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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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.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
1398. Levi32
Quoting StormW:
Keep in mind gang...as Levi, Drak and I were pointing out when Alex first started, and this goes to that post of whoever kinda bad mouthed Doc Masters about the "active season" and that ALEX was a typical Atlantic system, typically developing in the Climo area for June....

Look at his size, size of the CDO (especially compared to the 2 PAC systems)...he ain't typical...remember, this is a TYPHOON Wanna be!

So, it could be different with him. Alex may just "eat" the Yucatan Peninsula just for spite.


Very intriguing to see this kind of a system in the Atlantic at all, much less in June.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
1397. Grothar
Quoting Levi32:


I'm interested to see how well it holds together over land. There's a lot of heat available that could help keep it organized if it doesn't spend too awful long in crossing the Yucatan. The pattern aloft is letting it breathe deeply so I don't expect it to just fall apart over land.


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?
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


I honestly have no clue where to get vortex data, while it was still wrong to chastise regardless, could you provide it to me?


Recon data

Use wisely lol
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Quoting StormW:
Keep in mind gang...as Levi, Drak and I were pointing out when Alex first started, and this goes to that post of whoever kinda bad mouthed Doc Masters about the "active season" and that ALEX was a typical Atlantic system, typically developing in the Climo area for June....

Look at his size, size of the CDO (especially compared to the 2 PAC systems)...he ain't typical...remember, this is a TYPHOON Wanna be!

So, it could be different with him.
Agree 100%. By the way, look at its CDO, it's still firing nasty convection and half of it is over land.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
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.
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Quoting StormW:


I think it may wait until it gets back out over water and strengthens again....unless land interaction disrupts the center in such a way that it jogs a little N.


Thanks for that StormW..:) I always read your blogs..:)
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
1392. WAHA
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Alex does not have an eye.

Oops! I meant the center of circulation...
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1390. Levi32
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I think he is saying that the strong feeder band to the north of Alex's circulation is breaking off.



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.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Quoting StormW:
Keep in mind gang...as Levi, Drak and I were pointing out when Alex first started, and this goes to that post of whoever kinda bad mouthed Doc Masters about the "active season" and that ALEX was a typical Atlantic system, typically developing in the Climo area for June....

Look at his size, size of the CDO (especially compared to the 2 PAC systems)...he ain't typical...remember, this is a TYPHOON Wanna be!

So, it could be different with him.


yup its Typhoon Alex lol
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have the HH completed there invest of TS Alex are we going to see any changes at 5pm this thing looks impressive
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


I love how people assume on here that everyone makes things up lol

of course some people do lol, but you would think those who chastise would actually check the facts before claiming people are making things up


I honestly have no clue where to get vortex data, while it was still wrong to chastise regardless, could you provide it to me?
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Regardless it is about to go over land so yes the weakening flog should be on.


We have about whipped this poor horse to death;)
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


I love how people assume on here that everyone makes things up lol

of course some people do lol, but you would think those who chastise would actually check the facts before claiming people are making things up
yeap
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1383. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128617
Quoting WAHA:
I just tracked Alex on Google Earth. And boy is it hard to find the eye!

Although the loop I was using wasn't a Dvorak loop...but I don't know where a dvorak loop for Google Earth is anyway. Can anyone redirect a link to download it?
Alex does not have an eye.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
I can't take it. Between the tropics and WC....I need another beer.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


I love how people assume on here that everyone makes things up lol

of course some people do lol, but you would think those who chastise would actually check the facts before claiming people are making things up
Lol, agree 100%.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Levi32:


That wave was consumed by Alex long ago.


nice call on that one Levi
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Quoting Levi32:


That wave was consumed by Alex long ago.
I think he is saying that the strong feeder band to the north of Alex's circulation is breaking off.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1377. WAHA
I just tracked Alex on Google Earth. And boy is it hard to find the eye!

Although the loop I was using wasn't a Dvorak loop...but I don't know where a dvorak loop for Google Earth is anyway. Can anyone redirect a link to download it?
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
It's based on the pressure decrease from the vortex messages. You can evidently see a NW jog if using Google earth.


I love how people assume on here that everyone makes things up lol

of course some people do lol, but you would think those who chastise would actually check the facts before claiming people are making things up
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1375. Levi32
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 wave was consumed by Alex long ago.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


That doesn't make any sense because the winds went up, the pressure went down, and the CI# went up lol.
Regardless it is about to go over land so yes the weakening flog should be on.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Thank you Storm
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Quoting SeALWx:


It's easy to be right when you try to cover all the options!


Ain't that the truth.
Member Since: July 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1163
Alex may very well go to Mexico, but it almost seems like a to good to be true scenario. (Not that I want anyone in Mexico to get hit). Just have to wait and see what the next update shows.
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:
Weakening flag on?

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

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 26 JUN 2010 Time : 184500 UTC
Lat : 17:27:30 N Lon : 86:40:29 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.8 / 991.5mb/ 61.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.6 3.3 3.3

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +1.7mb

Center Temp : -61.2C Cloud Region Temp : -62.7C

Scene Type : UNIFORM CDO CLOUD REGION

Positioning Method : FORECAST INTERPOLATION

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

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF


That doesn't make any sense because the winds went up, the pressure went down, and the CI# went up lol.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
1368. Patrap
ALEX www.hurricanecity.com/closeup
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128617
thanks Storm!
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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?
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Lets try this again...

Im pretty sure this was Alex two weeks ago. It was the wave behind the impressive 92L.
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Quoting reedzone:


I told you earlier that I felt the trough would be stronger. Right now, I'm sticking to northern Mexico/Texas border until I see an earlier northern movement on Alex.


Yep and based on the latest visible loop, it is taking a more northerly jog.
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1363. Levi32
Quoting Grothar:
This is realy impressive being so close to land



I'm interested to see how well it holds together over land. There's a lot of heat available that could help keep it organized if it doesn't spend too awful long in crossing the Yucatan. The pattern aloft is letting it breathe deeply so I don't expect it to just fall apart over land.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
1362. Patrap
18z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
ALEX
Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)






Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)






Early Model Wind Forecasts

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128617
1361. help4u
Are we all thinking what Storm w and Levi 32 thinking?Esp is taking over the board!
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Weakening flag on?

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

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 26 JUN 2010 Time : 184500 UTC
Lat : 17:27:30 N Lon : 86:40:29 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.8 / 991.5mb/ 61.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.6 3.3 3.3

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : 1.7mb

Center Temp : -61.2C Cloud Region Temp : -62.7C

Scene Type : UNIFORM CDO CLOUD REGION

Positioning Method : FORECAST INTERPOLATION

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

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SunnyDaysFla:
Storm and Levi

Come on guys--don't keep secrets

LOL!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Ts alex looks like a very strong TS borderline hurricane, that trough that is digging in arizona worries me looks like we may have a shift to the right in the computer models
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Quoting Grothar:
This is realy impressive being so close to land



it is indeed!
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Quoting Grothar:
This is realy impressive being so close to land

I'm seeing a northwestward jog. I know you must be thinking "Uh-oh!".
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Storm and Levi

Come on guys--don't keep secrets

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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


I get an image saying bandwidth exceeded


Me 2, upload on other sites like imageshack
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Quoting GetReal:



Oh NO!!! That trof is digging much deeper and harder into southern Arizona and NW Mexico, and coming east... That very well could be very, very interesting!?!


This blog will go ballistic.
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1351. Levi32
Quoting GetReal:



Oh NO!!! That trof is digging much deeper and harder into southern Arizona and NW Mexico, and coming east... That very well could be very, very interesting!?!


Lol GR.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
1350. SeALWx
Quoting reedzone:


I told you earlier that I felt the trough would be stronger. Right now, I'm sticking to northern Mexico/Texas border until I see an earlier northern movement on Alex.


It's easy to be right when you try to cover all the options!
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1349. Levi32
Quoting reedzone:


Tis has been my thinking, so I am thinking what you both are thinking... Gotta go for a while, great video btw.


Thanks :)
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652

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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.