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 MiamiHurricanes09:
70mph TS? Recon finding otherwise.


Just based on DVORAK.

Nothing else...
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Quoting reedzone:
CMC is very poor at cyclongenesis, but has been great with many tracks of the formed systems.



CMC is the worst of the global models on all performance but once in awhile it catches on.
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Belize radar link, for those interested

Link
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1547
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


What CMC are you looking at?


That seems to confirm what Reed said pretty clearly, CMC brings it to the Central Texas Coast

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Okay maybe this is real wishcasting, but from observing the Belize radar, is appears that an eye wall is forming at 17.1N 87.1W.

Belize Radar loop: http://www.hydromet.gov.bz/Radar%20Loop%20250km.htm
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Quoting PensacolaBuoy:
Link
Belize radar shows broad circulation, but no well-defined. Does the very large size of the storm slow its ability go consolidate center?


Yes. Larger tropical cyclones take longer to tighten their center. It is the law of conservation of angular momentum. The classic figure skater example is that if the skater pulls in her arms and makes herself "thinner" she will spin faster. If she doesn't tuck in her arms and remains "broad", she will take longer to start spinning fast, and it takes more energy to get her to spin at a certain speed than it would take if she was smaller. The same exact thing is true with tropical cyclones. Larger ones will take longer to spin up and will require more energy to maintain a certain intensity.
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The lack of upper westerlies makes it easier for 200 mb anticyclones to form such symmetry. One of the signs that El Nino is dead gone.
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Quoting reedzone:
CMC is very poor at cyclongenesis, but has been great with many tracks of the formed systems.


Id say second to the EMCWF, thus far this season.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
am looking at BELIZE and then going too the E PAC is more likey


allsoam uesing a desktop so soory if my words and spelling are a little off not has good has i amon my laptop
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114719
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.8 / 991.0mb/ 61.0k
t

70mph TS? Recon finding otherwise.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
I think I will just keep an eye on it regardless. Storms can be unpredictable....so I say it is better to be safe than sorry. As long as there is even a hint of possibility this could co more north,then I am not going to assume the upper TX coast is in the clear.
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CMC is very poor at cyclongenesis, but has been great with many tracks of the formed systems.
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Quoting Levi32:


Well, if Alex moves slower than forecast then it will make the northwest move sooner before its 2nd landfall, but if it moves faster than forecast it will make the northwest curve later, which ultimately would end up in a landfall farther south along the west gulf coast.


very true, timing is key.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


What CMC are you looking at?


exactly!!!
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Quoting txag91met:

How long have you been forecasting? CMC is one of the poorest models out there in the tropics.


They changed it last year, so don't judge by before that.
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Quoting txag91met:

How long have you been forecasting? CMC is one of the poorest models out there in the tropics.
No, that would be the NOGAPS.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.8 / 991.0mb/ 61.0k
t

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Quoting Weather456:
Water vapor imagery shows one of the most impressive upper outflow pattern I have ever seen on a tropical cyclone.


Agree....I have been watching it in awe.
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Current pressure found by recon (1003.0mb) supports current minimum central pressure as stated in the 2PM advisory. I expect them to find some sub-1000mb pressures since most the satellite estimates are above T-number 3.0.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting Levi32:


Well, if Alex moves slower than forecast then it will make the northwest move sooner before its 2nd landfall, but if it moves faster than forecast it will make the northwest curve later, which ultimately would end up in a landfall farther south along the west gulf coast.
thanks
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Recon hasn't yet entered the area of the storm where strongest winds will be found, but it is closing in on the center.

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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


What CMC are you looking at?


12Z CMC
Texas Landfall, trough catches Alex
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Water vapor imagery shows one of the most impressive upper outflow pattern I have ever seen on a tropical cyclone.
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Link
Belize radar shows broad circulation, but no well-defined. Does the very large size of the storm slow its ability go consolidate center?
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Quoting txag91met:

How long have you been forecasting? CMC is one of the poorest models out there in the tropics.


lmfao!!!!
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


What CMC are you looking at?


New 12z out, see my post way above... South texas landfall
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting scott39:
Will the timing on the trough be off to influence Alex any?


Well, if Alex moves slower than forecast then it will make the northwest move sooner before its 2nd landfall, but if it moves faster than forecast it will make the northwest curve later, which ultimately would end up in a landfall farther south along the west gulf coast.
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Quoting txag91met:

How long have you been forecasting? CMC is one of the poorest models out there in the tropics.


Uhh its bad for intensity but if you were paying attention the past few weeks (and in some cases years) the CMC is good showing possible track guidance.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting reedzone:
I'm not totally in agreement with the latest CMC, it's probably a borderline TX/MX event. I wouldn't be surprised if it panned out to be central TX because the CMC is very good at tracks.


What CMC are you looking at?
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Quoting reedzone:
I'm not totally in agreement with the latest CMC, it's probably a borderline TX/MX event. I wouldn't be surprised if it panned out to be central TX because the CMC is very good at tracks.

How long have you been forecasting? CMC is one of the poorest models out there in the tropics.
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Nothing impressive on recon.
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Quoting Levi32:


Could be as short as 12 hours and could be as long as 24 hours depending on his movement.
Will the timing on the trough be off to influence Alex any?
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815. WAHA
Quoting Weather456:
May not have enough time to reach H intensity in the Caribbean...hurricane in GOM likely


Ah come on! The subtropical jetstream is directly in Alex's path, and according to CIMSS, the shear is rising. Plus Alex moves fast.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Oh wow! Thanks man!
My browser refreshes automatically lol
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I'm not totally in agreement with the latest CMC, it's probably a borderline TX/MX event. I wouldn't be surprised if it panned out to be central TX because the CMC is very good at tracks.
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Quoting MrstormX:
New 12z LGEM now shifts back to Texas landfall, intensity looks way overrated 962mb and a visible eye.

GEM stinks...ECMWF Tampico, MX.
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i hate to be a downcaster and ban new caster and wishcaster but i dont seethis going in too the gulf of MX in fac it it looks like it will run right in too BELIZE and go in too the E PAC if it dos not start too turn N soon
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114719
Down to 1003.0mb. Winds are decreasing so they are approaching the center, but the whole pass into it is making it look broad and not very tight, at least in this quadrant.

000
URNT15 KNHC 261806
AF302 0301A ALEX HDOB 21 20100626
175700 1751N 08632W 9253 00715 0035 +235 +177 169034 035 032 000 00
175730 1751N 08633W 9246 00721 0035 +232 +181 169033 033 032 000 03
175800 1751N 08635W 9245 00722 0035 +230 +195 169033 034 033 000 03
175830 1751N 08636W 9248 00719 0036 +226 +202 171032 032 033 000 03
175900 1750N 08638W 9246 00720 0037 +220 +207 169032 032 035 000 03
175930 1750N 08640W 9247 00719 0036 +220 +206 167032 032 034 000 03
180000 1750N 08641W 9249 00716 0036 +221 +202 170032 032 033 000 03
180030 1750N 08643W 9246 00719 0035 +222 +202 171033 033 033 000 03
180100 1749N 08645W 9247 00718 0035 +220 +210 175031 032 032 000 03
180130 1749N 08646W 9248 00716 0036 +215 +215 173029 030 033 000 03
180200 1749N 08648W 9246 00718 0034 +219 +218 170027 028 033 000 00
180230 1749N 08649W 9236 00728 0036 +214 +214 170030 031 030 000 00
180300 1748N 08651W 9251 00713 0034 +218 +215 166029 030 029 000 00
180330 1748N 08653W 9245 00718 0032 +220 +210 165027 028 028 000 00
180400 1748N 08654W 9248 00715 0032 +220 +208 166027 027 027 000 00
180430 1747N 08656W 9246 00716 0032 +220 +208 168027 027 027 000 00
180500 1747N 08658W 9248 00714 0031 +221 +209 167026 026 025 000 00
180530 1747N 08659W 9246 00715 0031 +220 +209 163024 025 024 000 03
180600 1747N 08701W 9245 00717 0031 +224 +208 158023 023 025 000 03
180630 1746N 08703W 9249 00712 0030 +224 +209 155021 021 025 000 00
$$
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New 12z LGEM now shifts back to Texas landfall, intensity looks way overrated 962mb and a visible eye/ or is that 982... to small to read but none the less it still seems off.

Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
808. amd
winds are wnw at belize city and winds at Caye Caulker Village are from the nw.

This suggests that the center may be closer to 18 degrees north, than the estimated 17.5 N location at the latest 2 p.m. NHC update.

Basically winds from the wnw and nw suggests that belize city and caye caulker village are sw of the center. It also suggests that Alex probably isn't that well-organized yet. IMHO.
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Quoting Weather456:
May not have enough time to reach H intensity in the Caribbean...hurricane in GOM likely

unless it pulls off a miracle
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting Levi32:


Could be as short as 12 hours and could be as long as 24 hours depending on his movement.
Looks more towards the 12 hour range as current forward motion is 13mph.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting Weather456:
Alex formed right in the June hotspot



And is moving west which seems like an anomaly in June, but then again it is almost July.
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Here's a big picture.
psuewalloop

Off for projects! Take care.
Missed you 456.
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Quoting ElConando:


Perhaps they see something that showed a weak tropical storm that we did not see?

Still not over yet though.


I still don't believe this is as weak as 40kts. The plane hasn't entered the deepest convection yet.
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Quoting CoffinWood:



Miami, just hold the function key ("fn") when hitting F5 on Macs, and you can refresh with the best of them.
Oh wow! Thanks man!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting scott39:
How long will Alex be over land?


Could be as short as 12 hours and could be as long as 24 hours depending on his movement.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
nop


Atlantic
94L.INVEST
01L.ALEX


As noted yesterday, 01L.ALEX looks like OIL.ALEX.
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Quoting Levi32:
1003.5mb as they head towards the center. So far winds have not increased above weak tropical storm force.

000
URNT15 KNHC 261756
AF302 0301A ALEX HDOB 20 20100626
174700 1750N 08558W 9249 00737 0056 +224 +204 177034 034 031 000 00
174730 1750N 08600W 9250 00735 0056 +222 +207 175033 034 031 000 00
174800 1751N 08601W 9248 00735 0054 +223 +206 176036 036 031 000 00
174830 1751N 08603W 9248 00735 0053 +227 +198 175039 040 031 000 00
174900 1751N 08605W 9245 00735 0052 +225 +200 176040 040 031 000 00
174930 1751N 08606W 9246 00734 0051 +230 +195 176040 041 031 000 03
175000 1751N 08608W 9249 00731 0050 +228 +195 178040 041 031 000 00
175030 1751N 08610W 9248 00732 0049 +227 +201 177040 040 033 000 00
175100 1751N 08611W 9246 00732 0047 +229 +198 175041 041 033 000 00
175130 1751N 08613W 9250 00726 0044 +237 +187 174042 043 034 000 03
175200 1751N 08615W 9241 00734 0043 +240 +187 175042 043 033 000 00
175230 1751N 08616W 9240 00734 0042 +236 +192 174042 042 034 000 00
175300 1752N 08618W 9246 00728 0041 +235 +193 173042 042 035 000 03
175330 1752N 08620W 9247 00725 0041 +232 +199 173041 042 034 000 00
175400 1752N 08621W 9245 00728 0041 +227 +203 174040 040 034 000 00
175430 1752N 08623W 9245 00726 0040 +231 +197 174039 040 034 000 00
175500 1752N 08625W 9250 00720 0038 +235 +194 174040 041 034 000 00
175530 1752N 08627W 9244 00726 0036 +236 +190 171040 041 034 000 03
175600 1752N 08628W 9248 00720 0035 +241 +183 170039 040 034 000 03
175630 1752N 08630W 9246 00721 0035 +236 +180 169036 037 033 000 03
$$


Perhaps they see something that showed a weak tropical storm that we did not see?

Still not over yet though.
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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.