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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1599. IKE
Quoting seflagamma:


So it was not morning NE. I knew I could not see that happening on what I was looking at.

and now Texas is out...but I would not count on that 100% either, especially south Texas.

Wonder if land and the westward moving of Alex will be it's swansong?


It could be...although unlikely.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting GlobalWarming:
Miami, do you have a video of the WSVN Channel 7, Tracking the Tropics, music? I love that one, lol.
Nope.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting HurrikanEB:
Just popped in to say that I know everyone is having fun with Alex, but the latest loop of Celia over there reminds me of one of those cartoons where the character dies and you can see their spirit floating away :)

Celia Link

Wow.
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Quoting btwntx08:
like i said before lol they may shift north


Ah. The NAM. Perhaps it could...
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Channel 6 - Beaumont ,TX

Tropical Storm Alex has developed about 200 miles east of Belize in the northwestern Caribbean Sea. Alex has highest winds of 40 mph and is moving to the west-northwest about 8 mph. Alex should be near hurricane force when it reaches the southern Yucatan tonight. After landfall, Alex will cross the Yucatan Sunday and emerge in the Bay of Campeche Monday morning.

A ridge of high pressure will likely hold north of Alex and keep the storm on a track for eventual landfall south of Brownsville around the middle of the upcoming week.
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ooops on my last commet
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Quoting HurrikanEB:
Just popped in to say that I know everyone is having fun with Alex, but the latest loop of Celia over there reminds me of one of those cartoons where the character dies and you can see their spirit floating away :)

Celia Link


Awwww poor Celia.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting IKE:


Texas is out of the cone.


So it was not moving NE. I knew I could not see that happening on what I was looking at.

and now Texas is out...but I would not count on that 100% either, especially south Texas.

Wonder if land and the westward moving of Alex will be its swansong?

We have a bunch of young teenage boys here?
I had no idea! LOL
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Just popped in to say that I know everyone is having fun with Alex, but the latest loop of Celia over there reminds me of one of those cartoons where the character dies and you can see their spirit floating away :)

Celia Link
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Yeah. Levi was posting data from the recon and showed that there were warmer cloud tops in the center than outside of it.. Something was definitely going on there. Thank goodness for the Yucatan.


Lol, thank badness for the Yucatan!
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting kmanislander:
Looks like an eye was starting to form. You can see the warmer circle in the white.



Yeah. Levi was posting data from the recon and showed that there were warmer cloud tops in the center than outside of it.. Something was definitely going on there. Thank goodness for the Yucatan.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
WOW Alex center seems to be right on top San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize and just 9mph from becoming a hurricane, good thing it never had a 100-150miles left of ocean to work with!
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1585. xcool


hmm NW
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quoting GlobalWarming:


Is he from down there, Miami? If so, God bless him, let's hope he survives through the storm in one piece.


It's a TS.. He'll be in one piece. Hopefully he properly prepared for this. I assume a couple people will unfortunately be killed from the flooding. However there are over 300,000 people in Belize and as long as he took the proper preparations the chances of one of them being him is verrryy slim.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting Tazmanian:
well the USA is not out of the cone of DOOM


Lol.Mexico is in the cone of Doom. I give a less than 10% chance that it will impact Texas.

Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting btwntx08:
i wouldnt book on those models did u see the trough in az deepening i think the models may shift north again next run


hmmmm, we will see I guess. It seems to keep going more south though.
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1581. IKE
Quoting kmanislander:
Looks like an eye was starting to form. You can see the warmer circle in the white.



I see it too.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1580. WAHA
What's a troll?
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Quoting kmanislander:
Looks like an eye was starting to form. You can see the warmer circle in the white.



Yeah. Possibly.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting kmanislander:
Looks like an eye was starting to form. You can see the warmer circle in the white.

Oh wow. Poor thing. Lol.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
well the USA is not out of the cone of DOOM
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Well yay the site is working for me now. Come on, ALEX, make it to the EPAC! You can do it!Photobucket
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Yep, that's my thinking too.

(btw I dunno if you misread or are just making a general statement, but I never said it would strengthen. just saying this just incase)


just making a general statement. I said not necessarily in between.
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Looks like an eye was starting to form. You can see the warmer circle in the white.

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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Alex is in for a rough ride tonight.. but if the COC isn't disrupted to much there's room for strengthening the next few days over the Gulf.


I think it can possibly become a hurricane when it moves over the GOM.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
1571. ATL
Quoting louisianaweatherguy:
so with Alex staying in the Southern GOM, what type of swells can the Oil Spill affected area expect?? just curious...

Not a whole lot. Oil may be brought closer to shore in some areas due to wind, but the oil capturing op should be able to continue.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
As Alex makes landfall...

2010 TWC Tropical Update Music.



I liked their music better last year than this year. I like the graphics better this year than last year, though.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Alex is in for a rough ride tonight.. but if the COC isn't disrupted to much there's room for strengthening the next few days over the Gulf.
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Quoting GlobalWarming:


Is he from down there, Miami? If so, God bless him, let's hope he survives through the storm in one piece.
Yes he lives there.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting louisianaweatherguy:
so with Alex staying in the Southern GOM, what type of swells can the Oil Spill affected area expect?? just curious...


If it stays in the BOC the oil spill won't be affected too much, despite the size of the storm. thankfully
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
As Alex makes landfall...

2010 TWC Tropical Update Music.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting Snowlover123:


How exactly is someone a "troll" if they sign their name???


I didn't say that, Tropicfreak did...:)
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
Quoting Snowlover123:


How exactly is someone a "troll" if they sign their name???


I meant to say not all trolls. Some people who sign their name aren't trolls, as a matter of fact a fellow richmonder who is on wunderground signs his name, he stops by my blog every now and then to talk. Hes got a similar sense of humor to Patrap in fact.
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I'm thinking it's going to be a very active july,and august,and so on.
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Quoting EtexJC:
Definition of troll - Snookie from Jersey Shore.......


LOL!
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
1560. IKE
Quoting Snowlover123:


Same. Do you think it'll ever emerge over the GOM?


Probably, but I wouldn't be shocked if it didn't.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
so with Alex staying in the Southern GOM, what type of swells can the Oil Spill affected area expect?? just curious...
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Quoting tropicfreak:


It may not necessarily strengthen but the bands may keep alex alive.


Yep, that's my thinking too.

(btw I dunno if you misread or are just making a general statement, but I never said it would strengthen. just saying this just incase)
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
1557. Levi32
Quoting IKE:
I would say Alex is making landfall.....



According to radar it's moving over the Turneffe islands southeast of Belize City, but is not on the mainland yet.
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Quoting hurricanehanna:
Heya Storm. SO wait...there is a chance Alex could feel the trough and move more Northward?


slim to none based on how everything is looking right now down stream. Latest Guidance ive looked at continues to lower height anomalies across NE CONUS region which in terms leads to the weakness not being there. Here's your 18z model tracks.
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Quoting IKE:
I would say Alex is making landfall.....



Same. Do you think it'll ever emerge over the GOM?
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
1554. EtexJC
Definition of troll - Snookie from Jersey Shore.......
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
Alex is so giant, it's pulling moisture from all over the W Caribbean, the EPAC and the BOC/GOM soon. I'm not gonna go as far as saying it'll strengthen over land like Fay, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it only weaken to 50 mph.


It may not necessarily strengthen but the bands may keep alex alive.
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1550. IKE
I would say Alex is making landfall.....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting Joanie38:


LOL! It's okay..:) I am a lurker...sometimes a post-er..depending if I have a question or...not...:)


How exactly is someone a "troll" if they sign their name???
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699

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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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