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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2449. IKE
23.6N 93.7W 25.0N 94.1W

Heading almost due north....
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:



right what I am saying is if Alex falls apart completely then any convection off shore could have a relocation of the center. especially if the storm does not ever emerge into the BOC... like if it goes south of the BOC then any convection could cause a relocation of the center


Looks like the flare up is settling down as we talk.
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Quoting IKE:
Alex...one of the best-looking storms I've seen in a while in the Atlantic.


agree
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 299 Comments: 40918
African Wave OF Doom
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
Quoting winter123:
Here's something I bet no one thought of. We may see a cross-basin Fujiwara effect in a few days. Has that even happened before? Or, more likely alex's outflow will just destroy darby before darby hits mexico.

Link = Fujiwara Effect





... Think we're up to about 7 comments per minute :)


Both vortexes would be too weak for that to happen by the time they get close to each other, but it'd sure be interesting if it did!
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2444. Patrap
Quoting Joanie38:



Don't SAY THAT Pat!!!....LOL!



I'll behave..

LOL

Dats no fun
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MiamiHurricanes09 you have mail
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Quoting ElConando:


It will taken more into account in the middle of the Atlantic where the only things to go on are sat presentation and possibly a stray ship. Not too much as Sat presentation still on all frequencies still reigns supreme.
Very true. But in this case it is different.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2441. xcool
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2440. bassis
Quoting Levi32:
Alex making landfall as we speak, likely a Cat 1 hurricane. Belize getting battered as the sun falls.





Theres 2 for a cat 1
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2439. IKE
Alex...one of the best-looking storms I've seen in a while in the Atlantic.
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Here's something I bet no one thought of. We may see a cross-basin Fujiwara effect in a few days. Has that even happened before? Or, more likely alex's outflow will just destroy darby before darby hits mexico.

Link = Fujiwara Effect





... Think we're up to about 7 comments per minute :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
African Wave O Doom...

Long way away to be a spirally and junk..

Maybe itsa poser ?

Seems were all gonna be a tad busy thru October..maybe longer.



Don't SAY THAT Pat!!!....LOL!
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
2436. Levi32
Surface obs near Alex, what few there are, show surface pressures down to 996mb in the vicinity of the center, at both Caye Caulker Village and San Pedro. The actual central pressure is likely a couple of millibars lower than that. Alex is a borderline TS/Cat 1 hurricane based on satellite and radar presentation.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Just saying in general, lol.


It will taken more into account in the middle of the Atlantic where the only things to go on are sat presentation and possibly a stray ship. Not too much as Sat presentation still on all frequencies still reigns supreme.
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2433. Patrap
African Wave O Doom...

Long way away to be all spirally and junk..

Maybe itsa poser ?

Seems were all gonna be a tad busy thru October..maybe longer.
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Can anybody figure out any historic storms that hit so far south along the Yucatan and then headed to Texas.
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2431. xcool
WHXX01 KWBC 270023
CHGHUR
TROPICAL CYCLONE GUIDANCE MESSAGE
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
0023 UTC SUN JUN 27 2010

DISCLAIMER...NUMERICAL MODELS ARE SUBJECT TO LARGE ERRORS.
PLEASE REFER TO NHC OFFICIAL FORECASTS FOR TROPICAL CYCLONE
AND SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE INFORMATION.

ATLANTIC OBJECTIVE AIDS FOR

TROPICAL CYCLONE ALEX (AL012010) 20100627 0000 UTC

...00 HRS... ...12 HRS... ...24 HRS. .. ...36 HRS...
100627 0000 100627 1200 100628 0000 100628 1200

LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON
BAMS 17.5N 88.1W 18.7N 90.0W 19.7N 91.6W 20.6N 92.8W
BAMD 17.5N 88.1W 18.4N 89.7W 19.5N 90.7W 20.4N 91.3W
BAMM 17.5N 88.1W 18.7N 89.8W 20.0N 91.0W 21.0N 91.8W
LBAR 17.5N 88.1W 18.2N 90.0W 19.5N 92.0W 20.6N 93.9W
SHIP 50KTS 61KTS 72KTS 79KTS
DSHP 50KTS 33KTS 41KTS 48KTS

...48 HRS... ...72 HRS... ...96 HRS. .. ..120 HRS...
100629 0000 100630 0000 100701 0000 100702 0000

LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON
BAMS 21.0N 93.6W 21.3N 94.8W 21.1N 96.0W 20.8N 97.1W
BAMD 21.1N 91.5W 22.4N 92.5W 23.6N 93.7W 25.0N 94.1W
BAMM 21.8N 92.2W 22.8N 93.3W 23.3N 94.2W 24.1N 94.7W
LBAR 21.6N 95.7W 24.1N 98.8W 27.3N 100.4W 30.5N 99.5W
SHIP 86KTS 97KTS 96KTS 89KTS
DSHP 55KTS 66KTS 49KTS 29KTS

...INITIAL CONDITIONS...
LATCUR = 17.5N LONCUR = 88.1W DIRCUR = 285DEG SPDCUR = 9KT
LATM12 = 17.0N LONM12 = 86.2W DIRM12 = 281DEG SPDM12 = 11KT
LATM24 = 16.6N LONM24 = 83.9W
WNDCUR = 50KT RMAXWD = 15NM WNDM12 = 40KT
CENPRS = 998MB OUTPRS = 1008MB OUTRAD = 205NM SDEPTH = M
RD34NE = 90NM RD34SE = 75NM RD34SW = 30NM RD34NW = 30NM

$$
NNNN

BAM NOW N TOO

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That thing is gigantic! I hope it comes more north, we need the rain. Dallas is practically near drought.
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Quoting jpsb:
Ok, now I am going to go buy a six pack. All this talk about Texas, damn.
LOL!!!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting jpsb:
Ok, now I am going to go buy a six pack. All this talk about Texas, damn.


I need a six-pack too please...lol!!!
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Agreed. We need a couple more hours of that continued motion before anything "official".


Agreed..that makes good sense...:)
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2425. jpsb
Quoting MrstormX:
If models keep shifting to Texas, the media better keep up with it.
Ok, now I am going to go buy a six pack. All this talk about Texas, damn.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1196
2424. IKE
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


What a wave!
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2423. xcool
KEEP Watch Alex :0
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Quoting Levi32:


We have to see if the motion holds as a long-term trend. It's not a horribly significant deviation north of a lot of the model runs, so we can't say that it warrants a track change. The key will be what it does after emerging in the Gulf of Mexico. For now it is just something that should be monitored if it starts to ride the northern side of the guidance envelope.
Agreed. We need a couple more hours of that continued motion before anything "official".
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Alex is all most has big has IKE it all so some mode runs have a IKE like land fall
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2419. Levi32
Alex making landfall as we speak, likely a Cat 1 hurricane. Belize getting battered as the sun falls.



Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


I understand that... I was just stating my opinion on the system and I have backed it up with physical evidence and I understand that I may be wrong... what I do not like is how you are getting upset with my opinion here
I'm not getting upset with you, lol. It's all good.
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2417. xcool
Joanie38 LOL
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Quoting Levi32:


We have to see if the motion holds as a long-term trend. It's not a horribly significant deviation north of a lot of the model runs, so we can't say that it warrants a track change. The key will be what it does after emerging in the Gulf of Mexico. For now it is just something that should be monitored if it starts to ride the northern side of the guidance envelope.


Understood...thank you..:)
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
2415. Ossqss
Could the trough play a role in relocation of the COC and pull it Northwest? Seems the vort is increasing in the BOC. Just sayin ,such a big system that has relocated itself around already. Not so sure it has defined itself yet :)
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Quoting ElConando:


lol I'm highly aware of that. Plus ADT has issues with land interaction sometimes strengthening systems at landfall and a little beyond which is likely happening now. As before it has the weakening flag on. Now, it is off.
Just saying in general, lol.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting xcool:
Trough digging


Hehhehe xcool..you are surprising me every time! lol
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) utilizes longwave-infrared, temperature measurements from geostationary satellites to estimate tropical cyclone (TC) intensity. It just gives an estimate, and does not have final say.


I understand that... I was just stating my opinion on the system and I have backed it up with physical evidence and I understand that I may be wrong... what I do not like is how you are getting upset with my opinion here
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2411. Levi32
Quoting Joanie38:


Levi, does this change the track of Alex?


We have to see if the motion holds as a long-term trend. It's not a horribly significant deviation north of a lot of the model runs, so we can't say that it warrants a track change. The key will be what it does after emerging in the Gulf of Mexico. For now it is just something that should be monitored if it starts to ride the northern side of the guidance envelope.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
Quoting xcool:
AL, 01, 2010062700, , BEST, 0, 175N, 881W, 50, 998, TS


Could be brought down to 60mph at the 11pm or 10CDT advisory.
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Good evening. Thoughts and prayers for the people living on the Yucatan peninsula tonight. Alex looks vicious on satellite.
Just hope everyone was warned and had plans to escape the heavy rains and flooding.

Been a busy day and still not done.
Will check in later but thinking about Alex and the people in its path.
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
I am not just basing it on ADT..

1. Recon found almost 60 knt winds last time they were in the system and sat appearance has strengthened since then.

2. Microwave data indicates we have a forming eyewall... although land interaction will quickly weaken it

3. yes ADT supports a Hurricane as well

4. it looks like in Belize City there is what appears to be light winds in the center of the circulation which would indicate a forming eye
The Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) utilizes longwave-infrared, temperature measurements from geostationary satellites to estimate tropical cyclone (TC) intensity. It just gives an estimate, and does not have final say.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Levi come on now, what are you seeing?


Levi aspires to be a scientist not a speculator.
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2406. xcool
Trough digging
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If models keep shifting to Texas, the media better keep up with it.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
ADT? Lol, the only way that Alex will be upgraded to a hurricane at this point is if a weather station on the ground reports sustained winds of an excess of 74mph. Just because ADT says it is a hurricane doesn't mean it is, actually far from it.


lol I'm highly aware of that. Plus ADT has issues with land interaction sometimes strengthening systems at landfall and a little beyond which is likely happening now. As before it has the weakening flag on. Now, it is off.
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2403. Levi32
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


A Texas hit is becoming more and more likely...


I know that will be said a lot every time Alex gains latitude, but no that is not necessarily true. Alex is still quite far to the south and much more to the south than model runs had it just 2 days ago, and even a lot of those runs had it going into Mexico. The key moment will be when it emerges in the Gulf of Mexico, when we will find out what steering currents are like, and if Alex will want to take a definitive motion in a particular direction.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
2402. xcool
Alex NOT DONE YET .
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Alex is HUGE! That is all. We better all hope and pray it doesn't turn north in the gulf.
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Levi come on now, what are you seeing?
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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.