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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298. JRRP
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


He's talking about it going so far south that it won't emerge in the BOC and just stay over land.
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....
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Would anyone agree that it appears that a WSW motion is starting?

Here at 16.1N 86.9W winds are picking up... seas also.
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you know I wonder if we will see that lol

WPAC storms can get so large that outerbands of a storm have been known to create another storm lol
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7367
Quoting sammywammybamy:
Anyone have Tips for Someone whos Scared of Flighting Internationaly Over the Atlantic for 9 Hours at night?


Take a Day Flighting
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Quoting sammywammybamy:
Anyone have Tips for Someone whos Scared of Flighting Internationaly Over the Atlantic for 9 Hours at night?
ambien...
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Looking at how south it is going to hit Belize/Yucatan I would agree that it will go into the BOC.


He's talking about it going so far south that it won't emerge in the BOC and just stay over land.
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01L/TS/A
MARK
17.5N/86.3W


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Quoting Tazmanian:
not heading for MX its heading for JFV


You just said yesterday it's heading for Mexico. But look at GFS:




This is actually one-half of Alex's outer bands that GFS develops, sends over the Florida Panhandle, carries into the trough and hits Nova Scotia with three vorticies trailing behind.
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http://www.handsacrossthesand.com/
This should be happening any moment now!Yay!
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Quoting jazzygal:
Dr. Masters was just on WWL Radio again this morning. He said we would not know until Monday if Alex will feel the ridge or not. I don't think BP has shut down yet. Will probably wait until Monday to see what Alex is doing.
That would make more sense.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:
I am starting to wonder if Alex will even get into the BOC

storms in this area tend to like to move more to the west and WSW, I would not be shocked if this just died out over Mexico and never got back over water
Looking at how south it is going to hit Belize/Yucatan I would agree that it will go into the BOC.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


I just mean systems in this area generally take the southern side of the cone


Oh, well in that case, I agree lol.
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Quoting Floodman:


LAwet warming/cooling comment: so the fact that Canada and Alaska had the warmest winters in memory wouldn't count (as I was told by the local "experts" a dozen times this winter)...further, yes, it's true that you would look to cooler climates for definitive evidence of warming, but if the warner areas are way above the nrom, wouldn't that be evidence too?


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'...
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Quoting Tazmanian:
not heading for MX its heading for JFV


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.
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I sure hope the oil recovery (partial as it may be) does NOT shut down. There shouldn't be 'gale-force' winds in that area. According to the NHC 11 AM discussion, they're pretty confident on Alex staying away from LA / MS / FL coast.

"ALEX IS CURRENTLY LOCATED ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF A SUBTROPICAL RIDGE EXTENDING WESTWARD FROM THE BAHAMAS ACROSS THE GULF OF MEXICO. THIS RIDGE WILL KEEP ALEX MOVING ON THE SAME GENERAL WEST-NORTHWEST TRACK FOR THE NEXT 24 TO 48 HOURS. THEREAFTER...THE RIDGE IS FORECAST TO WEAKEN AND ALEX SHOULD DECREASE ITS FORWARD SPEED. HOWEVER...MOST OF THE GLOBAL MODELS SHOW THAT THE RIDGE WILL BE STRONG ENOUGH TO KEEP THE CYCLONE ON A GENERAL WEST-NORTHWEST TRACK OVER THE SOUTHERN PORTION OF THE GULF OF MEXICO. IN FACT...THE GFDL/HWRF PAIR WHICH PREVIOUSLY MOVED ALEX ON A MORE NORTHERLY COMPONENT ACROSS THE GULF HAVE SHIFTED SOUTHWARD AND ARE NOW SHOWING A MORE WESTERWARD TRACK LIKE MOST OF THE GLOBAL MODELS."
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can someone please pos tthe link to the google earth HH recon info.
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Quoting sammywammybamy:



Its Taz.. If anything Texashurricane get your Info from the Proffesionals such as:

-Storm w
-Weather456
-Drakeon
-IKE
-Orcasystems

ETC.



:-( I'm not a professional? Well.. I don't have a degree but I always thought I was good in my own little world.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
not heading for MX its heading for JFV

I thought it was dissipating due to shear?
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Some Lime in the Ted FunkTop Image

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TX not outof the woods intell the NHC move the cone of DOOM more S in tell then TX meed too WATCH
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Quoting sammywammybamy:


Its Larger than Texas


At this rate, some storms this year will be Larger than Alaska.
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271. IKE
Quoting Hurricanes101:
I am starting to wonder if Alex will even get into the BOC

storms in this area tend to like to move more to the west and WSW, I would not be shocked if this just died out over Mexico and never got back over water


I agree with you thoughts. I'm not convinced it will either. Maybe it does get in the BOC, but just by 50-100 miles.
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Thanks Storm i will take your advice.
Member Since: September 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1276
Quoting jpsb:
Only one news source for BP shutting down, trying to confirm, probably a bogus story, sorry I posted it without confirming. It did come from a good source .....


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

Go look for yourself.
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UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 26 JUN 2010 Time : 144500 UTC
Lat : 17:17:12 N Lon : 86:03:50 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.5 / 994.4mb/ 55.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.5 3.8 4.2
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Well Mitch didn't even hit the Yucatan, plus it reformed in the GOM.. Iris is a good example for this possible scenario though.


I just mean systems in this area generally take the southern side of the cone
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7367
Good Morning!
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


possibly, but look at other storms that have been in that area, Mitch in 1998, Iris in 2001 and a few others


Well Mitch didn't even hit the Yucatan, plus it reformed in the GOM.. Iris is a good example for this possible scenario though.
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Quoting reedzone:
90 hours, 06 GFSZ
The trough extends from the NE USA to the souther Gulf Coast..

Dr. Masters says Alex will slow Monday feeling the troughs effects and then the trough will wane and the high will build back in and send it W. Although he still gives Alex a 10% chance of going in the oil slick region! Thats probably da possible ace Alex still could play.
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259. jpsb
Quoting kingy:
BP are crazed by the oil fumes. They are closing down the oil collection efforts cos of Alex ? I appreciate it takes a few days to shut things down but this is 'health and safety' gone mad
Only one news source for BP shutting down, trying to confirm, probably a bogus story, sorry I posted it without confirming. It did come from a good source .....
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Quoting sammywammybamy:
Personally i Hope it doesnt make landfall in mexico, because to be quite honest were better equiped and prepared for a disaster. They are a 2nd or 3rd world country, I actually hope that it hits texas as a weak tropical storm, not mexico which is one of the poorest countries in the westren heimpshere


nope they are the fifth in the western hemisphere wealthiest and second in Latin America. US, Canada, Brazil Venezuela, Mexico. 3rd world they aint

countries of the third world

http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/third_world.htm

List of nations by GDP

http://www.latin-focus.com/latinfocus/countries/latam/latgdppc.htm
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


A lil' somethin like this?

Arthur 2008



possibly, but look at other storms that have been in that area, Mitch in 1998, Iris in 2001 and a few others
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7367
S TX is still on the cone of DOOM
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Quoting jpsb:
I took this article at face value, but I can't find another source either. I email the person that sent it to me asking for confirmation. The article might be hype. Still trying to confirm.


Cameras still show the cap on. They are doing something else too - a bunch of equipment on the Aker Solutions camera I've not seen before.

So they are still working - go look now.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:
I am starting to wonder if Alex will even get into the BOC

storms in this area tend to like to move more to the west and WSW, I would not be shocked if this just died out over Mexico and never got back over water


A lil' somethin like this?

Arthur 2008

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This is a shoe in for a MX landfall
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Dr. Masters was just on WWL Radio again this morning. He said we would not know until Monday if Alex will feel the ridge or not. I don't think BP has shut down yet. Will probably wait until Monday to see what Alex is doing.
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Any reports if Recon's airborne yet? They're suppose to be there by 2 pm
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Quoting Hhunter:
There is ship 120 north of the center with sustained winds of 39kts. Right off the bat if you are paying attention, you up the winds.


The winds are not necessarily strongest right at the center. The latest NHC advisory has the storm at 40kt (45mph) winds, in line with what the ship is experiencing.

Additionally, the wind may not be a direct result of the cyclonic motion of the storm, but could be a downdraft/burst from a single collapsing tstorm... so it's not conclusive evidence...
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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.