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 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. :)
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3496. JLPR2
Quoting GlobalWarming:


How are ya, Levi?

Do you see much after Alex has come and gone, sir?


Deja Vu
Didnt you ask this yesterday, like twice? O.o
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3495. xcool
hello j
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Tropical Storm Arthur (2008)

Tropical Storm Arthur near landfall in Belize




The storm contained a large low-level center which was accompanied by convective banding. New convective cells began building over the Yucatn Peninsula, as the storm was being steered by high pressure system located in the Gulf of Mexico.[10] The associated thunderstorm activity was separated from the center of circulation, and an offshore band of convection died down briefly. However, it quickly regenerated; the storm's maximum sustained winds occurred in that band.[11] Early on June 1, the center became difficult to locate due to disorganization. It remained a tropical storm overland for nearly 24 hours before weakening to a tropical depression later that day.[12] Tropical Depression Arthur became increasingly ill-defined,[13] and while drifting southwestward over land, the National Hurricane Center issued its last advisory on the system late on June 1.[14] Arthur's remnants eventually made it back to the East Pacific but did not redevelop.
wiki
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Quoting sarahjola:
that is where the mm5fsu-gfs had it going on the last run

Dear, I think that's from Ida. Last Nov in the date at the top of the plot.
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3490. Levi32
The 0z GFS parallel, however, still makes the very stupid mistake of forming a 2nd low northeast of Alex from a vort max that spins off of Alex's circulation. The GFS, new or old, still can't handle heat transfers properly.

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OOPS! meant central time....
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3455...

WTF?
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3487. xcool
Levi32 /yes sir.
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


orange area, about 25 min from Beaumont.

Orangefield, Bridge City, Groves, etc.?(I could go on and on...)
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Quoting Levi32:


Yet far enough north of the other models to give south Texas some trouble on the north side of the system. Very noticeable difference from the regular GFS though, which is interesting.
that is where the mm5fsu-gfs had it going on the last run
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3484. Levi32
Quoting xcool:
Levi32 hello sir how you doin ...


I'm good, hope you are the same.
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3483. Levi32
Quoting uplater:


LA/TX Border. What min central pressure does that predict, or can we only see "below 980 mbar"?


Global models can't see the exact central pressure of a tropical cyclone. It looks like a major hurricane on the model, but to be frank it doesn't really matter what intensity the CMC shows it at. What matters is track. The global models are not generally used to forecast tropical cyclone intensity, and we can do a better job of that all by ourselves.
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good catch Levi
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Quoting txjac:


Hey there ...where are you located in Texas? I'm in Houston


orange area, about 25 min from Beaumont.
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Been lurking on and off. Am I to understand that new model(s) are coming out at 1:00 am eastern time? Could've misunderstood. Thanks
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3479. 1965
Quoting atmoaggie:

The stalling part would give us mostly south winds...


Once near the SW La coast and inland, sure S wind east of the center. Like you said, the stalling part.

That run also has Alex creeping toward the coast. There would be stiff E and SE winds over all of the LA and MS coast for days.

Lets just hope this thing finds its way to Veracruz.
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3478. xcool
Levi32 hello sir how you doin ...
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Quoting F4PHANTOM:
00Z GFDL does the same. MEXICO

That's quite a left turn...rare for a TC in the N Hemisphere to take such a left...
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3476. will45
Gfdl has been pretty consistant with that spinn off on the south east coast
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3474. Levi32
.
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3473. uplater
Quoting Levi32:
0z CMC still a nightmare.


LA/TX Border. What min central pressure does that predict, or can we only see "below 980 mbar"?
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3472. Levi32
Quoting RyanFSU:
Well, the 00Z parallel (updated) GFS takes Alex into Mexico...


Yet far enough north of the other models to give south Texas some trouble on the north side of the system. Very noticeable difference from the regular GFS though, which is interesting.
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Quoting RyanFSU:
Well, the 00Z parallel (updated) GFS takes Alex into Mexico...

Huge divergence...knew it would be different, but wow, that's a lot of different. Like one of them's on the short bus different.

What, besides the resolution, is changed? Didn't NCEP go with a different set of convective schemes? (trying to remember an email from a few months back...failing)
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3469. txjac
Quoting TexasHurricane:


oh goodness, right on top of us.... we shall see I guess.


Hey there ...where are you located in Texas? I'm in Houston
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3468. JLPR2
Quoting Levi32:
0z CMC still a nightmare.


dang! O_O
And it develops a low and sends it towards Pottery too! XD
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Are you a Met. Ryan?
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Quoting Levi32:
0z CMC still a nightmare.


how about this one?

Link
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LOL...I am off quite a bit!
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3464. RyanFSU
Well, the 00Z parallel (updated) GFS takes Alex into Mexico...
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3463. xcool
btwntx08 yep & more nw come too
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Quoting Levi32:
0z CMC still a nightmare.

I have some measure of respect for the CMC (after last year) and GFS.
-or-
I was pretty well sold that the trough would be weaker and/or Alex wouldn't be developed enough after the Yucatan to "feel" the trough all that much.

*atmo turns away muttering, arguing with himself*
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
000
WTNT41 KNHC 270251
TCDAT1
TROPICAL STORM ALEX DISCUSSION NUMBER 6
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL012010
1000 PM CDT SAT JUN 26 2010

SURFACE OBSERVATIONS AND RADAR IMAGERY FROM BELIZE INDICATE THAT THE
CENTER OF ALEX MOVED INLAND IN THE PAST COUPLE OF HOURS JUST TO THE
NORTH OF BELIZE CITY...WHERE RECENT OBSERVATIONS SERVE AS THE BASIS
FOR THE CENTRAL PRESSURE OF 997 MB FOR THIS ADVISORY. WHILE DEEP
CONVECTION HAS GENERALLY DECREASED OVER THE PAST FEW HOURS...A
RECENT BURST DEVELOPED NEAR THE CENTER AS IT MOVED INLAND. GIVEN
THIS...THE INITIAL INTENSITY IS LOWERED ONLY TO 50 KT...IN
AGREEMENT WITH DVORAK CI ESTIMATES FROM TAFB AND SAB AT 0000 UTC.
NOW THAT THE CENTER IS INLAND...WEAKENING SHOULD OCCUR OVERNIGHT
AND EARLY SUNDAY AS ALEX MOVES ACROSS THE YUCATAN PENINSULA. AFTER
ALEX MOVES INTO THE SOUTHERN GULF OF MEXICO...CONDITIONS APPEAR
FAVORABLE FOR STRENGTHENING OVER WARM WATERS AND IN A LOW SHEAR
ENVIRONMENT. THE OFFICIAL INTENSITY FORECAST IS CLOSE TO THE ICON
INTENSITY CONSENSUS THROUGH THE PERIOD.

THE INITIAL MOTION ESTIMATE IS 290/10...A LITTLE TO THE RIGHT OF THE
PREVIOUS FORECAST. MOST OF THE TRACK MODEL GUIDANCE SHOWS A
SUBTROPICAL RIDGE PERSISTING ACROSS THE NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO...
AND THESE MODELS TAKE ALEX ON A WEST OR WEST-NORTHWEST TRACK OVER
THE SOUTHERN GULF AND INTO MEXICO IN 3 OR 4 DAYS. HOWEVER...THE
LATEST RUNS OF THE GFDL AND GFS TAKE ALEX FARTHER NORTH LATE IN THE
PERIOD...BUT THIS APPEARS TO BE DUE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF SPURIOUS
VORTICITY MAXIMA IN BOTH MODELS THAT ERODE THE RIDGE NORTH OF ALEX.
GIVEN THEIR LACK OF CONTINUITY...THE GFS AND GFDL SOLUTIONS ARE
CONSIDERED OUTLIERS. THE NEW OFFICIAL FORECAST IS ADJUSTED ONLY A
LITTLE TO THE RIGHT OF THE PREVIOUS PACKAGE DUE TO THE INITIAL
POSITION AND MOTION...AND IS IN GOOD AGREEMENT WITH A BLEND OF THE
DYNAMICAL MODELS EXCLUDING THE GFDL AND GFS.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 27/0300Z 17.7N 88.4W 50 KT
12HR VT 27/1200Z 18.5N 89.9W 30 KT...INLAND
24HR VT 28/0000Z 19.6N 91.5W 35 KT...OVER WATER
36HR VT 28/1200Z 20.4N 92.6W 45 KT
48HR VT 29/0000Z 21.0N 93.6W 55 KT
72HR VT 30/0000Z 22.0N 96.0W 70 KT
96HR VT 01/0000Z 23.0N 99.0W 55 KT...INLAND
120HR VT 02/0000Z 23.0N 101.5W 30 KT...INLAND


thats the current advisory lol
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7233
3457. help4u
if you watch the loop on gfdl it acutually makes landfall in texas and loops south to mexico. also hwrf is much farther north than the last run.
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Arthur
SUNDAY JUNE 1st, 2008


The first Storm of the Hurricane Season, hits Belize, without warning!!! The Southern Most end of my country is devastated and submerged under water.

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Quoting jpritch:


Right now, petroleum is most heavily subsidized, followed by coal. The only renewable with any substantial subsidy is corn ethanol, which is inefficient and takes up cropland and pushes out food production. So we're currently paying people to produce fuels that are more expensive, dirtier, more dangerous to produce, and less efficient. We need to at least stop that.

Now that I can completely agree with. Subsidies should be for unprofitable, but absolutely required, goods and services only and automatically expire at least every few years. Re-up if need be.
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Quoting Levi32:
0z CMC still a nightmare.


oh goodness, right on top of us.... we shall see I guess.
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Whoops
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The SHIP has been the most aggressive since day one with this system.

Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
A reminder, the track will not change at the intermediate advisory
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3449. shakaka
Quoting tennisgirl08:


Hey Miami - the update blog you just posted states this:
"Current motion associated with Alex is towards the west at around 10-15 mph, with several NW jogs. If you have been following Jeff Masters' blog you will hear a lot of people suggesting that Alex has been moving towards the NW, this is untrue as a ridge to the north of Alex strengthened unexpectedly and stopped all motion except for due westward motion."

So, are you now saying that ridge has now weakened considerably?
I am so confused...LOL Just trying to get a handle on what's really happening here. I mean no disrespect..


don't disrepect the prepubescents lol!!!!!!!
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.