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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1899. Joanie38
10:17 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Our local mets from Lake Charles had said that Alex is more than likely gonna pass us up due to the front from the north going southwards and that will push Alex away from us. Again..no one knows for sure, I am gonna wait til it goes into the GOM...that is IF it goes into the GOM...
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
1898. Dropsonde
10:17 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
18Z GFS
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 414
1897. jo336
10:17 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
I'm a first time poster from central florida, lurked for a long while before joining. Always check in here and there to see what's happening.
1896. RitaEvac
10:17 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Yucatan could maroon Alex NW, always seem to throw tropical systems off into different directions, we'll see
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9680
1895. Cavin Rawlins
10:16 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
The storm should gain latitude as the trough rides north of it. A deep layer ridge replaces the trough after it passes forcing Alex back west. I am a bit surprise that the models are giving this ridge alot of forcing power.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1892. MiamiHurricanes09
10:15 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting Weather456:
Alex has some of the best outflow I've seen with a cyclone in a long long time, but then again I haven't seen many.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1891. xcool
10:15 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
he stall rigth now imo imo & i see eye
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1888. RitaEvac
10:14 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Better start gaining Lattitude if it wants to even be partly in the Gulf
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9680
1887. hurricaster
10:14 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Anybody have a link to the 18Z GFS?
Member Since: July 22, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 109
1886. TexasHurricane
10:14 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting Claudette1234:
GFS 18Z moves the storm to Texas


link to that please...
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
1885. jaevortex
10:14 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting Weather456:
Alex could of easily become a hurricane before landfall, awesome sat presentations


My goodness Alex is the most beautiful tropical storm I've ever laid eyes on....
1884. MiamiHurricanes09
10:13 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


So Bonnie would be the reincarnated offshoot of Alex in this case. Are you sure it wouldn't just be extratropical/hybrid after entering into the Gulf Stream?
It can't properly feedback a tropical cyclone, so it just splits it up into 2. That's what the version 1 GFS and GFDL are doing. Anyways I don't recommend to use the GFDL or HWRF with another system that wasn't the one initialized.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1883. Claudette1234
10:13 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
GFS 18Z moves the storm to Texas
Member Since: July 21, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 552
1882. Cavin Rawlins
10:13 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1880. Cavin Rawlins
10:12 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Alex could of easily became a hurricane before landfall, awesome sat presentations

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1879. sarahjola
10:12 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
xcool- glad I'm not the only one:) what does this mean and how much of a trend does it need to make nhc rethink track?
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
1878. jaevortex
10:12 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting StormW:


Afternoon, Jae!

Afternoon Storm my love! How's the early evening treating you?
1877. RitaEvac
10:11 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
StormW think the models are going way too far west??
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9680
1876. beell
10:11 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Here is one look at the trough centered over the Great Lakes with some energy digging a little into the SE. No western trough. Nuttin' but ridge. If Alex would have came off the northern end of the Yucatan-mabe a different story.

Valid Wednesday 00Z


Link
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 145 Comments: 16919
1875. KeithInSoFL
10:11 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting Hurricanes101:
If you remember I clung to the ECMWF for days before insisting that Friday was the day for development and I never waivered

ECMWF has been dead on with this system


It did a good job later but early on when invest was designated, it had a major hurricane right over the oil spill.
Member Since: May 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 43
1874. xcool
10:10 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Jeff9641 old
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1872. StormGoddess
10:09 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Major convection over flood-stricken Guatemala.

Hopefully he will keep moving as fast as possible and move away from them soon.
Member Since: June 10, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 589
1871. RitaEvac
10:09 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting MississippiWx:


If it comes up and hits Texas because of that trof, I'll eat however much crow you guys can give me. However, despite what Storm and Levi were saying earlier, I just don't see how ALL of the models are missing the trof. Sure, the NAM is saying Central Texas, but it's the NAM. I can form a better forecast by using steering current maps than the NAM can form by using all of its data. I'm not so ignorant to believe in absolutes when it comes to the tropics, believe me. However, each model set comes in further SOUTH, not north. If we start seeing a model or two go north with each passing run, then I'll be more of a believer. As of now, a due west heading from Alex is destining it to a final landfall in Mexico.


I'll be dead honest I figured whatever trough was coming down would pull it towards TX or LA, still think models are going too far west, but if it does go on west I'm not complaining.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9680
1870. JDSmith
10:07 PM GMT on June 26, 2010


CMC 108HRS.
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 103
1867. Dropsonde
10:07 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
GFS 18Z is so far quite different from previous run. Stalls it out in the BOC ESE of Brownsville. I don't think TX can be said to be out of the woods just yet. (And no, I don't live in TX.)
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 414
1866. GeoffreyWPB
10:07 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
I never thought that Alex would take a Wilma-like track. In fact, I don't believe we will ever see an easterly componet to this storm.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11518
1865. xcool
10:07 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
sarahjola i see that too.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1864. MrstormX
10:07 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
GFS sure follows the GFDL, makes a low pressure area off of the Carolinas courtesy of Alex.

Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
1863. sarahjola
10:06 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
it looks to me that the coc is sitting just offshore. stalled? i like to look at the visible and zoom in real close. i think what i am seeing is the coc just offshore. i am not educated enough in weather to suggest that it is for sure, so please feel free to school me:)
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
1862. help4u
10:06 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Hurricanes 101,the new sheriff in town!!
Member Since: September 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1301
1861. AstroHurricane001
10:06 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting StormGoddess:
Looks like ALEX is touching the EPAC now and hopefully he has his "eyeballs" on it. Photobucket


Major convection over flood-stricken Guatemala.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
1860. TexasHurricane
10:05 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting Claudette1234:
uhmm i see GFS and not sure next land will be Mexico coast


why?
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
1859. MississippiWx
10:05 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting xcool:


Trough


If it comes up and hits Texas because of that trof, I'll eat however much crow you guys can give me. However, despite what Storm and Levi were saying earlier, I just don't see how ALL of the models are missing the trof. Sure, the NAM is saying Central Texas, but it's the NAM. I can form a better forecast by using steering current maps than the NAM can form by using all of its data. I'm not so ignorant to believe in absolutes when it comes to the tropics, believe me. However, each model set comes in further SOUTH, not north. If we start seeing a model or two go north with each passing run, then I'll be more of a believer. As of now, a due west heading from Alex is destining it to a final landfall in Mexico.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
1858. CybrTeddy
10:05 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
I've endured 14 days without power in Hurricane Isabel.. 10 (or 7, I don't remember) days in Jeanne.. don't recall I lost power in Charley for long (maybe a few hours) nor in Frances (lights may have flickered) your right.. post hurricane is horrid, except Wilma where cool temperatures and a nice wind followed with low humidity.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24552
1857. KoritheMan
10:05 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting PalmBeachWeatherBoy:
I know this is a off from the tropics chat we are having now but can someone help me find rain chances for july 4th?


Weather.com has a 10-day forecast.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 602 Comments: 21231
1856. SugaCane
10:05 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
That's a deep trough. But it needs to hurry to pick up Alex.

Quoting xcool:


Trough
Member Since: June 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 20
1854. xcool
10:04 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
opps
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1853. MiamiHurricanes09
10:04 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:


Yes you did good job! Hurricanes101 is one of the only ones who was right the whole time if not the only one.
No one did a good job, the ECMWF did. J/k.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1851. GeoffreyWPB
10:04 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Frances and Jeanne were inconveniences. Lost power for about 13 days, but no structural damage... Would sit in my car with the AC on to cool off. ..Wilma was the worse. Roof ripped off, lived in a motel for three months, had to rebuild the entire inside of the house. Thank God I had equity. I don%u2019t anymore, but I do have more than adequate insurance.

And the ironic part...I had power the next day after Wilma!
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11518
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


So Bonnie would be the reincarnated offshoot of Alex in this case. Are you sure it wouldn't just be extratropical/hybrid after entering into the Gulf Stream?


Looking like Bonnie to me... of course there is nothing there yet, so no immediate worry.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
1849. xcool
I SEE NW IMIMO
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684

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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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