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

Share this Blog
5
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 1349 - 1299

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75Blog Index

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: 26700
1348. Grothar
This is realy impressive being so close to land

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


Looks like the trough is splitting over Arizona. If that tail-piece gets to the east and helps weaken the high over the western gulf a little more, then yes I may be thinking what you are thinking.
Uh-oh.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Honestly looking at visible loops it does look as if Alex has jogged towards the northwest.

Alex - Visible Ramsdis Loop


Thats what I've been seeing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Let me see with 21 to 23 named storms predicted that should equate to a named storm per week for this season
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Im pretty sure this was Alex two weeks ago:



I get an image saying bandwidth exceeded
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1343. GetReal
Quoting StormW:


Trof, out west...looking deeper than earlier..you thinking what I may be thinking?




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!?!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


Looks like the trough is splitting over Arizona. If that tail-piece gets to the east and helps weaken the high over the western gulf a little more, then yes I may be thinking what you are thinking.


This has been my thinking, so I am thinking what you both are thinking... Gotta go for a while, great video btw.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Honestly looking at visible loops it does look as if Alex has jogged towards the northwest.

Alex - Visible Ramsdis Loop
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting StormW:


Trof, out west...looking deeper than eralier..you thinking what I may be thinking?


That thing has really dug down
It's gonna be close
I gotta hand it to you W you are the GOD of good resources and spotting things early that will have a effect on the situation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sarahjola:
i don't want to see it hit anybody. jmo. i stated that i think i see that and feel free to educate me on that.


I know and everybody sees, it, both the amateurs and the experts.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Oh, ok. Well I apologize for my last post because I was only basing my observations off of satellite and my untrained eye, which wasn't very smart haha.

Lol, that's ok.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
i don't want to see it hit anybody. jmo. i stated that i think i see that and feel free to educate me on that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Joanie38:


Hey StormW ! :) I have a question for you...Do you think Alex might have a chance to turn a bit more northward over the yucatan?? (Just curious..:) ) Been lurking for AWHILE! ..:)


I know the question isn't directed at me but yes, when its over land it weakens right? So when it does it typically shifts north, historically and climatologically speaking.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1334. Levi32
Quoting StormW:


Trof, out west...looking deeper than earlier..you thinking what I may be thinking?



Looks like the trough is splitting over Arizona. If that tail-piece gets to the east and helps weaken the high over the western gulf a little more, then yes I may be thinking what you are thinking.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting StormW:


Trof, out west...looking deeper than earlier..you thinking what I may be thinking?



A deeper trough means it might pull it north? When i see "Are you thinking what im thinking" I usually think its not good :P
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1330. txjac
So ...a pressure change indicates a shift?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1329. jpsb
Quoting txjac:
Storm ...Levi ...play fair now lol ...tell us all what you are thinking!
I bet there are thinking the trof in the west might affect Alex ...... north. Now it really is time for a beer.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1276
This little guy ain't doin' so good.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1327. ATL
Quoting StormW:


Trof, out west...looking deeper than earlier..you thinking what I may be thinking?


Don't say it for the sake of this blog ;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


Trof, out west...looking deeper than earlier..you thinking what I may be thinking?



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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


Trof, out west...looking deeper than earlier..you thinking what I may be thinking?



Storm, what you talking about???? Uh OH?
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 302 Comments: 40955
Quoting sailingallover:
On THIS BOARD!! NO WAY!!!! OMG!!!
It's based on the pressure decrease from the vortex messages. You can evidently see a NW jog if using Google earth.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1323. txjac
Storm ...Levi ...play fair now lol ...tell us all what you are thinking!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sailingallover:
On THIS BOARD!! NO WAY!!!! OMG!!!



rofl!
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 302 Comments: 40955
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


I hope to god your eyes are bad LOL jk


ha ha, I've got great vision. According to my doctors, mine is impressive!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


Hey Joanie!


Hey StormW ! :) I have a question for you...Do you think Alex might have a chance to turn a bit more northward over the yucatan?? (Just curious..:) ) Been lurking for AWHILE! ..:)
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
Quoting tropicfreak:
looking at the latest visible loop on Alex, it just started shifting north.


I hope to god your eyes are bad LOL jk
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
oh, thanks...
I am only looking at the water vapor and tropical floater infrared..and cannot see north movement...
due west is what I see..

but I have been wrong before! :o)
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 302 Comments: 40955
looking at the latest visible loop on Alex, it just started shifting north.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting weatherwatcher12:

It's based on the vortex messages not satellite.


Oh, ok. Well I apologize for my last post because I was only basing my observations off of satellite and my untrained eye, which wasn't very smart haha.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Me neither... I think some people are making up an illusion of what they want to see lol.
On THIS BOARD!! NO WAY!!!! OMG!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
94L is looking better and better if it keepsgoing we may have the B storm be for the weekend isout if not by then then may be by no later then tuesday
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Me neither... I think some people are making up an illusion of what they want to see lol.
Well the drop of pressure from 998mb-996mb showed NW motion.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
Does anyone have a loop showing this "big jog"? I really kinda doubt it and would like to see hehe.

do an extreme close up on visible. get really really close:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1309. Levi32
Quoting StormW:
Levi, you still around?


I are here.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting seflagamma:
been lurking a little and I just do not see your northward jog yet....

It's based on the vortex messages not satellite.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hello StormW...hope you are well..and of course very busy...:) Good to see you..:)

Joanie
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
Quoting seflagamma:
been lurking a little and I just do not see your northward jog yet....


Me neither... I think some people are making up an illusion of what they want to see lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting reedzone:


Naa.. not from Alex, but the next few waves coming from Africa could be interesting down the road.


It is moving northeast now but it can still change. All of the gulf coast bears watching.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
been lurking a little and I just do not see your northward jog yet....
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 302 Comments: 40955
1301. WxLogic
Quoting Levi32:
Dropsonde west of Florida at around 18:30z reveals a strong 500mb high with a geopotenial height of 5920 meters. The winds start shifting from easterly to SSW above 500mb which is indicating the outflow of Alex at the upper levels.



Quite an outflow... I can't even fathom how the Aug. and Sep. disturbances will look/behave with so much energy available to them.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting weatherwatcher12:

That's strange.


Their instruments are acting up.

Probably want to check on them
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1299. jpsb
Quoting StormW:


???????????????????????????????????????????????
yeah, beer time, will check back later to see if north movement component is for real.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1276

Viewing: 1349 - 1299

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75Blog Index

Top of Page

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.

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron