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 bassis:
How accurate is the Multiplatform Satellite Surface Wind Analysis?
It's based on satellite so the answer would be "not very".
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Oh man, that can't be good.


Link plz?? :):) Thanks :)
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
2496. Patrap
Quoting hercj:

You know Pat NOAA missed a great research opportunity with this system.



Lotsa Alex to come yet I feel..

Thad Allen best have someone Lurking here..

Or some folks may look worse in 48 than they do now.

If thats possible.
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2495. bassis
How accurate is the Multiplatform Satellite Surface Wind Analysis?
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

Here are some!



Out of all of them, this is the best analogue I could find:



Thanks, that one is definitely the best analog.
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The Yucatan is like a half-way finished pancake.Warm,Moist,and flat.LOL
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2492. jpsb
Quoting bdkennedy1:
That thing is gigantic! I hope it comes more north, we need the rain. Dallas is practically near drought.
Pretty dry here in Galveston too, now lets see. Drought or 4 feet of water in my house? hmmmm.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1276
Quoting Inactivity:
Let's take a small poll.

A.The forcasted track will shift north a lot.

B.The forcasted track will shift north a little bit

C.The forcasted track will have little change

D.The forcasted track will shift south a little bit

E.The forcasted track will shift south a lot(Into Mexico)

I vote C or B


Ummm to be safe I say B....
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
2490. IKE
NHC won't shift the track a lot on one updated 5 day track. Maybe a gradual turn. Then more on the next if the next runs continue a trend.
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Quoting MrstormX:


Yah my same thought...


hint: it was another A storm on this exact date
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Quoting TerraNova:


BAMD = Beta Advection Deep, meant for stronger systems with deeper cores.
Yes I understand that, but by the time it is by those coordinates it could be a deep system.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
POOR BP
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2486. Patrap
Animated Radar Loop,Belize Airport
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2484. Levi32
The BAMM and BAMD shifting north is significant, as they represent what steering currents will be leaning towards while Alex is in the western gulf. The BAMS shows that a weak system will tend to continue westward, whereas a stronger storm will try to head northward, as one would expect. This means that how fast Alex is able to reorganize once it emerges west of the Yucatan will play a potentially important role in its future track.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
2483. Patrap
Animated Radar Loop,Belize Airport
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2482. hercj
Quoting Patrap:


ALEX undergoing a lotsa influences and changes tonight..and I'd keep a wary eye on it as the Models are swinging back and forth Like Bar Doors on Bourbon Street every 12-18 hours.

We need some G-4 Data Flights.

Send the Bill to BP.

Twice.

You know Pat NOAA missed a great research opportunity with this system.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MrstormX:
Can anybody figure out any historic storms that hit so far south along the Yucatan and then headed to Texas.

Here are some!



Out of all of them, this is the best analogue I could find:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Inactivity:
Let's take a small poll.

A.The forcasted track will shift north a lot.

B.The forcasted track will shift north a little bit

C.The forcasted track will have little change

D.The forcasted track will shift south a little bit

E.The forcasted track will shift south a lot(Into Mexico)

I vote C or B
B.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Oh man, that can't be good.


BAMD = Beta Advection Deep, meant for stronger systems with deeper cores. Nevertheless something to keep in mind if Alex picks up a lot of steam in the GOM.
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Quoting lopaka001:




Whats that Category One striking Texas?
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Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:
Its looing like Alex will maintain TS status crossing over land....
I've been saying it since the morning. With that established outflow and banding Alex should have no problems staying as a TS over land. Plus, the land it is approaching isn't even mountainous.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Patrap:


ALEX undergoing a lotsa influences and changes tonight..and I'd keep a wary eye on it as the Models are swinging back and forth Like Bar Doors on Bourbon Street every 12-18 hours.

We need some G-4 Data Flights.

Send the Bill to BP.

Twice.


YOU are hilarious Patrap!! I am still keeping a heads up on Alex..I can't seem to get away from this blog..been here allll day!!! LOL!
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
Quoting louisianaboy444:
What was another storm in June that formed in the BOC and got caught up in a trough racing Northward towards TX/La....We've seen this before...Just a weird thought


Yah my same thought...
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Quoting IKE:


BAMD
Oh man, that can't be good.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2466. Inactivity 12:54 AM GMT on June 27, 2010

Ya C or B.
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Quoting MrstormX:
Can anybody figure out any historic storms that hit so far south along the Yucatan and then headed to Texas.


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2469. IKE
Quoting Patrap:


ALEX undergoing a lotsa influences and changes tonight..and I'd keep a wary eye on it as the Models are swinging back and forth Like Bar Doors on Bourbon Street every 12-18 hours.

We need some G-4 Data Flights.

Send the Bill to BP.

Twice.


It would be something if it all of a sudden turned NNW and headed toward the western GOM. Oil volcano included.
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2468. Patrap
00z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
ALEX
Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)






Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)






Early Model Wind Forecasts

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What was another storm in June that formed in the BOC and got caught up in a trough racing Northward towards TX/La....We've seen this before...Just a weird thought
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Let's take a small poll.

A.The forcasted track will shift north a lot.

B.The forcasted track will shift north a little bit

C.The forcasted track will have little change

D.The forcasted track will shift south a little bit

E.The forcasted track will shift south a lot(Into Mexico)

I vote C or B
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Quoting IKE:
Belize should be getting some nasty weather now....



Webcam; can't see much other than the wind blowing against those palms.

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2463. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
What is?


BAMD
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Alex already being marooned?
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2461. Patrap
Quoting Joanie38:


Nah Pat, you don't haveta behave...LOL!!! What is your take on Alex now ?? Behave when ya answer though...LOL!!


ALEX undergoing a lotsa influences and changes tonight..and I'd keep a wary eye on it as the Models are swinging back and forth Like Bar Doors on Bourbon Street every 12-18 hours.

We need some G-4 Data Flights.

Send the Bill to BP.

Twice.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:
23.6N 93.7W 25.0N 94.1W

Heading almost due north....


At first I thought you were trying to fool people by posting another system's coordinates, like Celia or Darby or invest 94L, but then I realized, there isn't anything in the coordinates you listed.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting 1900hurricane:

Might be a bad example, but it's the first one I could think of off the top of my head. This one doesn't show a cross, but it's first advisory is @ 70mph, so it's conceivable that it might have...



Link


I was thinking Dolly 2008 but that made landfall around Cozumel.
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Quoting Patrap:



I'll behave..

LOL

Dats no fun


Nah Pat, you don't haveta behave...LOL!!! What is your take on Alex now ?? Behave when ya answer though...LOL!!
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
Quoting IKE:
23.6N 93.7W 25.0N 94.1W

Heading almost due north....
What is?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2456. IKE
Belize should be getting some nasty weather now....

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Quoting MrNatural:


Looks like the flare up is settling down as we talk.


I was also refering to any flare up in the BOC not just that one I just forgot to mention "like the one in the BOC" and all of this may not mean anything with this system heading north
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I'm thinking Alex may not weaken as much as currently predicted over the Yucatan due to its size.
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Quoting MrstormX:
Can anybody figure out any historic storms that hit so far south along the Yucatan and then headed to Texas.

Might be a bad example, but it's the first one I could think of off the top of my head. This one doesn't show a cross, but it's first advisory is @ 70mph, so it's conceivable that it might have...



Link
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2452. amd
winds are increasing again at Caye Caulker, Belize, and are out of the South and SSW.

Caye Caulker Weather History from WU

With west winds at the Belize Aiport, and South and SSW winds at Caye Caulker, IMO, landfall looks like it is just north of Belize Airport.

Pressure at Caye Caulker bottomed out just under 996 mb, so I suspect the pressure of Alex is currently 994 or 995 mb at its center.
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2451. Patrap
Quoting IKE:
23.6N 93.7W 25.0N 94.1W

Heading almost due north....


Can one say..land friction?

The Yucatan treats some cyclones like a Bad Bumper Pool table shot with English

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2450. Patrap
I like to think of the Storm as Alexis..

Reow..
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2449. IKE
23.6N 93.7W 25.0N 94.1W

Heading almost due north....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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