mind of their own.....just my thoughts....:)

I agree!
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Quoting helove2trac:
I think alex will hit between la/miss


What leads you to think this?
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2714. helove2trac
Mind sharing whatever crazy drugs you are on?
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2734. gator23
Quoting louisianaboy444:


I'm going to do the smart thing and end this conversation

you're the man.
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2162
Quoting oddspeed:
Spaghetti models from tropicalatlantic.com


Some models have it making landfall in LA, wow. Still looks like an extreme outside chance though. Looks like the main model consolidation has shifted from MX to TX. Although there are still a decent amount of models that take it into MX.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Read back...I never expected this to affect so. Fla. And the worse-case scenario you post for Alex to hit your area is that it will ruin your birthday party. Huh?


I'm going to do the smart thing and end this conversation
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

Seems like it's at an altitude or not reading properly. I wouldn't trust that one.


I agree, how could it start the day at 998mb anyways. Cheap Equipment imo
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting InTheCone:
I was always most impressed with the size and scope of Gilbert in terms of massive Atlantic storms, but I must say that this one could have, and still may, rival it in terms of shear atmotspheric volume. Looks so much like a W-pac storm.


IMO, Alex is still a baby in terms of storms. Ike is the champ of Atlantic storms in sheer atmospheric volume. He was a beast of a storm.
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2729. gator23
Quoting louisianaboy444:


Wow this is unbelievable...Model plots take it anywhere from Mexico To extreme Western La and all i simply did was add my state in the "keeping a close watch category" and i'm a wishcaster...This will be a long season no wonder why the featured bloggers are not in here right now its total chaos...I'm out enjoy this mess!


hey um guy ::whispers:: im a Floridian, and I never 1)said acting like a Floridian was a bad thing 2)called you a wishcaster
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2162
2728. palmpt
Quoting Tazmanian:
2723. ShenValleyFlyFish 2:02 AM GMT on June 27, 2010
Quoting palmpt:


Hey Tazz knows I'm a fan. That's why I feel OK busting on him. Didn't you see the j/k on the end?


ok


Cool
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IMHO...These storms will do what they like no matter who does the forecasting, tracking..or anything for that matter..they seem to have a mind of their own.....just my thoughts....:)
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2723. ShenValleyFlyFish 2:02 AM GMT on June 27, 2010
Quoting palmpt:


Hey Tazz knows I'm a fan. That's why I feel OK busting on him. Didn't you see the j/k on the end?


ok
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114702
hi guys!

alex looks as though he's got some strength to him. what's the land mass like it's going over? once hits water again i think it's gonna get going pretty quick. sad that the models shifted right, hopefully it will head to mx/tx border.
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2724. bwt1982
Quoting gator23:

The Louisianans are starting to sound like Floridians


LOL... I know right... I dont do that. I go by models, steering currents, the facts. I cant get caught up in every time a model turns to the right a little to panic. StormW even said the models would turn to the right a little, but people on here just freak out over nothing.
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Quoting palmpt:


Hey Tazz knows I'm a fan. That's why I feel OK busting on him. Didn't you see the j/k on the end?
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Quoting gator23:

The Louisianans are starting to sound like Floridians


Wow this is unbelievable...Model plots take it anywhere from Mexico To extreme Western La and all i simply did was add my state in the "keeping a close watch category" and i'm a wishcaster...This will be a long season no wonder why the featured bloggers are not in here right now its total chaos...I'm out enjoy this mess!
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Quoting louisianaboy444:


You twisting my words around! I meant that people banning other bloggers for what they think is inmature...and yes i think the fact that anytime you mention your state as a possibility people call you a wishcaster is childish and inmature...i just go by what the steering and models tell me...but you know what i have a good enough reputation on this blog i'm not getting into this


Read back...I never expected this to affect so. Fla. And the worse-case scenario you post for Alex to hit your area is that it will ruin your birthday party. Huh?
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2720. scott39
Quoting bwt1982:


LOL! relax buddy... Go back and read what I said....I said not that you are wishcasting! You right, you should prepare for whatever you think you are going to get in LA. Your entitled to that! Hell maybe I should hunker down here in FL just incase. But I think you as well as many on here are getting WAY to worked up with Alex. I am going to hate to see what it looks like in here when we start to get some real storms that actually threaten the lower 48.....
Granted no one should be freaking out, although your acting like Alex is not a potiential threat to the lower 48 states in the very near future. It may very well go into Mexico but then again it may not. If there was a potiential strike where you live at any % wouldnt you be concerned?
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Quoting MrstormX:


Nicolas Bravo, Mexico near the border of Belize.

Seems like it's at an altitude or not reading properly. I wouldn't trust that one.
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2718. palmpt
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
You are dreaming. If you had $1k you would be playing Nintendo not bothering the blog. j/k
Bothering the blog!? Taz is an icon on this blog... Has been for years.
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


JFV was a persona created by someone with longtime knowledge of the blog. Created this Forest Gump style, only annoying as hell, character who worried everyone to death with stupid questions and fooled folks into sympathizing with his poor pity-full me act causing conflicts whenever he appeared. Then disintegrated into a full blown Troll. Sucked in a lot of folks, I'll admit I was one for a while. Whoever did it should devote their time to a novel, true waste of talent.


LOL! Ok, thanks for the explanation. Sorry I missed all of that!
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2716. Story
Quoting Tazmanian:
i bet $1000 that this storm makes land fall in TX


Well I am in Corpus Christi, and I can assure you I ain't gonna wash my car anytime soon, either.

I just saw the shift in the models myself, but will still keep watching the blog...
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aspectre "TSAlex's...center relocated at only ~7mph (~11kph). TSAlex's center has halved its previous travel speed, which in turn was half of the one before that previous speed.
Major slowdown to a quarter of it's peak movement."
2381 HurricaneSwirl "Interesting.. that SHOULD help disrupt it, but given Alex's large size, I'm not sure the Yucatan will disrupt it much at all."

While we are accustomed to thinking of the Yucatan as relatively flat, there are mountainous regions in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico.

TSAlex's center will probably pass north of Belize's mountain range. But a meaningfully large section of the southern portion of the cyclone will pass over both them and the Guatemalan mountains. And the center and the central part of the northern portion will probably pass over the Yucatan's spine.
All of which would present a large frictional drag on TSAlex's spin. And the slower TSAlex travels over them, the more spin she will lose. With sufficient luck, TSAlex will travel so slowly that what ends up in the Gulf of Mexico will be a big mass of convection with (almost) no circulation.
Not that I really expect that much luck.
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I think alex will hit between la/miss
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2713. ssmate
Vegas has TX at 20-1. The smart money is still pouring into Mexico. Texas has a lot of pride though so I wouldn't completely count them out.
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Quoting bwt1982:


LOL! relax buddy... Go back and read what I said....I said not that you are wishcasting! You right, you should prepare for whatever you think you are going to get in LA. Your entitled to that! Hell maybe I should hunker down here in FL just incase. But I think you as well as many on here are getting WAY to worked up with Alex. I am going to hate to see what it looks like in here when we start to get some real storms that actually threaten the lower 48.....


You do Realize that it is "forecasted" to hit mexico as a Cat one hurricane right? And the more North it goes the stronger it could get...I never seen a Cat 2 or 3 Hurricane as something to sneeze at
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2711. will45
If you look at the NHC track it shows it going NW until tuesday
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I was always most impressed with the size and scope of Gilbert in terms of massive Atlantic storms, but I must say that this one could have, and still may, rival it in terms of shear atmotspheric volume. Looks so much like a W-pac storm.

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2709. IKE
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


maybe it should just do a hard right turn head due nne maybe that would make everyone happy



LOL.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
2708. gator23
Quoting bwt1982:


LOL! relax buddy... Go back and read what I said....I said not that you are wishcasting! You right, you should prepare for whatever you think you are going to get in LA. Your entitled to that! Hell maybe I should hunker down here in FL just incase. But I think you as well as many on here are getting WAY to worked up with Alex. I am going to hate to see what it looks like in here when we start to get some real storms that actually threaten the lower 48.....

The Louisianans are starting to sound like Floridians
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2162
2707. xcool
oh jfv iknow you the
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Quoting xcool:
i see more models shift right


Oh, great.
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Quoting StormW:


Well, what I'm trying to figure out is, why are they so different from the model runs from teh Alan Huffman site...they'Re the same models... ATCF.





<>img src="img src="Photobucket" alt="" />" alt="" />


WOW!! What a difference! I wonder why that is????
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Milford Sound in New Zealand
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Quoting palmpt:


Tazz talk. Got to love it!


The king of mis-spellers.
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

Maybe? Where is that? The starting pressure is awfully low, but then again, Alex is quite expansive...


Nicolas Bravo, Mexico near the border of Belize.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
2701. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Tazmanian:
i bet $1000 that this storm makes land fall in TX


maybe it should just do a hard right turn head due nne maybe that would make everyone happy

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2700. gator23
I still think Florida is a possibility...

J/K =-p
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2162
2699. IKE
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
You are dreaming. If you had $1k you would be playing Nintendo not bothering the blog. j/k


LOL.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858

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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.