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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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
2698. bwt1982
Quoting louisianaboy444:


In No way shape or form am i wishcasting for starters you can ask almost anyone on here i have been an unbiased featured blogger on this site for 5 years...it actually you didn't add the whole story...Yes some models do take it into Mexico but some are shifting to the Texas Coast the BAMD model which is a good steering model takes it as far North as Louisiana...Thats not wishcasting thats fact buddy...and i think every scenario should be covered so people would be prepared


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.....
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Quoting ATL:


Still looks that way for now...though perhaps closer to the U.S. border. The ECMWF is one of the best models and the NHC has been leaning heavily on it and it's still pointing definitively to a MX landfall, so don't get your hopes up just yet.



I'm not wishcasting in any way shape or form.
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2696. srada
The NHC is not going to change its track on ONE set of model runs..if the runs are consistent and the NHC changes the track, then its believable..so I wouldnt be boarding up the windows just yet
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2695. scott39
Quoting tropicfreak:


Same here, every time I leave there is a drastic change in track, organization, models, etc.

Thats the roller coaster ride of a TC.
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Tazz:

You are dreaming. If you had $1k you would be playing Nintendo not bothering the blog. j/k
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2693. xcool
i see more models shift right
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Quoting MrstormX:
Whoa... 992mb for real?



Maybe? Where is that? The starting pressure is awfully low, but then again, Alex is quite expansive...
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A Weather Station near the Belize/Mexico Border picked up a pressure reading of 991.8mb there must be some kind of error.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting StormW:
On a final note before I go to bed...I did say earlier the models would shift right.

Good night all!


StormW is always right, never question the guy.
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2689. xcool
lmaoo
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2688. palmpt
Quoting Tazmanian:




nowwould we evere scare you lol


Tazz talk. Got to love it!
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2687. xcool
On a final note for stw yep
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2686. IKE
Quoting CJC111:
Will the expanding size over land slow the development when it comes back over water?


It should for a while.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
So I try to be on this blog as much as I can.
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Immovable object or irresistable force?

Well, maybe tomorrow we will know for sure....
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Quoting bwt1982:


Huh???? LOL! Not even close! Wow people are starting to scare me on here!




nowwould we evere scare you lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114712
Quoting FormerTigergirl:
Whoa...I leave this blog for a few hours and dang...what's this talk of model runs shifting back to the right...I can't leave ya'll for a second


Same here, every time I leave there is a drastic change in track, organization, models, etc.

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2680. gator23
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


Thats not what I meant.


ok
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Quoting HouGalv08:
Looks to be upper TXcoast, just south of Galveston (Maybe Sabine pass). I think I'm going to be sick! Just have to wait until it gets back over the GOM and picks a definite direction, like Levi said. OOOOOO, the suspense!


YES!!..and it's KILLIN me!!! I havent been able to pull myself from this blog!!!
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


It%u2019s not immature%u2026it is what I think will happen. If someone posted a scenario that Alex would ruin your %u201CBirthday Party%u201D%u2026..Would you call that post immature?


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
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Quoting oddspeed:
Spaghetti models from tropicalatlantic.com

Seems like a significant split in models. NW, stall, then North into texas... vs NW then W into mexico. It's easy to take the middle route and pick northern mexico, but the "experts" at NHC should take all the factors into account and choose one. Any thoughts on this, anyone?
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2675. CJC111
Will the expanding size over land slow the development when it comes back over water?
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Quoting louisianaboy444:


In No way shape or form am i wishcasting for starters you can ask almost anyone on here i have been an unbiased featured blogger on this site for 5 years...it actually you didn't add the whole story...Yes some models do take it into Mexico but some are shifting to the Texas Coast the BAMD model which is a good steering model takes it as far North as Louisiana...Thats not wishcasting thats fact buddy...and i think every scenario should be covered so people would be prepared


Well Put!!!!
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Whoa... 992mb for real?


Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Whoa...I leave this blog for a few hours and dang...what's this talk of model runs shifting back to the right...I can't leave ya'll for a second
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2670. ATL
Quoting tropicfreak:
SO ARE THEY STILL SAYING A MEXICAN LANDFALL??????!!!!!


Still looks that way for now...though perhaps closer to the U.S. border. The ECMWF is one of the best models and the NHC has been leaning heavily on it and it's still pointing definitively to a MX landfall, so don't get your hopes up just yet.
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i bet $1000 that this storm makes land fall in TX
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114712
2668. scott39
Quoting bwt1982:


Not really, just a long day of people on here wishcasting, not saying you are but it think with all the models and weather in place.... all the eviedence your safe in LA. Everyone on here is hoping this trough picks up Alex and pulls it North into the gulf so they have something to talk about for the next few days. To many people get to hyped up early in the season over a weak TS that wont amount to much. They need to save there energy for the real storms!
Are you watching the models change as we type?
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2664. bwt1982
Quoting Tazmanian:
wemay have a IKE on are hands



IKE part 2


Huh???? LOL! Not even close! Wow people are starting to scare me on here!
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Quoting bwt1982:


Not really, just a long day of people on here wishcasting, not saying you are but it think with all the models and weather in place.... all the eviedence your safe in LA. Everyone on here is hoping this trough picks up Alex and pulls it North into the gulf so they have something to talk about for the next few days. To many people get to hyped up early in the season over a weak TS that wont amount to much. They need to save there energy for the real storms!


In No way shape or form am i wishcasting for starters you can ask almost anyone on here i have been an unbiased featured blogger on this site for 5 years...it actually you didn't add the whole story...Yes some models do take it into Mexico but some are shifting to the Texas Coast the BAMD model which is a good steering model takes it as far North as Louisiana...Thats not wishcasting thats fact buddy...and i think every scenario should be covered so people would be prepared
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Quoting louisianaboy444:


Wow why are people on here so inmature...its okay to think what you please but for people on the Gulf coast i think every scenario should be covered especially if they have models showing that scenario hopefulyl your right


It’s not immature…it is what I think will happen. If someone posted a scenario that Alex would ruin your “Birthday Party”…..Would you call that post immature?
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2661. gator23
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


I really wish you would stop before you get banned...


why would they ban him for now the NHC agrees with him. For now

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at1+shtml/203114.shtml?5-daynl#contents
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well lookslike its no longer going toomake land fall in MX
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114712
Models are all over the place now. Just when it looked like we had a decent consensus.

Will be interesting to see what the Euro does tonight.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
SO ARE THEY STILL SAYING A MEXICAN LANDFALL??????!!!!!
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2657. USSINS
Quoting CosmicEvents:
Not so fast.
I live in Florida.
I demand a recount!


That's funny, Cosmic! ;)
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Quoting HouGalv08:
Looks to be upper TXcoast, just south of Galveston (Maybe Sabine pass). I think I'm going to be sick! Just have to wait until it gets back over the GOM and picks a definite direction, like Levi said. OOOOOO, the suspense!


Kind of like a movie.
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some moderuns are being a doomcaster it takes it right overe BP
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114712
2654. xcool
noo one is safe from storms take it with a grain of salt.
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How large are the secondary impacts of a system such as this?

IE...

The wake a low pressure system as large as this one would leave.... Pushing oil towards coastlines...

Energy transfers... Triggering secondary flooding along the trough... ect.
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Quoting ChillinInTheKeys:
Big storm!!! Seems to already be pullin' in a lot of energy from the gulf.


After Alex has made landfall, its seems to have expanded in size. Weakening tropical cyclones can "loosen up" over land, growing into a larger system. This storm is HUGE, its almost the size of the Gulf of Mexico (if it were centered in the central Gulf right now, its clouds would cover the entire Gulf).

I am really concerned for residents of Central America and SE Mexico because of the size of the storm and the amount of intense convective clusters Alex has (i.e., strong rainfall for long periods of time, flooding problems).
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Spaghetti models from tropicalatlantic.com
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Quoting reedzone:
g2g now, I'll be back later tonight to see what Alex is up to.. So far it seems my forecast may pan out, not a wishcast.. Deeper trough means more northern track. Not north Texas, but Southern Texas is liekly. ttyl all!


I agree with you firmly you go by from what the models say, and doing that is not wishcasting.
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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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