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 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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1003.5 mb
(~ 29.63 inHg)
Member Since: July 18, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 994
Alex formed right in the June hotspot

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1003.5 mb
(~ 29.63 inHg)
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Rain probabilities a lot lower in my area than yesterday. Seems like it was hinging on how far North Alex was.
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THIS SYSTEM IS NOT GOING TO RAPIDLY INTENSIFY

I think I will begin each comment I make for the remainder of this storm with the above. JK

Assuming the 12Z HWRF were right and Alex ends up south of the border, if the remnants emerge on the Pacific side and develop, is this a new storm with a new name?
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Quoting Weather456:
May not have enough time to reach H intensity in the Caribbean...hurricane in GOM likely



Great to see you 456.
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792. WAHA
Quoting extreme236:


Windshear won't be an issue.

If windshear won't prevent it, then the quick pace which Alex is moving by will.
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More recon data please. Or post the link to where I can see it.

Thanks.
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How long will Alex be over land?
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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
$$
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I'm using a Mac so I have to right click and press "reload", the F5 button doesn't work for refreshing, lol. I just beat you nasty.



Miami, just hold the function key ("fn") when hitting F5 on Macs, and you can refresh with the best of them.
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Quoting IKE:
12Z HWRF on Alex


Fujiwara...
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May not have enough time to reach H intensity in the Caribbean...hurricane in GOM likely

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Did you know that the term "tropical storm Alex" is the number 1 most searched term on Google in the past hour? Just thought it was pretty cool.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Is this front going to possibly spin off a TC once it gets to the east coast?
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


I think this graph for Canadian wintertime temperatures says a lot.



Now back to the tropics.


Since you posted the chart, look closely.

1. Chart starts at 1948. Were there warmer measured temps prior to that? Maybe.

2. Chart uses 1951-1980 as the averaging period. WMO says that, whenever possible, you should use a averaging period that ends in the closest decade (should use 1971-2000)

Problem with using a later period is that the "zero" line would raise, and the peaks would appear lower.

As I said, the holders of the data determined where "zero" is.
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Recons finding some 50mph flight level winds with a pressure of 1003.5 mb so far.
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Quoting WAHA:

Not according to what I predict. There's a lot of windshear. Click here and find out...


Windshear won't be an issue.
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Quoting WAHA:

Not according to what I predict. There's a lot of windshear. Click here and find out...


...Thats due to Alex's anticyclone.

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Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


What about me? lol. I posted it first!!!


I'll get to you later, I know where to find you, and besides,you just paraphrased. LOL
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Quoting extreme236:


If you think about it though, that's really only a 3 hour difference. Doubt that it matters significantly.
True, just something to point out that later could cause the system to be much stronger once it re-emerges as it is trying to minimize time overland.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
01L/TS/A
MARK
17.6N/86.6W
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53308
Cancun weather at the moment very wet with heavy showers on and off. No real wind.
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774. IKE
12Z HWRF on Alex
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Quoting Levi32:


The trough could have more of an influence or stay over the east longer....that is what the track differences in the models are generally hinging on. There is still a possibility of Alex sneaking up into Texas, but we'll have to see. It is more likely to be a Mexico problem.
I know these track questions become redundant after awile. Ive seen crazy things happen with weather patterns before with TCs and change track suddenly.You and some others on here help give us the latest updates on those changes and it helps.
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Quoting GlobalWarming:


my bad, i was referring to the low over nigeria? or is it still too early to know?


JFV-the question answers itself.
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770. WAHA
Quoting extreme236:


It's expected to become a hurricane in the Gulf.

Not according to what I predict. There's a lot of windshear. Click here and find out...
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Whats the link to see the HH data as it comes in??

Thank you!!
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Quoting extreme236:
Rapid intensification is something that can easily occur if/when a system gets an inner core/eye.
This could take place once the system is in the GOM.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
The CMC makes moe sense believe it or not, in my opinion. Shows the trough lifting Alex into Texas, then as the ridge builds, it pulls him westward as it makes landfall south of Houston, TX.
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Latest ECMWF slightly further south...heading towards Mexico...throw out the GEM.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
It's a lot further west than expected. Landfall was supposed to be at 8PM EDT, looks like another 3 hours and it's over land.


If you think about it though, that's really only a 3 hour difference. Doubt that it matters significantly.
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Quoting Snowlover123:


94L just got dropped.

-Snowlover123

No it did not.
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nop


Atlantic
94L.INVEST
01L.ALEX
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Quoting IKE:


I think it is further south than predicted last night.
ECMWF had this.
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760. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
It's a lot further west than expected. Landfall was supposed to be at 8PM EDT, looks like another 3 hours and it's over land.


Agree...it is further west than predicted.
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Rapid intensification is something that can easily occur if/when a system gets an inner core/eye.
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Quoting extreme236:


94L has not been deactivated.
Thank you. People fail to see that if it doesn't say "deactivated" it is still active, lol.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting Levi32:


Well um that depends on where Bonnie forms lol.


Its JFV...
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


No, in fact it had 12Z coordinates which is the last update time


Well, at least I'm not the only one who got confused! Lol.
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Quoting WAHA:

I don't think it will rapidly intensify.
THIS SYSTEM IS NOT GOING TO RAPIDLY INTENSIFY
It will be, at strongest, maybe 65 mph. not that rapid.


It's expected to become a hurricane in the Gulf.
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Quoting IKE:


I think it is further south than predicted last night.
It's a lot further west than expected. Landfall was supposed to be at 8PM EDT, looks like another 3 hours and it's over land.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Link

I think it'll be Xtreme useful in this season
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Quoting GlobalWarming:
levi, if bonnie developed, would it be a fish spinner or a land striker, thoughts?


Well um that depends on where Bonnie forms lol.
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Quoting largeeyes:
Does anyone have a deactivation of 94l?


94L has not been deactivated.
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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.