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 jlp09550:


Latest imagery.
Seems to be firing some convection on the western side of the Yucatan.
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Strange still no report of landfall by NHC. NHC usually puts a special report on landfall. Unless they only do it on land falling systems in the United States.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3784
Quoting Snowlover123:


Based on the latest model guidance that came in, are you adjusting, or waiting?

I think the Euro will shift slightly North as well.



I'm waiting till tonights models, I'm looking for the center to relocate tomorrow. GFS, CMC, NAM have Alex headed to Texas, while other have it westward to Mexico. GFDL, NOGAPS, HWRF yet to come.. It'll be interesting to see what they show in a few minutes.
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Quoting Snowlover123:


Really? I came in here and there. Blog was as crazy as Rush Hour.

There were a lot of problems with people cursing and stuff during the afternoon. Also people started accusing Drak of being JFV because he said "teh" and he probably got banned, lol. It was a long day on Friday.
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Quoting Joanie38:


Well from what I have been reading and observing, I believe it might be the southern Texas coast...maybe Brownsville.


Same here. I think that most of the models will shift a little further north, because of the deepening of the trough to the west, and the ridge to the north. The ridge will move, and the trough will scoop up Alex and bring it to South Texas. South Padre Island, after getting totaled by Dolly of '08 need to keep a very close eye on Alex.

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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
Well there was a point where they were trending progressively further east...


Yes but
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
Well there was a point where they were trending progressively further east...


I don't recall a "trend" east although I didn't look at every run...the overall consensus from what I have seen went from around Alabama coast and trended west from there each day since invest designation. There was a split in consensus until recently where all models eventually shifted to a Mexico landfall.
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Quoting belizeit:
I have to check other visible sattlite loops but i think i see a Eye if not than its a hot tower acsactly in the center on the latest image . Can anyone else see it


It's likely a hot tower as the convetion is dissipating a bit over land but looks as though it's quicky transferring some energy off of the coast.
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It is way too far away and not even within the GOM and people are asking for the all clear within their state. As history has shown us time and time again, models aren't reliable this far out! At this point in the season, you should have your evac plans together as well as your "hurricane bag" with all your important papers and clothes to last you a few days, as well as any supplies you might need. You should assume that any storm in the GOM can make its way toward you. It's standard operating procedures for living along the gulf coast.
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Quoting dziban303:
No, you guys are goners. Kiss your ass goodbye, etc.


THAT wasn't very nice...:(
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Latest imagery.
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If you slop all the models together then the tex-mex border is feasible.
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Quoting jasoniscoolman09:


Hard to believe this is a June Tropical Storm. Beautiful! :)
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Quoting gator23:


well, you know me.


For Frances and Jeanne I was at home. My job is disaster response. I worked Lilli, Charley, Frances, Ivan, Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike.
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Quoting reedzone:
My forecast from earlier this afternoon..

Photobucket


Based on the latest model guidance that came in, are you adjusting, or waiting?

I think the Euro will shift slightly North as well.

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Quoting Snowlover123:


Good Evening! What is your stance on Tropical Storm Alex? Do you think it'll become a Hurricane and make landfall in Texas? My bets are on Northern Mexico/Southern Texas.



Well from what I have been reading and observing, I believe it might be the southern Texas coast...maybe Brownsville.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Probably because a good 20% of people got banned.


Really? I came in here and there. Blog was as crazy as Rush Hour.

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Latest models:


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Quoting belizeit:
I have to check other visible sattlite loops but i think i see a Eye if not than its a hot tower acsactly in the center on the latest image . Can anyone else see it
Right before making landfall you could evidently see the beginnings of an eye. Doubt it has one now.
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Quoting Snowlover123:


The trough to the west has deepened as well. What does this all mean? A challenging forecast indeed.


In a word "vectors". The trough has to meet the Western edge of the ridge at just the right time when Alex is exiting in the BOC and regrouping in order for it to move further N.

Given the current position of Alex further S than forecasted the trough may have no effect at all. Another wait and see scenario.
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Quoting reedzone:
Alex looks to be making landfall right now, or just made landfall, which is why convection has warmed..



Holy carp - Campeche is getting HAMMERED.
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My forecast from earlier this afternoon..

Photobucket
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Quoting Joanie38:
Ok, I need an opinion from everyone plz...Do yall think SWLA is in the clear or do we still need to keep a very CLOSE watch on Alex?? Thank you in advance for the answers...:)


SW LA probably has a Less than 5% chance. Sorry... :(

-Snowlover123
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UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 26 JUN 2010 Time : 214500 UTC
Lat : 17:19:22 N Lon : 87:55:15 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.8 / 991.9mb/ 61.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.7 4.0 4.3

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +2.1mb

Center Temp : -74.4C Cloud Region Temp : -75.7C

Scene Type : UNIFORM CDO CLOUD REGION

Positioning Method : FORECAST INTERPOLATION

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

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 0.5T/hour
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
Quoting Snowlover123:


Lol, yeah, you're right.

Probably because a good 20% of people got banned.
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Quoting StormW:


At the moment, I think you're ok...the trof, should be short lived, with the ridge building back. At least that's the way I'm reading steering and water vapor.


Thank you AGAIN StormW..I ALWAYS look forward to reading your updates!!!
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
Blog has been unusually quiet today.. It was much more active around the time of 90L


I've noticed the blog has a tendency to die down after the invest we've been tracking actually develops.
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I have to check other visible sattlite loops but i think i see a Eye if not than its a hot tower acsactly in the center on the latest image . Can anyone else see it
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
Blog has been unusually quiet today.. It was much more active around the time of 90L


Lol, yeah, you're right.

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Belize, BH (Airport)
Updated: 3 min 57 sec ago
Rain
79 °F
Rain
Humidity: 100%
Dew Point: 79 °F
Wind: 9 mph from the WNW
Pressure: 29.53 in (Falling)
Visibility: 1.9 miles
UV: 1 out of 16
Clouds:
Mostly Cloudy 400 ft
Mostly Cloudy 7000 ft
Mostly Cloudy 25000 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 16 ft
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Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6069
Quoting kmanislander:


Here is why Alex moved back to due West after attempting the jog to the NW earlier. The ridge reinforced.



The trough to the west has deepened as well. What does this all mean? A challenging forecast indeed.
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Quoting belizeit:
Weather is getting bad here in Belize its been raining on and of all day but now we are starting to get heavy down pours . The wind is still light but increasing


Same here up the coast in QRoo except we have heavy boomers and heavy winds. Sea is angry like after Dean.
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Quoting gator23:


did you live in 2 different places? Gustav went to way different places than Jeanne and Frances


Yeah, northern side of both Frances and Jeanne . Working in Shreveport (northern edge again) for Gustav.
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Blog has been unusually quiet today.. It was much more active around the time of 90L
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting Joanie38:


Good Evening Snowlover..:)


Good Evening! What is your stance on Tropical Storm Alex? Do you think it'll become a Hurricane and make landfall in Texas? My bets are on Northern Mexico/Southern Texas.

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Quoting StormW:


At the moment, I think you're ok...the trof, should be short lived, with the ridge building back. At least that's the way I'm reading steering and water vapor.
Looks like you're going to be right.
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Quoting StormW:


That's why I never follow model guidance...I use the steering layers forecast maps, and various satellite channels


Here is why Alex moved back to due West after attempting the jog to the NW earlier. The ridge reinforced.

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Quoting StormW:


Possible combo of 1998, 2004, and 2008
Not liking that one...
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2056. xcool
Joanie38 .THANKS I TRY ALOT..
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Quoting xcool:
MODELS caught onto NW NOW.


xcool, I like your surprise comments :)
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Ok, I need an opinion from everyone plz...Do yall think SWLA is in the clear or do we still need to keep a very CLOSE watch on Alex?? Thank you in advance for the answers...:)
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2052. Ossqss
What are the odds we see the center relocate in the BOC and not traverse the land mass? Just curious :)
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I would not be shocked if this thing relocates ahead and then we have to throw all models out the window... and then I do not know what the NHC will do if that happens
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
the convection is already starting to increase on the other side of the peninsula


Looks like Alex is already setting up his moisture on the other side, probably trying to find a new place to relocate to once he weakens.
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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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