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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1749. Patrap
Quoting IKE:


True.

First off I hate not having electricity. I would go crazy without AC for days or weeks.


In 2005 Ike..we lost approx 50 % to the Water,..50 % to the Heat first 7 days post Storm.

Its the toll taker for the very young,and elderly.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tazmanian:
94L may be come a name storm



95L would be next
Nice counting Taz! lol
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3619
Quoting GetReal:
Interesting water vapor loop of North America


This view shows just how far south that trof extends into Old Mexico.
wow, look at the fighure 8 over la/tx. do you see it.
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1293
1746. IKE
Quoting Floodman:


I will say this: the genuine scientist types around here stay calm and even toned...they make their observations and give their predicitons on a fairly regular pace...the "weather kiddies" get strident and post once every 30 seconds...LOL


That's true too....I bet I've read 1,000 posts about Alex being a TD by...or a TS by...or a hurricane by....

I'm guilty of that too, but in moderation.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting Floodman:


For me it was being 5 and watching a tornado take out the block behind my house...14 more tornados, 2 hurricanes and numerous TS, TD and supercells later I'm still thrilled, but not as apt to runout in the yard and watch
Hey Flood,good seeing you. So 20 yrs after running into the yard you have learned to keep your distance.....
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1743. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Patrap:
93L has that Wet big Dowser CDO on the South Side KOTG.

flooding rains pat lotsa water
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Okay, "reedzone" is most likely more reliable than computer models and the experts at the NHC. You put your money on him and I'll take the NHC.


I could darn easily be wrong, but so can the NHC. NOthing is written in stone. First we need to see if Alex goes off the Yucatan and see which direction it moves.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7387
Quoting KoritheMan:


Okay, well almost every weather enthusiast. :P

But I seriously think some of you guys need to remember this. The majority of us got interested in meteorology due to some sort of significant (or seemingly significant) meteorological phenomena. And because of that, we will occasionally desire to see more of the same.

My interest started with Isidore. To this day, I still love sitting outside watching a moderate tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane.

Do I wish harm on anyone? No. In fact, I was feeling sickly about Alex possibly affected the oil spill. But the possibility was there... for awhile.
I've been fascinated by TS/hurricanes since I was a kid. I remember the excitement of going under the warnings and having to run around to get stuff done in preparation. But the best was getting time out of school. It was all just great because we never got hit hard enough to cause serious widespread issues....until Ivan. Now when warnings are issued, instead of getting excited to get days off of school or getting to watch the stormy weather through the window, I dread that it will be a repeat of Ivan. You live and you learn.
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1739. IKE
Quoting CosmicEvents:

C'mon...you've been around here for years. You see how the pure scientists interested in cyclogenisis come out with thousands of posts when a cyclone is potentially threatening the US.
..
Mysteriously, once the potential moves away from the US, the post count goes down by thousands.
.
Sad. But, in this case...it's great news that we're not going to have a cyclone affecting the oil effort.


That is true.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1738. dxdy
What is the possibility of the "Fujiwara Effect" of Darby and Alex happening?
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hey, zoomiami...long time!
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GFDL developes subtropical low off of Apalachacola July 30

Link
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1734. Patrap
93L has that Wet big Dowser CDO on the South Side KOTG.




Hopefully it will collapse inland tonight. But Im concerned as that Envelope creeps ever so more Wnw ..

We can still get a collapsing Southern Vortex and nuther one ,..well..

I wont go there just yet
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1733. xcool
reedzone good one.i see nw too
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
My forecast AND the NHC forecast are NOT written in stone. Both of our forecasts could be wrong. Models are not gods, they are guides and I feel they are initializing the trough weaker then it actually is. Just my opinion..
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7387
Quoting CosmicEvents:

C'mon...you've been around here for years. You see how the pure scientists interested in cyclogenisis come out with thousands of posts when a cyclone is potentially threatening the US.
..
Mysteriously, once the potential moves away from the US, the post count goes down by thousands.
.
Sad. But, in this case...it's great news that we're not going to have a cyclone affecting the oil effort.


I will say this: the genuine scientist types around here stay calm and even toned...they make their observations and give their predicitons on a fairly regular pace...the "weather kiddies" get strident and post once every 30 seconds...LOL
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1730. GetReal
Interesting water vapor loop of North America


This view shows just how far south that trof extends into Old Mexico.
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Quoting btwntx08:

who said i was wiahing not wishing nothin just that i feel the ecmwf maybe wrong in its path and besides it wouldnt be that strong if were to hit here...reedzone maybe right


Okay, "reedzone" is most likely more reliable than computer models and the experts at the NHC. You put your money on him and I'll take the NHC.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10244
1728. IKE
Quoting WPBHurricane05:


Most of them wanting a hit are young. They don't have to worry about bills, insurance, etc. Once they get their house I'm sure the thrill of a hurricane hitting there house will not be there.


True.

First off I hate not having electricity. I would go crazy without AC for days or weeks.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting seflagamma:
Actually no, I do not want to be hit again...
Wilma cost us $10,000 out of our own pocket that was not covered by anything...and our home was not damaged...that was just damage to yard and fences and having tree roots dug up by big cranes, etc.

my hubby is self employed and he lost 2 weeks of work because no power at his shop...
and my work reopened immediately so I could not even stay home to help clean up the mess.. and had to take cold showers getting ready for work...

I am ok not being hit anymore in my lifetime.

Plus have been swipped by many besides Wilma over the past 31 years living here in the Ft Lauderdale area...



Amen Gamma! Living on the West coast of FL and having lived through Charley and Wilma I could live the rest of my life without ever experiencing another. Anyone who thinks a hurricane is 'fun' or 'cool' has not suffered the aftermath of one. Not only do you suffer monetarily, the emotional upheaval involved is tremendous as well. Just ask the folks in NOLA.
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I have noticed over the past years that the activity on the blog is the wondering when and where -- once that happens its gets very quiet.

I don't know that people wish it would hit them -- but its the wondering if there might be a chance. L

Hi gamma!
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Quoting helove2trac:
IMO i dont think people want death and destruction on anyone its just the thrill of a storm heading their way people tend to get excited about the preparations and things nobody wants people to die from a storm but it happens and not because someone wishes it


you have a point, it is sort of exciting in a "sick" sort of way all of you understand...

but like Ike said, once it gets too close to home.. you start dreading all the work and money it will cost you personally that will come from a storm in your area.
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1723. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Patrap:
a lot of water this evening fallin on belize and areas west lets hope it disrupts quickly
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i want a cat 15 too hit me i want to se a hurricane nevere been in one befor
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Holding strong on my forecast, especially if Alex restrengthens, borderline of USA/Mexico, mainly Northern Mexico. Alex should be able to lift north do to the trough, then steers westward by a building ridge.

Photobucket
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7387
1710. The house my parents own is a flat top house and lost a third of the tiles during Wilma. Cost 20k to repair the minor roof damage and replace all the tiles. They still had to pay 11k of it.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Okay, well almost every weather enthusiast. :P

But I seriously think some of you guys need to remember this. The majority of us got interested in meteorology due to some sort of significant (or seemingly significant) meteorological phenomena. And because of that, we will occasionally desire to see more of the same.

My interest started with Isidore. To this day, I still love sitting outside watching a moderate tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane.

Do I wish harm on anyone? No. In fact, I was feeling sickly about Alex possibly affected the oil spill. But the possibility was there... for awhile.


For me it was being 5 and watching a tornado take out the block behind my house...14 more tornados, 2 hurricanes and numerous TS, TD and supercells later I'm still thrilled, but not as apt to runout in the yard and watch
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
IMO i dont think people want death and destruction on anyone its just the thrill of a storm heading their way people tend to get excited about the preparations and things nobody wants people to die from a storm but it happens and not because someone wishes it
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Every weather enthusiast wants a storm to hit them. They'd never admit to it publicly, though.


That is so very true and true for 99.9% of the blog.
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Quoting Floodman:


I'm amazed at the people that want to get hit...are they new, or something?

C'mon...you've been around here for years. You see how the pure scientists interested in cyclogenisis come out with thousands of posts when a cyclone is potentially threatening the US.
..
Mysteriously, once the potential moves away from the US, the post count goes down by thousands.
.
Sad. But, in this case...it's great news that we're not going to have a cyclone affecting the oil effort.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1712. MScasinojunkie 9:28 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
Quoting Tazmanian:
1673. MScasinojunkie 9:19 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
What happened to 94L?


still there


its not on the tropical/hurricane page - is it no longer being tracked?



still on the navy site
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My personal for fun track cone has it getting into the BOC for about a day before hitting Mexico again. I'd put intensity in that before second land fall at just over TS strength. Buts that's all speculation for now. I am expecting it to resume a WNW movement soon but land can bring its own movement into play. Heck it would send it for a long NNW jog as soon as it landfalls.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
1673. MScasinojunkie 9:19 PM GMT on June 26, 2010
What happened to 94L?


still there


its not on the tropical/hurricane page - is it no longer being tracked?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Floodman:


Man, I've had mine...if I have another coming someone else can take my turn


Okay, well almost every weather enthusiast. :P

But I seriously think some of you guys need to remember this. The majority of us got interested in meteorology due to some sort of significant (or seemingly significant) meteorological phenomena. And because of that, we will occasionally desire to see more of the same.

My interest started with Isidore. To this day, I still love sitting outside watching a moderate tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane.

Do I wish harm on anyone? No. In fact, I was feeling sickly about Alex possibly affecting the oil spill. But the possibility was there... for awhile.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Actually no, I do not want to be hit again...
Wilma cost us $10,000 out of our own pocket that was not covered by anything...and our home was not damaged...that was just damage to yard and fences and having tree roots dug up by big cranes, etc.

my hubby is self employed and he lost 2 weeks of work because no power at his shop...
and my work reopened immediately so I could not even stay home to help clean up the mess.. and had to take cold showers getting ready for work...

I am ok not being hit anymore in my lifetime.

Plus have been afected by many others others besides Wilma over the past 31 years living here in the Ft Lauderdale area...

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1708. IKE
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
ECMWF is one heck of a model. We'll have to see if that latches onto that beastly african wave.


I do not recall the ECMWF in 2009 showing wave after wave moving west, like it's showing this afternoon.

All of these experts can't be wrong, who are forecasting an active season. Plenty of more storms to worry with soon.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting GlobalWarming:


It already does, lol. go see it for yourself. Ike, plz post the link for this good old blogger of ours.


Really? Ok I really gotta check this out, because first there was model support, then I heard there wasn't, then I here the ECMWF is onto it which to me counts as 6 models XD
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Though I do understand that people love feeling rain hitting your face at 80+ mph....that's not my thing though.
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Quoting earthlydragonfly:


You just cant fix stupid Quote: Ron White... Comedian


Yeah, it tends to run clean through
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94L may be come a name storm



95L would be next
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Quoting btwntx08:

?????


I really hope you're not trying to deny the fact that you've been wishing a storm upon yourself. You said you were following the "models" moving back up north. I've seen ONE model move north and that is the NAM, an extremely unreliable model. The EURO probably has this one correct again. Don't think just because there is a trof digging down in the 4 corners region that Alex will automatically go north of the forecast track. Do you think the models don't take that into consideration? Stop wishing death and destruction on your city.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10244
Quoting IKE:


It's always been that way since I've been on here.

I'll admit I have a thrill to see a tropical system UNTIL it gets about 48 hours from affecting me and then I want no part of it. Don't need it.

Life is easier this evening without the worry of Alex.


Most of them wanting a hit are young. They don't have to worry about bills, insurance, etc. Once they get their house I'm sure the thrill of a hurricane hitting there house will not be there.
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Quoting Floodman:


I'm amazed at the people that want to get hit...are they new, or something?


You just cant fix stupid Quote: Ron White... Comedian
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Every weather enthusiast wants a storm to hit them. They'd never admit to it publicly, though.


Man, I've had mine...if I have another coming someone else can take my turn
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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.