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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I've crossed the Atlantic by US Navy Vessel and the Pacific by a MAC 747 Built in 71, Sept 82.
Okinawa to Anchorage.

Its much safer flying than Driving and almost as safe as Blogging.

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Belize radar
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Quoting sammywammybamy:
Anyone have Tips for Someone whos Scared of Flighting Internationaly Over the Atlantic for 9 Hours at night?


VALIUM OR VALERIAN ROOT
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344. hercj
Quoting sammywammybamy:



A-330 is Safe? And The larger the Airplane the Smoother the takeoff corect?

Well he will be loaded pretty heavy so it might seem you are not going to get off the ground but it will. Yes the A330 is a safe aircraft. I prefer Boeing 777 but you will get where you are going. Most of all try and relax and enjoy your adventure. It is something most people dont get to do very much of. Trust me when I tell you the flight crew have had to go through a lot of training and will get you there safe. Dont worry.
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Quoting IKE:


To my 52 year-old eyes it looks close to 17N and 87W.
Yeah, I was thinking around that area. Looks like a northern Belize, southern Yucatan landfall.
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My initial thoughts still stand on Alex. Move into N Belieze-Yucitan..just north of Belieze city. Move offshore near 19-19.5N Sunday. Never getting higher than 20.5N kinda meandering as the ridge breaks down with the trough diggin down into the eastern U.S. This also may induece a WSW movement in the BOC by midweek making landfall. I dont see this getting further than 22N @ landfall..more like 19-20N on Tues-Weds backing into southern Mexico cause of the ridging building in over the NW GOM-MX. I still say midlevel moisture over the eastern GOM will spawn another low, but I think the GFS has convective feedback in the 72hr timeframe. Still by midweek-late week.. a tropical or nontropical low will move into Florida and off the coast.
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Looks to me like a landfall might happen near Ambergris Caye, Belize based on current trajectory.
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Quoting MrstormX:


Then again there haven't been any in a long time either, :P
Lol, true. But the sheer size of it is impressive, especially for being a tropical storm.
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Quoting sammywammybamy:


Cant My Flight is Booked at 8pm Leaving MIA(Miami international Airport) and Arriving in Zurich , Switzerland.

Flight Duration is: 9 Hrs 10 MIN


Sleeping pills? or maybe bourbon...I'd take the bourbon myself.
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Quoting IKE:
Looks headed for a northern Belize landfall.....



Entire system is 14 x 15 deg (lat x lon diameter) and 5 x 5 deg for the central convection. The sheer size of the storm almost reminds me of Phet.
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From Invest to TS, Alex has the characteristics of a Western Pacific storm, which is why it's got lots of moisture. It's a monsoonal TS. Needs to be treated like it was in the Western Pacific because this is what we are dealing with.
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332. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
What are the coordinates of the circulation?


To my 52 year-old eyes it looks close to 17N and 87W.
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San Pedro Town Ambergris Caye, Belize weather info:

Link
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330. jpsb
Quoting sammywammybamy:
Anyone have Tips for Someone whos Scared of Flighting Internationaly Over the Atlantic for 9 Hours at night?
Drink heavily before the flight and then pass out during the flight. Works every time.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I haven't seen convection this strong in a tropical storm in a long time.



Then again there haven't been any in a long time either, :P
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Quoting btwntx08:
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.
wow


Mornin BT. You stay safe down there.
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Quoting NeverPanic:


Lots of scotch before you go and lots of Tylenol for when you land.


Good way to kill your liver.
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Ok.. eventually this pulls north in time, but then the ridge builds to the west.. Same thing happened with Frances in 2004, just near Florida. I can't see Alex hitting southern Mexico, most likely a Northern Mexico/Southern Texas Storm, similar to Dolly in 2008. Not ruling out a central Texas event, but after looking at the steering maps and stuff, NOrthern Mexico seems to be the target (in my opinion) for now.
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What are ensemble models and do they mean anything?
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I haven't seen convection this strong in a tropical storm in a long time.

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Quoting Orcasystems:
Hurricane Hunter is getting closer :)



AOI


Weird, I had to unload it and download it again to get Mission 3 to load. All the refreshing in the world didn't help, but I got it now.
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322. hercj
Quoting sammywammybamy:


A-330

It will be a smooth ride. Drink water and stay hydrated and it will help you fight off jet lag. Going East is always worse than going west. I am a pilot and have made the hop across the pond many times. Going over the cap to the far east or Australia is far worse.
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Quoting IKE:
Looks headed for a Belize landfall.....

What are the coordinates of the circulation?
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Quoting StormW:


Methinks you should follow your handle.


Storm you make me laugh. lol Have a wonderful day!
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Quoting hcubed:


To a point, yes.

Some of the problem we have is the people who hold the data, determines what "normal" is.

And in some cases, those that hold the data won't release the data for verification.

Then there's that old disclaimer "since records have been kept". It's possible that the old record for high temp in that area was set at a time before thermometers were invented.

Just sayin'...


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



Now back to the tropics.
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


I dunno, if we do get a center relocation to the SW then I'd probably agree with H101
Well it is moving towards the WNW.
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316. IKE
Looks headed for a northern Belize landfall.....

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Quoting Grothar:


Don't look out the window. Just watch the movie! Try doing it 2 or 3 times a month, then we'll talk.
I love taking flights. I once went to Dubai, UAE. It was like a 9 hour flight to Rome, and then another 9 hours to Dubai. By the way, I watched the movie. LOL.
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312. hercj
Quoting sammywammybamy:
Anyone have Tips for Someone whos Scared of Flighting Internationaly Over the Atlantic for 9 Hours at night?

what aircraft are you flying on?
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Well then I disagree, lol. I think it will enter the BOC but I think it will stay close to Mexico. Let's see how it unfolds....


I dunno, if we do get a center relocation to the SW then I'd probably agree with H101
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Based on 1515Z visual from NRL, you can now clearly see (even with my old eyes) a COC center at 16.9N 76.9W
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308. jpsb
Quoting CanesfanatUT:


It's not down now. Read my post above - bp.isevil.org

Go look for yourself.
Yeah bogus news story. Bogus news stories suck!
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People are already gathering for a line formation here in Boca Raton, FL.
http://bocasurfcam.com/
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Quoting JRRP:
The further north it makes landfall the higher the chances of re-development in the BOC/GOMEX. Why? Belize is very mountainous, the Yucatan is basically flat land which wouldn't disrupt the circulation as much.
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Agree, it's going to go through Mexico, across the EPAC and CPAC, through the WPAC, bulldozing into China, Thailand, India, etc. until it gets back onto Africa as a wave, then goes right to the north of the Leewards island as a CAT 2, then RI into a CAT 43 because of the natural affects of JFV and his followers' wishcasting and stalls over his house until 2012 when it explodes and consumes the earth.


Can you imagine the size of the blog then?
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Quoting Orcasystems:
Hurricane Hunter is getting closer :)



AOI


where did you get that Google Earth overlay?
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Quoting sammywammybamy:
Anyone have Tips for Someone whos Scared of Flighting Internationaly Over the Atlantic for 9 Hours at night?


Lots of scotch before you go and lots of Tylenol for when you land.
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Hurricane Hunter is getting closer :)



AOI
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting sammywammybamy:
Anyone have Tips for Someone whos Scared of Flighting Internationaly Over the Atlantic for 9 Hours at night?


Don't look out the window. Just watch the movie! Try doing it 2 or 3 times a month, then we'll talk.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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