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 sammywammybamy:
Expect a 55Mph Tropical Storm Next Advisory


Again thats reasonable, at the most maybe 60-65 mph.
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I still think 94L has a good shot to develop when it gets into good conditions


Just think if 94L were to develop and then the wave over Africa?

we could be on par with 2005 lol
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Quoting extreme236:


It will certainly have to build some convection, but it has plenty of time.
Absolutely. But shear is going to be "marginal" per se for development in the MDR. But with a cyclonic cloud feature like that I wouldn't be surprised to see it emerge with an immense upper level anticyclone.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
TY for the answers... goodnight now!
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Quoting Hhunter:


slightly big...


Lol, ONLY "slightly" big.

-Snowlover123
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To my untrained eye it appears alex is wrapping around itself, which means strengthening. Anyone else see it?
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Quoting all4hurricanes:
It's heading west I think a landfall in Belize is likely. I will have trouble crossing the Yucatan


I agree. It seems the comp. models are the wishcasters. Good news for the Gulf though.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
nevere mine what i have said


I dont understand how everyone picked at JFV for his misspelled words and this guy is more horrible than JFV and nothing is said?
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Quoting dxdy:
This is one HUGE storm! And that is on HUGE cone of uncertainty that the NHC has.

I have some questions: Is it it being assumed that Darby is going to have a pull on Alex and hook it east and then south? What are the chances of these two systems meeting up over Mexico? And if they converge, where will it go from there?

Another question: Is the current NHC track based on projected intensity of Alex? I ask this because the NHC has not been any good at forecasting intensity in the past.

And again: Because of the size of this Leviathan (Alex), what are the chances of it strengthening over land the way that TS Fay did over Florida, remember that?


Remember, Fay was sucking energy out of the hot, shallow Everglades/Okeechobee. I don't think there is such a feature in the Yucatan.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I don't know about that one. I think it will make it to the BOC, but not by much.


To the north or south of it?
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slightly big...
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Expect a 55Mph Tropical Storm Next Advisory
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Quoting Patrap:


Semper Fi.

Air Wing..80-86

San Diego 3rd Btl.

Plt 3070

MCAS Beaufort..VMFA 312

Mag-13 El Toro,..,Cherry Point MCAS 3rd LAAMB
Semper Fi HMS-13,MAG-13 Chu Lai
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Who knows, maybe they will skip invest status and move to TD.


It will certainly have to build some convection, but it has plenty of time.
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Quoting all4hurricanes:
It's heading west I think a landfall in Belize is likely. I will have trouble crossing the Yucatan


It will take a turn more toward the NW, as it is being steered by the High off of the East Coast, which will also determine where 94L will go!

-Snowlover123
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Landcane:


Who knows, maybe they will skip invest status and move to TD.
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Quoting efallon28:


You may be right. RECON is finding 42 MPH winds, still around 250 miles from the CoC.
They are 28,000 feet up, that information you are receiving is insignificant.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting szqrn1:


but will even if it remains south of tx, can it affect the currents in the northern gulf or is it too far away?


From all the reading today - if it stays to the west - with the time it will take to redevelop there should not be a large effect on the north gulf. Swells, and some winds from the pressure gradient. Check your NWS forecast discussion -- its usually pretty good as to this type of questions.
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It's heading west I think a landfall in Belize is likely. I will have trouble crossing the Yucatan
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Quoting Inactivity:
I see that 94L has been discontinued?Is that true?

I have been hearing all this chit-chat about it never taking a NW turn and it ending up in the BoC,is this true?


94L will move into a more favorable environment by at least Monday, development will begin there. After that, East coast, Bermuda, who knows?? Depends on where the Bermuda high is going to sit within the next week. If it shifts west, east coast maybe Carolinas or VA. If it stays put, fish storm maybe Bermuda being affected.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:



AL, 94, 2010062612, , BEST, 0, 206N, 611W, 25, 1013, DB

So no to that one




that is more true
I don't know about that one. I think it will make it to the BOC, but not by much.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:
I wouldn't be surprised to see that recon finds 50-65 m/h winds in Alex, its way stronger than 45 m/h.


You may be right. RECON is finding 42 MPH winds, still around 250 miles from the CoC.
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Getting closer,

Time: 16:44:00Z
Coordinates: 20.7667N 85.6333W
Acft. Static Air Press: 344.3 mb (~ 10.17 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 8,766 meters (~ 28,760 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: -
D-value: 540 meters (~ 1,772 feet)
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 82° at 30 knots (From the E at ~ 34.5 mph)
Air Temp: -20.2°C (~ -4.4°F)
Dew Pt: -25.8°C (~ -14.4°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 32 knots (~ 36.8 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 36 knots (~ 41.4 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 9 mm/hr (~ 0.35 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Moderate TS strength, sounds reasonable.
I expect Alex to be a 60 mph system before making landfall.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
472. DDR
Belize radar
Link
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Quoting StormW:


Looking good, Storm!

-Snowy
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Quoting Inactivity:
I see that 94L has been discontinued?Is that true?



AL, 94, 2010062612, , BEST, 0, 206N, 611W, 25, 1013, DB

So no to that one


Quoting Inactivity:
I have been hearing all this chit-chat about it never taking a NW turn and it ending up in the BoC,is this true?


that is more true
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Quoting yonzabam:


Dr. Masters gives it just a 10% chance of going into that area.



but will even if it remains south of tx, can it affect the currents in the northern gulf or is it too far away?
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468. dxdy
This is one HUGE storm! And that is on HUGE cone of uncertainty that the NHC has.

I have some questions: Is it it being assumed that Darby is going to have a pull on Alex and hook it east and then south? What are the chances of these two systems meeting up over Mexico? And if they converge, where will it go from there?

Another question: Is the current NHC track based on projected intensity of Alex? I ask this because the NHC has not been any good at forecasting intensity in the past.

And again: Because of the size of this Leviathan (Alex), what are the chances of it strengthening over land the way that TS Fay did over Florida, remember that?
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Model consensus indicates a hurricane for Alex.

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Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:
I wouldn't be surprised to see that recon finds 50-65 m/h winds in Alex, its way stronger than 45 m/h.


Moderate TS strength, sounds reasonable.
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Quoting Inactivity:
I see that 94L has been discontinued?Is that true?

I have been hearing all this chit-chat about it never taking a NW turn and it ending up in the BoC,is this true?
94L has not been discontinued.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting txag91met:
Drakeon---> When in doubt use the Euro.

I expect the next run of the ECMWF to be further south again.

lol u talking to urself lol looks like drak isnt here for the moment..
Member Since: July 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796
Quoting StormFreakyisher:
People are already gathering for a line formation here in Boca Raton, FL.
http://bocasurfcam.com/

Well, looks like Boca has a good following on the blog today!
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Quoting F4PHANTOM:
That's what you said last night...
Yeah and it looks like I may be right.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
I see that 94L has been discontinued?Is that true?

I have been hearing all this chit-chat about it never taking a NW turn and it ending up in the BoC,is this true?
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Blog Update!

June 26, 2010 - 12:50 PM EDT - Tropical Storm Alex Nears Landfall -
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yeah, I was thinking around that area. Looks like a northern Belize, southern Yucatan landfall.
That's what you said last night...
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I wouldn't be surprised to see that recon finds 50-65 m/h winds in Alex, its way stronger than 45 m/h.
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Quoting szqrn1:
:( no answer guys?


Dr. Masters gives it just a 10% chance of going into that area.

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>>427. MrstormX
*Cozumel*..We are getting a few Tstorms on and off...But it's nice to have the rains and cooler weather after all the heat we've had lately.
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I have Alex tracking west now. RGB loop seems to show this clearly.

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/flt/t1/flash-rgb.html

Is anyone in agreement?
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Drakeon---> When in doubt use the Euro.

I expect the next run of the ECMWF to be further south again.
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Quoting StormW:


Did you visit my blog?


no, sir, i haven't, ooppsss, :(.
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449. Skyepony (Mod)
Alex maybe crazy rain for Central America, looks to be training in mountain areas.
last 24hrs..

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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.

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