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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3548. guygee
Quoting emguy:
Saw some good comments on DMAX and DMIN here...Also good to note that DMAX at night pertains to tropical systems over water, DMAX for systems over land (i.e. afternoon thunderstorms) occur during the day. There may be continued strong convection over Alex through the night, but the typical DMAX/MIN rules will not apply now that he's over land.
I would add that although the nightime Dmax doesn't help Alex's convection over land, it will still add some punch to the convection in the convergence bands still over water.
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3547. uplater
Quoting chrisale:


Two questions:

1: Is it me or is Alex influencing an abnormally large amount of real estate? It just seems gigantic.

2: Is it spinning off the potential for another hurricane on the East side in the above anim (3526)?


Burst of S. convection still very much part of Alex, IMO.

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Quoting atmoaggie:
Just mocking the silent "H" in the Humble, for no good reason at all.

ad fun when my brother played the orn in the marching band at umble igh school...


lol
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3545. xcool
across the Yucatan lol wow
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Quoting sarahjola:
no the model i looked at was for alex. i didn't post any models, just stated that gfs did the same thing as mm5fsu-gfs did. i don't know what plot has nov. in the date at the top.:)
Not sure where you are getting updated info for mm5fsu-gfs, is what I mean. All I see is last November.
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3542. xcool
GlobalWarming hey
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Good Night everyone..thanks for all the info/maps/discussions, etc. C ya tamara!
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Quoting KoritheMan:


And here I thought my aunt was the only one who pronounced Houston without the "H".

It must be something typical of south Texas residents...
Just mocking the silent "H" in the Humble, for no good reason at all.

ad fun when my brother played the orn in the marching band at umble igh school...
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3538. will45
Quoting Hurricanes101:


track does not change on intermediate advisories
ok i thot the intermediate advisory was at !00
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3537. 1965
Quoting TexasHurricane:


update looks to be the same....

Doesn't change on the intermediates.
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3536. xcool
chrisale just image
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3535. 1965
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Dear, I think that's from Ida. Last Nov in the date at the top of the plot.
no the model i looked at was for alex. i didn't post any models, just stated that gfs did the same thing as mm5fsu-gfs did. i don't know what plot has nov. in the date at the top.:)
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Quoting will45:

Ok thot it shifted south a lil



track does not change on intermediate advisories
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7816
Well I'm off too and just can't see the storm down to 40 MPH winds.... On Radar it sure looks to be still in the 50 and maybe 55 MPH winds..... Ok well I'm off will check back in tomorrow.....

Have a Great Night All
Taco :o)
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Well, owdy. Also lived N of ouston once upon a time. In umble (ence that lack of "h"s).


And here I thought my aunt was the only one who pronounced Houston without the "H".

It must be something typical of southeast Texas residents...
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I am out too, night
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7816
Quoting xcool:


Two questions:

1: Is it me or is Alex influencing an abnormally large amount of real estate? It just seems gigantic.

2: Is it spinning off the potential for another hurricane on the East side in the above anim (3526)?
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3528. will45
Quoting TexasHurricane:


update looks to be the same....

Ok thot it shifted south a lil

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3526. xcool
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update looks to be the same....
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
3524. txjac
atmo ...you are so twisted ...lol
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Thanks Story.. me too!
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Say whaaaa????

Alex is down to 40 mph winds at 2 AM? Boy, I was off with my prediction in post 3053 (said 50 mph winds by 2 AM). Guess Alex is not as strong as it appears on satellite.

I'm out, night.
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Quoting 1965:


LOL, I know. Should have added thank God it's the GFS.

Though, with the CMC having a similar look, it is still a bit disconcerting.


The Canadian does as well.
Here
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3519. JLPR2
Quoting xcool:
JLPR2 yep and jfv to


ah good! xD
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SUMMARY OF 100 AM CDT...0600 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...18.0N 89.0W
ABOUT 55 MI...90 KM SW OF CHETUMAL
ABOUT 165 MI...265 KM SE OF CAMPECHE MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...40 MPH...65 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 290 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1000 MB...29.53 INCHES


WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY...

NONE.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE COAST OF BELIZE AND THE EAST COAST OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA
OF MEXICO FROM CHETUMAL TO CANCUN. THE WARNING WILL LIKELY BE
DISCONTINUED LATER THIS MORNING.

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA OUTSIDE UNITED
STATES...PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR NATIONAL
METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE.


DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 100 AM CDT...0600 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM ALEX WAS
LOCATED BY RADAR FROM BELIZE TO BE NEAR LATITUDE 18.0 NORTH...
LONGITUDE 89.0 WEST. ALEX IS MOVING TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST NEAR
12 MPH...19 KM/HR...AND THIS GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE
FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. ON THE FORECAST TRACK...ALEX WILL MOVE
ACROSS THE YUCATAN PENINSULA TONIGHT THIS MORNING...AND ENTER THE
SOUTHERN GULF OF MEXICO BY LATE THIS AFTERNOON OR EVENING.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 40 MPH...65 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. WEAKENING IS FORECAST TONIGHT AND SUNDAY WHILE ALEX MOVES
OVER THE YUCATAN PENINSULA. STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST ON SUNDAY
NIGHT AND MONDAY AFTER ALEX MOVES OVER THE SOUTHERN GULF OF MEXICO.

TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES...165 KM
FROM THE CENTER...MAINLY TO THE EAST OF THE CENTER. RECENT DATA FROM
A POLAR-ORBITING SATELLITE INDICATED WINDS TO TROPICAL-STORM-FORCE
WERE STILL OCCURRING OFF THE EAST COAST OF BELIZE FROM NEAR BELIZE
CITY EXTENDING NORTHEASTWARD TO AMBERGRIS CAY AND CAYO NORTE
MEXICO.

THE ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE BASED ON SURFACE OBSERVATIONS
IS 1000 MB...29.53 INCHES.
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Well I dont agree with Alex weakening that much...It doesent look as week as the NHC says it is. Oh well...good night all
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3515. will45
Looks like the track shifted south
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Quoting F4PHANTOM:
Same here N Houston

Well, owdy. Also lived N of ouston once upon a time. In umble (ence that lack of "h"s).
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000
WTNT31 KNHC 270559
TCPAT1
BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM ALEX INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 6A
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL012010
100 AM CDT SUN JUN 27 2010

...ALEX WEAKENING OVER SOUTHERN YUCATAN BUT STILL PRODUCING STRONG
GUSTY WINDS AND HEAVY RAINFALL...


SUMMARY OF 100 AM CDT...0600 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...18.0N 89.0W
ABOUT 55 MI...90 KM SW OF CHETUMAL
ABOUT 165 MI...265 KM SE OF CAMPECHE MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...40 MPH...65 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 290 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1000 MB...29.53 INCHES

Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7816
3512. Story
Quoting midgulfmom:
OOPS! meant central time....


Same here... and I know the intermediate advisory comes in at 1am..

NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY...100 AM CDT.
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...400 AM CDT.


After that I am not sure... learning this as they go along...
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NHC fell asleep, its 2am and the only thing updated is the TWD for the EPAC lol
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7816
Quoting F4PHANTOM:
Ridge building back in?

Not much else can do that...
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3508. 1965
Quoting F4PHANTOM:
Bad model, read post 3422.


LOL, I know. Should have added thank God it's the GFS.

Though, with the CMC having a similar look, it is still a bit disconcerting.
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3507. xcool
JLPR2 yep and jfv to
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


Mauriceville.....I say Orange area because some people have no idea where Mauriceville is. :)
Where the heck...
(j/k, sry)
Lived in Nerdland once upon a time...
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3505. xcool
COHurricanes2007 dnot do you get ban
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3503. JLPR2
Quoting xcool:
hello j


To me?
If so, Hiya! if not well,, Hiya! anyways :)
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Last update for the night... I have early Tee times :)



AOI

AOI

AOI

Hurricane Hunter Data

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
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Even the new gfs is further north and doesnt really make landfall technically. Decouples it right at shore
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Orangefield, Bridge City, Groves, etc.?(I could go on and on...)


Mauriceville.....I say Orange area because some people have no idea where Mauriceville is. :)
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811

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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.