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 MrNatural:


Looks like a flare up in the feeder band, and not an actual relocation of Alex.



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
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2397. xcool
AL, 01, 2010062700, , BEST, 0, 175N, 881W, 50, 998, TS
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Quoting Levi32:
Checking in for a sec...appears Alex has turned northwest a little bit, which is what the recon vortex messages suggested it was doing earlier. It is a bit north of the NHC forecast. We'll have to see if this motion will continue in the long term. If it does, this angle of entry will take Alex over the Yucatan fairly quickly.


Levi, does this change the track of Alex?
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
Anyone seeing that sudden NW jog?
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2393. xcool
Levi32 .;)
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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
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2391. IKE
Alex has only come north about 240 miles since it started some 1,200 miles east.
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Quoting Joanie38:
hmmm..looking at the satellite imagery..it looks to be moving NW now..if it didn't soon it would have never made to to the BOC...



It does appear to be moving NW now, but I'm wondering if it's just a wobble...
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2389. Levi32
Checking in for a sec...appears Alex has turned northwest a little bit, which is what the recon vortex messages suggested it was doing earlier. It is a bit north of the NHC forecast. We'll have to see if this motion will continue in the long term. If it does, this angle of entry will take Alex over the Yucatan fairly quickly.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


the only thing I disagree with here is you are forgetting if that happens then we will likely have a relocation of the center into that blob of convection that is already in the BOC


Looks like a flare up in the feeder band, and not an actual relocation of Alex.
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2387. xcool
WOW THANKS PAT
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


that is my opinion
Isn't it being based on ADT? ADT is only for satellite presentation and has no act on a system becoming a hurricane.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2385. Patrap
Well dat's a Horse of a tad different color..

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: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128874
Quoting ElConando:


ADT doesn't really have much say at this point in the middle of the Atlantic sure, but recon is more reliable at this point at least to the NHC.
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.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Who is saying that this is a hurricane?


ADT, but based on ADT alone it will not be upped to a hurricane at this point in time.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Who is saying that this is a hurricane?


that is my opinion
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Quoting aspectre:
TropicalStorm Alex prepares for landing at BelizeInternationalAirport (BZE).

Copy&paste 28.7n88.4w, TAM, MOB, PBI, SAL, 16.9N84.9W, 17.0N85.3W, 17.3N86.1W, 17.5N87.2W, 17.3N87.8W-17.4N88.1W, BZE into the GreatCircleMapper.
The red line shows the heading based on the last two positions. Below the map shows:
TSAlex's center had a heading of 289.2degrees (WestNorthWest),
and traveled a distance of ~21miles* (~34kilometres) over three 3hours.

Though TSAlex's mass is moving at 8mph, its 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.

* The Earth is a slightly oblate spheroid -- a "squashed ball" -- and the site uses that official navigational geometry before rounding off its calculations.


Interesting.. that SHOULD help disrupt it, but given Alex's large size, I'm not sure the Yucatan will disrupt it much at all.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
me thinks we have a hurricane here... post season analysis will indicate that a hurricane made landfall tonight(only because by 11 PM the storm will be inland so they will keep current intensity)
Who is saying that this is a hurricane?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting ElConando:


ADT doesn't really have much say at this point in the middle of the Atlantic sure, but recon is more reliable at this point at least to the NHC.


I agree, they won't upgrade it based on ADT alone.
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2378. IKE
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2377. xcool



hmmm NW ILOVE USED THIS IMAGE
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


By 11PM they will probably go as far as to weaken it too. It doesn't really matter to me if they do it or not, but is it possible for them to release a special advisory to upgrade it?


I do not think they will... not with a landfalling system right now... it will weaken within a few hours and so far no wind of over hurricane force has been found on the ground level
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Wow, according to ADT we have Hurricane Alex, but NHC won't say anything about it.


ADT doesn't really have much say at this point in the middle of the Atlantic sure, but recon is more reliable at this point at least to the NHC.
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
me thinks we have a hurricane here... post season analysis will indicate that a hurricane made landfall tonight(only because by 11 PM the storm will be inland so they will keep current intensity)


By 11PM they will probably go as far as to weaken it too. It doesn't really matter to me if they do it or not, but is it possible for them to release a special advisory to upgrade it?
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
hmmm..looking at the satellite imagery..it looks to be moving NW now..if it didn't soon it would have never made to to the BOC...
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
Quoting MrNatural:
I continue to be skeptical on Alex actually reaching the GOM. It's not easy being on this side of the fence, but I call as I see them. Win some, lose some. When compared to the models for the past day or so, Alex's path has consistently been to the south and west of most of the model runs. It now appears that the models are actually catching up on what is happening. With an almost due west direction for the next day or two, it's debatable whether any change in direction North would be sufficient to get to the GOM.


the only thing I disagree with here is you are forgetting if that happens then we will likely have a relocation of the center into that blob of convection that is already in the BOC
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TropicalStorm Alex prepares for landing at BelizeInternationalAirport (BZE).

Copy&paste 28.7n88.4w, TAM, MOB, PBI, SAL, 16.9N84.9W, 17.0N85.3W, 17.3N86.1W, 17.5N87.2W, 17.3N87.8W-17.4N88.1W, BZE into the GreatCircleMapper.
The red line shows the heading based on the last two positions. Below the map shows:
TSAlex's center had a heading of 289.2degrees (WestNorthWest),
and traveled a distance of ~21miles* (~34kilometres) over three 3hours.

Though TSAlex's mass is moving at 8mph, its 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.

* The site uses the official navigational geometry of Earth as a slightly oblate spheroid (a "squashed ball") before rounding off its calculations.
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Quoting reedzone:


THAT right there shows that Alex is moving right on track so far, not on your line.. Look closely at the image and the forecast points.. The center is moving north of due west.


My bad. You are right.
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Quoting IKE:
Belize is at 17.5N and 88.2W.

NHC coordinates for Alex are 17.4N and 88.1W. That's only 6 miles away!

The winds... 9 mph from the West...WTH? The eye?



There could be a cloud covered partially formed eye.
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I continue to be skeptical on Alex actually reaching the GOM. It's not easy being on this side of the fence, but I call as I see them. Win some, lose some. When compared to the models for the past day or so, Alex's path has consistently been to the south and west of most of the model runs. It now appears that the models are actually catching up on what is happening. With an almost due west direction for the next day or two, it's debatable whether any change in direction North would be sufficient to get to the GOM.
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me thinks we have a hurricane here... post season analysis will indicate that a hurricane made landfall tonight(only because by 11 PM the storm will be inland so they will keep current intensity)
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 26 JUN 2010 Time : 231500 UTC
Lat : 17:22:12 N Lon : 88:09:35 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
4.0 / 989.1mb/ 65.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
4.0 4.0 4.0

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +2.1mb

Center Temp : -64.2C Cloud Region Temp : -70.0C

Scene Type : EMBEDDED CENTER CLOUD REGION

Positioning Method : FORECAST INTERPOLATION

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

****************************************************




Hurricane??????


Wow, according to ADT we have Hurricane Alex, but NHC won't say anything about it.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
2364. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting seflagamma:


hummm yes it does.. that was a cool link , Skye!


Thanks..MIMIC is great. It always keeps the storm centered. So like the last few frames were the grid falls off to the SE the movement is obvious. It's also more real time than the SSD satelitte. So where I think were seeing change in direction many watching the 45 min old version is saying it's still headed due west.
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2363. xcool
Thundercloud01221991 wow.
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery at CIMSS


Yup, and you can access it anytime from the CIMSS home page by looking at the top bar of links and going to Our Research and you can find SAL, ADT, MIMIC, and more useful things.

# TC Image Gallery
# Who We Are
# Our Research
# Archive
# FAQ
# Links
# Contact Us
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
2361. IKE
Belize is at 17.5N and 88.2W.

NHC coordinates for Alex are 17.4N and 88.1W. That's only 6 miles away!

The winds... 9 mph from the West...WTH? The eye?

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 26 JUN 2010 Time : 231500 UTC
Lat : 17:22:12 N Lon : 88:09:35 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
4.0 / 989.1mb/ 65.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
4.0 4.0 4.0

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +2.1mb

Center Temp : -64.2C Cloud Region Temp : -70.0C

Scene Type : EMBEDDED CENTER CLOUD REGION

Positioning Method : FORECAST INTERPOLATION

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

****************************************************




Hurricane??????
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


Hey Hank
You getting any heavy weather?


Too bad Tom Brokaw left down this morning at 9am....he could have done some Jim Cantori style reporting
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Quoting KeithInSoFL:


THAT right there shows that Alex is moving right on track so far, not on your line.. Look closely at the image and the forecast points.. The center is moving north of due west.
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Yeah I did. Small typo, sry!

It's all good, we're human. :)
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OTHER THEN Alex WHAT DO MODE RUNS SHOW
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


Hey Hank
You getting any heavy weather?

Hi there, quieted down quite a bit for now, but earlier in day we had gusts up to 41 mph with heavy squalls and experienced tropical storm conditions for about an hour straight and it was hundreds of miles from us, sure wouldn't wanted this to become a TS South of Jamaica for sure, lets put it this way, we got all of Alex that we needed, didn't need a bit more.
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2354. IKE
Winds should start shifting back around when the COC of Alex passes Belize....

Belize, BH (Airport)
Updated: 21 min 30 sec ago
Rain
79 °F
Rain
Humidity: 100%
Dew Point: 79 °F
Wind: 9 mph from the West
Pressure: 29.51 in (Falling)
Visibility: 1.9 miles
UV: 0 out of 16
Clouds:
Mostly Cloudy 600 ft
Mostly Cloudy 7000 ft
Mostly Cloudy 25000 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 16 ft
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2353. jpsb
Quoting sammywammybamy:
Megacane!
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2352. amd
Quoting Skyepony:


I've westcasted this a few days away from the oil. MX or TX has been hard to say til we see where it exits Yucatan. Tip of Yucatan has had -90 cloud tops or close at night regular last few months. It's that vs the pull from the EPAC..been drawing alot there. The last several MIMIC frames were NW.


same here. I've been an ECMWF-caster (a final landfall in NE Mexico) for the past few days. I do find it interesting that Alex has been pulled by the waters from the far eastern pacific, especially since there is a 13000 feet mountain range separating the two basins.

Right now, I'm 50/50 on whether Alex even makes it into the BOC long enough to recover from the Yucatan.
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2351. Patrap
Belize radar loop
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2350. IKE
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

I assume you mean mph. 65 kts would make Alex a hurricane.


Yeah I did. Small typo, sry!
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237

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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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