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 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.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
wemay have a IKE on are hands



IKE part 2
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
2647. JLPR2
I would laugh to death if instead of reorganizing in the Gulf it ends up falling apart XD.
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Quoting Joanie38:


Upper Texas coast? New runs?
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!
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2645. bwt1982
Quoting louisianaboy444:


Are you laughing at me?


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!
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looks like its going too upper TX
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
2642. CJC111
Someone please correct if I am wrong but Alex has been a jumbled mess from the start. The system never did come together like it could have and radar has shown differnt areas fighting over energy within Alex all week. Without a solid consolidation, it will not be affected by the trough. Or is there reason to believe that it can consolidate after entering the gulf and how long would that take? I've been following the different forecast trends and MX seems like the likely strike given it's disorganized nature.
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This is crazy how fast the models can change! Lets hope we don't have an Ike on our hands.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
Noooooo. JFV was an actual blogger at some point. The persona was taken from him and extended in the blog until today even though he's been gone for awhile.


possible
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2639. scott39
Quoting Patrap:


I like the Mean Middle for now..Brownsville..but as the info and Storm Morphs ..that may change to the right as the Guidance runs did.
I have an anxious feeling we are going to keep seeing model runs to the right. Hopefully im wrong.
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Quoting StormW:
img src="Photobucket" alt="" />


Interesting, half the tracks make a landfall on the US, 40% affect Southern Ontario and 15% depict a crossing into the East Pacific.
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Big storm!!! Seems to already be pullin' in a lot of energy from the gulf.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Ban me also...I think Mexico.


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
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Quoting Inactivity:
My poll average is B. which is...

B.The forcasted track will shift north a little bit

Hope this clears things up.
Not so fast.
I live in Florida.
I demand a recount!
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mode runs tooa big JUMP N it looks like TX will be back in the cone of DOOM
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
I told you the trolls were a'comin'
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
Evening all,

For a full history of Alex from an African wave till now, I have posted my synoptic report on Alex on my blog (link).

Feel free to leave comments about what you think, whether you agree/disagree with my synoptic history of Alex, or if you don't understand what I am saying and I can clarify.
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JFV is now GW he is still JFV but under a new name
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2629. bwt1982
Why does everyone keep saying north??? Not going to happen!
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So they are still saying a mexico hit?
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


JFV was a persona ...... Whoever did it should devote their time to a novel, true waste of talent.


Yup the title could be For Whom the Troll Tolls
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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!
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Ban me also...I think Mexico.
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Quoting StormW:
img src="Photobucket" alt="" />


Ummmm StormW?? What is your take on these model runs???
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2622. xcool
StormW .50% models over tx /20% by mx
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There is ANOTHER large thunderstorm popping up over Minnesota/Iowa, just like it did yesterday?!
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do we evere wishcaste


where goodlittle boys you nevere see me in the paper
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Quoting Tazmanian:
wait here they aare
GEM

Link


Upper Texas coast? New runs?
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Quoting SykKid:
Guy's this storm isn't heading to Texas. This is mexico bound all the way. Stop wishcasting.


Umm.. look at the models, that proves my point of a northernly component. Sorry, facts are facts. I wasn't wishing this storm to go to Texas, but I saw a deeper trough then what models showed..
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Quoting bwt1982:


Are you laughing at me?
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2615. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting StormW:
img src="Photobucket" alt="" />
wow theres one in there showing it coming to toronto maybe i will board up

lol
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54360
Quoting StormW:
img src="Photobucket" alt="" />


Hi Storm,

I am assuming there may be some changes coming in the track?
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
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.
Noooooo. JFV was an actual blogger at some point. The persona was taken from him and extended in the blog until today even though he's been gone for awhile.
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2612. Patrap
Quoting scott39:
Whats your current thinking on track Patrap?


I like the Mean Middle for now..Brownsville..but as the info and Storm Morphs ..that may change to the right as the Guidance runs did.
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2611. Levi32
Ok, I'm out again, back later.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
2610. bwt1982
Quoting louisianaboy444:
What scares me Levi is that you never know what the trough will do....or how strong this will be one little change and its a whole new ball game....many storms have gotten caught in troughs and moved due north at a high rate of speed hitting the Tx/La area..Audrey to be specific....this setup has happened before and i just hope history doesn't repeat itself
LMAO! I think your safe!
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2609. Levi32
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I'm sure we will see NW motion in the GOMEX, but currently I doubt there is real NW motion.


It's a heading of about 300 degrees during the last 6 hours. Definitely more northerly than the previous 6 hours.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
To answer that question would take about 10,000 posts.


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.
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2607. scott39
Quoting Patrap:
Whats your current thinking on track Patrap?
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2606. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting JDSmith:
TS Alex is, by my forecast, expected to make landfall in Wyoming in 24 hours. I will be contacting the NHC to have warnings issued. This is serious, all those living along the border of Wyoming and the Gulf of Mexico need evacuate.

Winds close to 200MPH can be expected along the coast. Massive property damage and loss of life WILL occur in the region. All residents MUST evacuate, or face the one who calls himself the great I AM.
well i hope your day pass is all most up
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2602. amd
winds are now sw out of belize's airport. The storm is inland now. IMO.

Belize airport weather

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2601. OneDay
I was thinking Montana. :P
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wait here they aare
GEM

Link
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
2599. Patrap
ALEX Viz to Night IR Loop
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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.