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 StormW:


You and me both!


I just saw the vortex message with 56 knot surface winds. So close to Cat 1, only needed another few hours.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


thats the recon obs site, they already did the vortex though so it disappears


Oh, well I came on when Levi said they were going home early, so I probably couldn't have seen it if I tried, oh well.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting Levi32:


Yeah I see now....that was just off the top of my hat. I can't remember the one.
Tropical storm Christine in 1973 formed over land.

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http://icons-sf.wunderground.com/data/images/ep201005_sat_anim.gif

Darby is being sheared by Alex!

-Snowlover123
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1445. Grothar
Quoting StormW:


Could be close enough to affect the ridge (possibly) in about 36 hours. Alex would have to be around 50 kts to begin being fully affected by mid level steering.


Storm, notice the feature presently over California. Talk a little about that if you can. Repost your image. It might help many of us to understand what we are seeing. Come on now, I haven't asked a favor in a long time. LOL
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Quoting Levi32:


Not true, and that is not a tropical wave. Look at how big Alex is, as we have been saying comparable to a typhoon in the Pacific. That feeder band is expected to extend that far out from the center of the system. The tropical wave is gone.

Probably but I've never considered Alex to big just messy. after all it did form concurrently with a Low, The 'core" is small but not an issue. If it's a feeder band it won't break off.
If it's energy out of the the other wave it might. 6 hours will tell and chances are it's just alex being sloppy
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1443. Levi32
Quoting Grothar:


Look again, not even close.


Yeah I see now....that was just off the top of my hat. I can't remember the one.
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Quoting Levi32:


Dang, I love that picture.
I consider it as the most beautiful hurricane ever to develop.
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Huh? All I get from that link is that the recon is going north and is several degrees to the north of Alex. Then again, I don't know how to read half of the info on that page anyway haha.


thats the recon obs site, they already did the vortex though so it disappears
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Quoting StormGoddess:

The weakening flog. Yes, I agree. lol


Glad somebody got it. My humor is too off the wall for some.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting Grothar:


Look again, not even close.
Sarcasm flag on? Donna was classified right after emerging off of Africa by the Cape Verde islands.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
Alex is kicking Darby's butt with subsidence!
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
I didn't write down the blogger's name who posted this, but someone made a list of all the storm names this year and made a forecast for each one.

First storm down- BUST for this forecast.

"Alex: Alex will be a weak disturbance, as most Alex's frequently are. He will head North-East quickly through Florida as a weak tropical storm, then up the eastern seaboard. Alex's are typically not welcome in Alabama, Miss., Louisiana or Texas... so he will make a bee-line from Florida pan handle to North Carolina."


What is even more sad is we have had the name Alex only 2 times before this season; the 1st Alex was weak, but the one in 2004 was a Major Hurricane so he is even wrong on that point lol
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852 sammywammybamy "Last night you said United States...This morning you said Mexico...Now you're saying E Pacific...Where's the consistency?"

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. -- RalphWaldoEmerson
Fact always trumps theory. And when the facts on the ground change, the conjectures arising from those facts must also change.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
It was CycloneOz.


Stormkat or stormtop.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


Recon data

Use wisely lol


Huh? All I get from that link is that the recon is going north and is several degrees to the north of Alex. Then again, I don't know how to read half of the info on that page anyway haha.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
1432. amd
as something that i find a bit interesting, it looks like Alex will make landfall somewhere around 17.5 degrees north.

The BOC southern most point is 18.3 degrees north, and Alex needs to get to 19 degrees north to be in the BOC for an appreciable amount of time (at least a couple of days).

Basically, Alex needs to gain some latitude while over the Yucatan, or Alex will not be a substantial threat to anyone in the western coast of the gulf of mexico (NE mexico/SE Texas).
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:


Gilbert of Sept. 1988.

-Snowlover123
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1430. Levi32
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:


Dang, I love that picture.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


only happened once in the Atlantic Basin. 1973 Tropical Storm Christine and she never became more than a tropical storm


It actually was a depression over Africa.
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Quoting GetReal:
The size of Alex's circulation will assist the system in maintaining the core of the system. It will continue to tap the EPAC, the BOC and the NW Caribbean for the needed fuel. While the wind speeds may drop off to near 40 MPH, while over the Yucatan, I would not be surprised to see the core remain nearly intact. Alex is also moving at a faster speed than expected, which will decrease the time over the land mass.


That and it is now taking a jog to the NW which means even less time when you add the direction to the speed.
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1427. Grothar
Quoting Levi32:


Donna. I think, though she wasn't officially classified over land.


Look again, not even close.
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
I didn't write down the blogger's name who posted this, but someone made a list of all the storm names this year and made a forecast for each one.

First storm down- BUST for this forecast.

"Alex: Alex will be a weak disturbance, as most Alex's frequently are. He will head North-East quickly through Florida as a weak tropical storm, then up the eastern seaboard. Alex's are typically not welcome in Alabama, Miss., Louisiana or Texas... so he will make a bee-line from Florida pan handle to North Carolina."
It was CycloneOz.
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1425. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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1424. WAHA
Quoting StormW:


even though he is comparable to ALLEN in size,

Alex actually looks like a mini Wilma...heading the wrong way.
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Afternoon gang...looking like the Gulf Coast will be spared *crosses fingers*....hopefully any storm surge will be minimal and keep the oil from coming further inland.
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I didn't write down the blogger's name who posted this, but someone made a list of all the storm names this year and made a forecast for each one.

First storm down- BUST for this forecast.

"Alex: Alex will be a weak disturbance, as most Alex's frequently are. He will head North-East quickly through Florida as a weak tropical storm, then up the eastern seaboard. Alex's are typically not welcome in Alabama, Miss., Louisiana or Texas... so he will make a bee-line from Florida pan handle to North Carolina."
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Alex is going to zip over the narrow part of Yukatan and into Boc, just like forecast. imo
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Quoting StormW:


Very..even though he is comparable to ALLEN in size, the CDO and aerial coverage are stunning.
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1418. GetReal
The size of Alex's circulation will assist the system in maintaining the core of the system. It will continue to tap the EPAC, the BOC and the NW Caribbean for the needed fuel. While the wind speeds may drop off to near 40 MPH, while over the Yucatan, I would not be surprised to see the core remain nearly intact. Alex is also moving at a faster speed than expected, which will decrease the time over the land mass.
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1417. will45
Quoting IKE:


That is interesting looking.

That is exactly what one of the CMC runs was showing.
Member Since: July 18, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 994
1416. Levi32
Quoting Grothar:
A tropical storm forming while still over the African continent is not unheard of. That current system will have to be watched. It will be interesting to see what they determine on it. See if any of you know to what storm I am referring.


Donna. I think, though she wasn't officially classified over land.
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Quoting Levi32:


I knew that you weren't lol.
Lol.
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


We have about whipped this poor horse to death;)

The weakening flog. Yes, I agree. lol
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1413. IKE
Quoting sailingallover:
On VISIBLE it looks like the wave that was following 93L/Alex has broken off and is heading North!! Watch out for that one!! Anybody else see this?


That is interesting looking.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting Grothar:
A tropical storm forming while still over the African continent is not unheard of. That current system will have to be watched. It will be interesting to see what they determine on it. See if any of you know to what storm I am referring.


only happened once in the Atlantic Basin. 1973 Tropical Storm Christine and she never became more than a tropical storm
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what is also intresting is look at the colors of the thuderstorms on the IR they are symetrical typical of a strong hurricane ( which its not) i am very impressed with this system and how its still firing strong thunderstorms over land
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1410. Levi32
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I never said it was, just looked like that is what he was saying. But yeah you're right, as usual...


I knew that you weren't lol.
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Does anyone have reports on what is happening in Belize.
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1408. Levi32
Quoting sailingallover:
Maybe I'm crazy but this looks like the following wave never fully merged and has broken off. To big and not connected enough to be a feeder.


Not true, and that is not a tropical wave. Look at how big Alex is, as we have been saying comparable to a typhoon in the Pacific. That feeder band is expected to extend that far out from the center of the system. The tropical wave is gone.
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1407. will45
If Alex goes north i want my crow baked please
Member Since: July 18, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 994
Quoting Levi32:


That does not happen. That spiral band is expanding northward under the upper high, and there is currently a void of sinking air between that band and Alex's CDO, making it appear that it is separating from the system, but that doesn't happen. The system is simply quite large, and you will see spiral feeder bands extending quite far from the center.
I never said it was, just looked like that is what he was saying. But yeah you're right, as usual...
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Quoting StormW:
What Levi and I are speaking of gang is, on the following water vapor loop, look out by the four corners region...the tail of that trof appears to be deepening at the moment. If it continues to do so, and moves in the fashion it is, it may weaken the ridge enough to give Alex a tug northward...however, for him to fully feel it, he would almost have to regain strength to be steered my mid layer steering, as water vapor imagery is indicative of what is approximately happening at the 500mb level in the atmosphere.



Do you know when it will reach the edge of the ridge? And how deep would alex be to feel mid layer steering?
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
1403. Grothar
A tropical storm forming while still over the African continent is not unheard of. That current system will have to be watched. It will be interesting to see what they determine on it. See if any of you know to what storm I am referring.
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1402. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting Levi32:


That does not happen. That spiral band is expanding northward under the upper high, and there is currently a void of sinking air between that band and Alex's CDO, making it appear that it is separating from the system, but that doesn't happen. The system is simply quite large, and you will see spiral feeder bands extending quite far from the center.

Im not saying it's a feeder. I'm saying it "might" be that wave the was behind 93L.
Feeders don't break off.
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Quoting Crawls:


Where can I find a story on this?
Uh... just google it. There are hundreds of stories on it. Here's one:

http://blogs.alternet.org/grantlawrence/2010/06/25/612/

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1399. Levi32
Quoting Grothar:


Neither do I. I am still watching for anything coming from the North. It could change things if Alex stays stronger than expected. If it is this strong, it could hold itself pretty good. Interesting to see?


Indeed.
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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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