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 would estimate the winds at steady at 15kt.

The waves are now becoming more organised. I just had to swim under the dive shop and remove some big timbers that were rattling the place.

I will post images if things get real exciting

Thanks we would love to see pics
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Hey guys I just got a note from tropicalatlantic recon page and the note is as follows

Our site is currently not processing data from the current mission due to the raw
observations being slightly different from how they are supposed to be. Additionally,
our site is suffering severe outages at the moment. Please try to reduce the load on
our site. I am working on a fix now to try and get the observations decoded correctly.

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Alex won't be hitting TX. You guys can breathe easy now. Alex is going to miss the bus and that weakness shown by the GFS will be too far to the E. The ridge is going to be getting stronger through the next 96 hours pushing Alex into Mexico. This ended up being a very easy forecast.
Member Since: May 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 907
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
I still say the COC is still NE of what the NHC has just plotted and they have just guesscasted that center I shall wait for the HH to fly in then we shall get the real COC


That is called a SWAG. Scientific Wild A@@ Guess. They have a lot more information than you or I.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting UpperLevelLOL:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

New models up
lmao, nice!
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Quoting NOLA2005:
I can't find anything in our local media outlets regarding BP shutting down ops at the well. I'd like to think that we would hear that news first around here......


Might be moot if this thing is going to TX/MX. Be great news for the situation. We don't need anything stalling the relief well and containment & clean up efforts.
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Quoting StormW:


Right now, I don't see it.


StormW, looking at the surface forecast maps GR just posted, please, explain why this system would not follow the weakness and move more northwards. I'm just not seeing it. Any storm can only move around the periphery of the high. It won't go through it, and neither will it ignore any adjacent weakness to move more poleward. What am I missing here? TIA
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Quoting zoomiami:


Thanks for the update - how are the winds?


I would estimate the winds at steady at 15kt.

The waves are now becoming more organised. I just had to swim under the dive shop and remove some big timbers that were rattling the place.

I will post images if things get real exciting!
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Quoting texascoastres:
Stormw, Patrap, Keeper----- would that possibly pull it a little far up the to the mid region of the tx coast (Matagorda Bay--Freeport) area


models are meant to be used as guidance only and donot depict final outcome in any one event things can and will change a stronger system tends to go more poleward or north to make it simple
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Question for Stormw and the other experts here. I thought that the stronger it was the more north it would go. I live in Friendswood which is in Galveston Texas. Thats why im alitte concern because if it gets Hurricane Strength as it nears the coast like thier saying its possible couldnt it go north along the coast?
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stromw look whats about to come off Africa
already storm over land
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Quoting texascoastres:
Stormw, Patrap, Keeper----- would that possibly pull it a little far up the to the mid region of the tx coast (Matagorda Bay--Freeport) area


One should follow the Guidance runs and see what changes as their is alot of different influence's coming into play the next 36 Hrs.

Land friction,size,Inflow routes, a lil shear,..navigating the Yucatan is gonna be the story and how and where Alex ejects into the GOM.

One Thing I remind folks is that the surface inflow from the Sw has to face some disruption and effects from the Yucatan Ridges in the Central Peninsula.

So we watch the Guidance and look to see what changes will come downstream.

They will be most likely interesting as all get out.


12z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
Invest93
Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)




Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)




Early Model Wind Forecasts



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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

New models up
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Quoting Weather456:
With the conditions in the GOM in 4-6 days....a hurricane is possible.
Glad to see you back on!
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Quoting Orcasystems:


AOI

AOI

AOI

Beast from the East, until the HH starts again

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI


Your alibi form is hilarious!! Thanks.
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Pressure 994mb according to ADT

UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 26 JUN 2010 Time : 134500 UTC
Lat : 17:11:17 N Lon : 85:37:30 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.5 / 994.0mb/ 55.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.5 3.6 4.3

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : 0.0mb

Center Temp : -71.0C Cloud Region Temp : -76.5C

Scene Type : UNIFORM CDO CLOUD REGION

Positioning Method : FORECAST INTERPOLATION

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 0.7T/6hr
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

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Estimated at 55kt by dvorak method...

UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 26 JUN 2010 Time : 134500 UTC
Lat : 17:11:17 N Lon : 85:37:30 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.5 / 994.0mb/ 55.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.5 3.6 4.3
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I still say the COC is still NE of what the NHC has just plotted and they have just guesscasted that center I shall wait for the HH to fly in then we shall get the real COC
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Whoa! MN got a good whacking last night. Check out this video. Crazy power line shorting out at about timecode 1:20.
Link
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I can't find anything in our local media outlets regarding BP shutting down ops at the well. I'd like to think that we would hear that news first around here......
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Quoting utilaeastwind:
We are getting some strong seas coming into East Harbour, Utila. Waves are coming over some docks and winds from the SW.

MY LOCATION 16.10N 86.90W


Thanks for the update - how are the winds?
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SINCE WE DO NOT HAVE A RELIABLE CENTER LOCATION...THE INITIAL MOTION
CONTINUES TO BE UNCERTAIN.



Hhhhhmmm. "Uncertainty?" Ok. That makes sense. What? Is the weekend crowd in this morning?
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Stormw, Patrap, Keeper----- would that possibly pull it a little far up the to the mid region of the tx coast (Matagorda Bay--Freeport) area
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Day 5 Forecast



Day 6 Forecast



Something is wrong here in computer model heaven! IMO there is no way the current TX/MX solution will play out here; especially if Alex is a deeper system, and this stalled trough is lying across the northern GOM... The weakness is to the north and east with the zonal flow. Do not be surprised, as the forecast track is likely to change, IMO.
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Finally, we can have an adequate storm size comparison.

KATRINA (cat. 5):


IKE (cat. 2):


Pre-ALEX (TD):
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Quoting jpsb:
Here is the link, maybe the report is wrong?

http://www.euronews.net/2010/06/26/operation-to-stop-oil-leak-in-gulf-of-mexico-halted/


Maybe they left out the "might".



A Gulf gale might halt BP oil collection efforts for two weeks




In Washington, Allen told reporters that planning for a hurricane would require an evacuation of the wrecked oil rig's site once gale force winds are predicted to arrive within five days. Gale force winds are 40 knots and above, or 46 miles per hour.

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Quoting Ameister12:

Read post 105.


Yeah...are my posts being filtered or something? ;)
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Quoting Ameister12:

Read post 105.


Sorry. Saw that right after I posted. LOL
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Quoting highndry1:
mornin' all:


Let me get this straight, BP is stopping the show for two weeks even though none of the computer models show Alex going anywhere NEAR the oil well or the slick?! Jeezus, that well is spewing out an Exxon Valdez worth of oil every three days none of which will be captured for two weeks. If they're gonna stop the show or two weeks everytime we get a tropical system going into the gulf, it's going to be November before they get that thing plugged, and given the size of Alex already - it's June and that storm is HUGE - and that this is supposed to be a hyperactive year, the chances of actually having a hurricane going over the slick and coating everything in the NE Gulf in black goo are significant. They gotta figure something out here, because if they're shutting down the show and letting 4 Exxan Valdez's worth of oil seep into the ocean every couple of weeks between now and November...


The minute someone gets hurt trying to fool around in a storm - you wanna talk about trouble for BP...

It's the people side you are forgetting brah. No one wants their people out in the middle of the GOMex in strong winds.

That being said - we were stupid during Gustav and had to shut down the whole refinery and chem. plant. Luckily no one got hurt (thank God for that).

But it's a people issue for shutting in wells.
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Brownsville be prepared.

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Can any one confirm if the HH's have taken off?:


URNT15 KNHC 261444
AF302 0301AALEX HDOB 02 20100626
143430 3019N 08900W 8946 01143 0187 +209 +138 181004 005 999 999 03
143500 3018N 08901W 8639 01446 0196 +185 +144 160007 008 999 999 03
143530 3017N 08902W 8341 01749 0198 +165 +134 154008 009 999 999 03
143600 3015N 08903W 8064 02040 0201 +150 +115 155008 009 999 999 03
143630 3014N 08904W 7812 02306 0191 +142 +053 150006 007 999 999 03
143700 3013N 08905W 7590 02529 0175 +128 +037 148005 005 999 999 03
143730 3011N 08906W 7357 02796 0178 +113 +017 160004 005 999 999 03
143800 3010N 08907W 7136 03055 0183 +095 +030 157007 008 999 999 03
143830 3008N 08908W 7010 03203 0182 +088 -003 144005 005 999 999 03
143900 3006N 08909W 6990 03221 0175 +086 +009 144005 006 999 999 03
143930 3005N 08910W 6842 03404 0178 +077 +009 150004 006 999 999 03
144000 3003N 08911W 6667 03615 0178 +064 -035 125004 005 999 999 03
144030 3001N 08913W 6522 03796 0178 +051 -069 121003 004 999 999 03
144100 2959N 08914W 6372 03988 0176 +044 -080 131008 009 999 999 03
144130 2957N 08915W 6232 04156 0158 +038 -105 120007 007 999 999 03
144200 2955N 08916W 6100 04333 0157 +028 -131 134008 009 999 999 03
144230 2953N 08918W 5975 04482 0137 +021 -134 131009 009 999 999 03
144300 2951N 08919W 5866 04622 0122 +011 -143 116008 008 999 999 03
144330 2950N 08920W 5760 04774 0122 +001 -161 086008 008 999 999 03
144400 2948N 08921W 5652 04901 0127 -010 -168 077009 010 999 999 03
$$
;

This data says they have.
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Quoting lavinia:
Because Alex is so big, will he have any impact on Darby?

Read post 105.
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Quoting highndry1:
mornin' all:


Let me get this straight, BP is stopping the show for two weeks even though none of the computer models show Alex going anywhere NEAR the oil well or the slick?! Jeezus, that well is spewing out an Exxon Valdez worth of oil every three days none of which will be captured for two weeks. If they're gonna stop the show or two weeks everytime we get a tropical system going into the gulf, it's going to be November before they get that thing plugged, and given the size of Alex already - it's June and that storm is HUGE - and that this is supposed to be a hyperactive year, the chances of actually having a hurricane going over the slick and coating everything in the NE Gulf in black goo are significant. They gotta figure something out here, because if they're shutting down the show and letting 4 Exxan Valdez's worth of oil seep into the ocean every couple of weeks between now and November...




Truth. But no one wants to tell it. Thanks.
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Quoting Grothar:


:P Very funny! I have very few glory days left. You should be kinder to your elders. Posting those are the biggest excitement I have all day. Imagine the rest of my day.


I'll yet you have it for the 1:00 advisory, i'll let you have a bit more fun before you head to the nursing home lol.
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Quoting highndry1:
mornin' all:


Let me get this straight, BP is stopping the show for two weeks even though none of the computer models show Alex going anywhere NEAR the oil well or the slick?! Jeezus, that well is spewing out an Exxon Valdez worth of oil every three days none of which will be captured for two weeks. If they're gonna stop the show or two weeks everytime we get a tropical system going into the gulf, it's going to be November before they get that thing plugged, and given the size of Alex already - it's June and that storm is HUGE - and that this is supposed to be a hyperactive year, the chances of actually having a hurricane going over the slick and coating everything in the NE Gulf in black goo are significant. They gotta figure something out here, because if they're shutting down the show and letting 4 Exxan Valdez's worth of oil seep into the ocean every couple of weeks between now and November...


Lives are at stake. Lots of people and equipment to protect. Seas are going to get ruff and they have to get out of the way.

It bites, but there isn't really anything else they can do.
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Because Alex is so big, will he have any impact on Darby?
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With the conditions in the GOM in 4-6 days....a hurricane is possible.
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Quoting MrstormX:
What a little beast... *Correction - Big Beast*



Alex is so big it's having a negative impact on smaller Hurricane Darby in the EPAC.

BEYOND THE 36 HOUR PERIOD...AN
INCREASING WEAKNESS...POSSIBLY INFLUENCED BY TROPICAL STORM
ALEX...SHOULD INDUCE A GRADUAL NORTHEASTWARD MOTION.


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Alex is no longer a problem! Its going south of the oil spill!
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mornin' all:


Let me get this straight, BP is stopping the show for two weeks even though none of the computer models show Alex going anywhere NEAR the oil well or the slick?! Jeezus, that well is spewing out an Exxon Valdez worth of oil every three days none of which will be captured for two weeks. If they're gonna stop the show or two weeks everytime we get a tropical system going into the gulf, it's going to be November before they get that thing plugged, and given the size of Alex already - it's June and that storm is HUGE - and that this is supposed to be a hyperactive year, the chances of actually having a hurricane going over the slick and coating everything in the NE Gulf in black goo are significant. They gotta figure something out here, because if they're shutting down the show and letting 4 Exxan Valdez's worth of oil seep into the ocean every couple of weeks between now and November...
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101. jpsb
Quoting fatlady99:

..as I said...
Sorry, misunderstood, got defensive, once again sorry. And yes that is good advice, I will try to remember it.
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Heavy rains now approaching Belize

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Quoting Weatherkid27:
Forecast to become a 75MPH Category 1 hurricane in 96 hours.
sooner than that a lot sooner maybe by the end of the day
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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.