Tropical Storm Alex's Yucatan Landfall

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:52 AM GMT on June 27, 2010

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Update: Here's the 500AM EDT radar image from Belize. Alex's eye is roughly 150 km NW of the radar.


This Animated loop shows the development of Alex's eye. The page for Belize's radar is here.

The 500AM EDT forecast is a bit different than the previous forecast. Essentially, it looks like the area of high pressure in the northern Gulf of Mexico will weaken due to a trough over the eastern US. This will weaken the steering currents and slow's Alex's motion over the Gulf of Mexico. The reduced storm motion will give Alex more time to intensify in a a warm SST/weak shear environment. The current forecast calls for Alex to become a category 2 storm before making landfall north of Tampico, MX late Wed. night/early Thursday morning.

The $64,000 question is "Will the ridge continue to weaken, allowing Alex to move north and continue intensification?" The 12Z global model runs will have more accurate forecasts than the the 6Z runs thanks to the presence of radiosonde data, so hopefully they'll provide an answer. It's still my opinion that Alex will not directly impact the oil spill recovery efforts, but I can't say that the chances of it doing so are getting smaller now.

This is Dr. Rob Carver, filling in for Jeff during the late shift. Tropical Storm Alex is currently moving over the Yucatan peninsula. Alex's intensity has dropped to 50 knots in the latest advisory with further weakening expected as the storm moves over land. After Alex moves into the Gulf of Mexico, intensification is expected because of warm sea-surface temperatures and weak vertical wind shear. An area of high pressure in the northern Gulf of Mexico will guide Alex into a WNW-NW track. The 200AM EDT forecast calls for Alex to intensify into a category 1 hurricane before making landfall just north of Tampico, MX.

In my judgement, the chances of Alex moving northwards and directly interfering with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill recovery efforts are small and getting smaller with time. I agree with Jeff's assessment that Alex will generate 2+ foot swells that would interfere with skimming operations

Currently, the main threat from Alex is flooding due to heavy rains. NHC is forecasting rainfall amounts from 4 to 8 inches with higher amounts over mountainous terrain, causing flooding and possibly mudslides.


Fig. 1Forecast of 24-hour accumulated precipitation from TS Alex.

Alex's Belizean Landfall
Jeff saved this radar image of Alex making landfall.

Fig. 2Base reflectivity at 2315Z 26 June 2010 at Philip Goldson Airport

There isn't much storm structure apparent in the reflectivity data, just widespread areas of showers. Data from a nearby PWS shows that the peak windspeed was 43 mph. You can clearly see the circulation move past the station with changes in the wind direction and speed. You can also see when the rainbands passed over the station.

Invest 94L
Invest 94L is still out there, but it's not looking healthy. It's currently in an area unfavorable for tropical cyclogenesis and NHC thinks it has a 0% chance of becoming a tropical storm in the next two days. Current forecast models have 94L moving northwards and making a pass by Bermuda.

If things don't change significantly, Jeff is thinking about taking Sunday off. However, rest assured that if Alex starts charging towards the US, Jeff or I will put up a new entry. In any event, I'm planning on posting an update sometime late Sunday evening.

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There is nothing "cool" about GOM waters, anywhere.
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StormW,

Just how far right? Approximate...
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Yeah, a north movement would not only put some of our own bloggers at risk, but would give it more time over warmer waters..


Thankfully though I don't see a Northwest movement yet.
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Quoting Weather456:


I know both models show a trough in the picture in 5-6 days, but will Alex even be in the GOM that long? What about the westward component the storm will undergo until these features evolve? The GFS and CMC seems a bit too far north for me.


It seems like Alex is moving barely north of west but oddly enough structure (at least on satellite presentation) has improved since right before landfall.
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Quoting GreenMe2225:


Yes sir, but what does right mean?


East
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Quoting reedzone:


It's something fro you to atch, we'll see what the 12Z models show. It seems the NHC may shift their track a tad north of where it is now on the next advisory. If this heads north, chances of a Major Hurricane rise.


Yeah, a north movement would not only put some of our own bloggers at risk, but would give it more time over warmer waters..
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Quoting txag91met:
ECMWF has the center in a better location vs the GFS/GEM...GFS/GEM are too far north...ECMWF will win this argument.


You can't flat out say the euro wins the argument. The euro had a significant change last night with a weakening ridge on a NW heading..a stark difference from the earlier runs with no weakness in the ridge on a due west heading deep in the boc. Get off this one model train and look at the synoptics at play here. The latest NHC discussion shows this quite well. The euro changed with this rest of the models...
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Quoting txsweetpea:


Good Morming Reedzone ...any interesting new on alex and track changes? Do you have any links to models? I am in south east texas...I am sure its not alex is not getting this far...but hust want to keep an eye on it...Thanks in advance!


It's something fro you to watch, we'll see what the 12Z models show. It seems the NHC may shift their track a tad north of where it is now on the next advisory. If this heads north, chances of a Major Hurricane rise.
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Storm...Shifting right? Ugh, not really wanting to hear that sitting here in corpus christi. Do appreciate all your great info and updates, been a long time lurker on this blog.
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342. jpsb
Quoting USSINS:



Exactly. And, "strong" ridging? Sorry, not seeing that. Grab a water vapor loop, the deep trough coming across the CONUS and descending into Mexico will erode the western periphery of the ridge that is north and east of Alex. 1008mb is not a strong isobar to effectively steer Alex more significantly westwards. Even a moderately strong system will push against 1012-1016.

And, what's with the referral to the "coolness" of waters off the BoC? SST's are 30. Granted the TCHP may not be deeply warm, but waters are quite warm enough to support quick re-intensification.

And, weaker? There's significantly improved core structure and the system in general is enormous.

Not wishcasting at all, but I'm guessing we'll see a ramp to cane status fairly quickly, and a stronger system will not only be subject to a more northerly component of upper-level steering, but as the CONUS trough moves eastward Alex will move more towards the weakness as it moves eastwards. Texas is certainly not out of the landfalling forecast, IMHNO.
Is it fair to say the linch ping to your forecast is the trof comming from the west eroding the ridge above Alex? Not disputing your take just curious.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1197
341. MZV
I remember the models had touble with another big, wide storm... Ike. Models kept saying it would intensify and recurve, but Ike was content to remain a big, trucking, load as a Cat 2 and steam west into Galveston.

I have a little less confidence than usual with the models.

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Quoting tkeith:
TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI

I think you need to ad a D. and E. choice :)


Good god, how many do you need?
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Man those pics were bigger than I thought they would be. If they bother anyone or stretch their IE page then I will take them down.
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TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI

I think you need to ad a D. and E. choice :)
Member Since: November 1, 2004 Posts: 25 Comments: 8937
336. ATL
Quoting MrstormX:
Sheesh DGEX now shows Alex heading straight at Galveston, I can't help but wonder if there is something really wrong with the GFS and its derivatives.


Nothing inherently "wrong" with them, the GFS/CMC and their kin have a somewhat worse track record than the more southerly Euro, but their solutions should definitely be factored in. The DGEX, though, is pretty worthless...it's basically an extension of the NAM model, which is already fairly unreliable at this kind of range.
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So basically if im reading the TWD correctly, the CMC-GFS solution could become the favored one by the nhc should the 12z run continue to indicate a Texas move? NHC needs to make up there mind, one minute its an anomaly the next its the favored solution.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting Grothar:
As StormW, Drak and Levi alluded to last night, no one was really paying attention to the unexpectedly strong ridging which was occuring to the North. Since Alex was not expected to be as strong, or stay as strong, that was not given too much emphasis. There were still models giving a more northerly direction. I am sure they will explain it when they come on. That is why it is important we do not put too much emphasis on early models. They are not wrong, just providing data they have at the time, which changes as we all see this morning.

...And our intensity models are, umm, imperfect. Alex's strength, and girth, are players in his future track. And the intensity modeling has been all over from a max of a 35 knot system to cat 2 hurricane. This does not help maintain any consistency in track forecast.

We describe them, track and intensity, as 2 different concerns, which couldn't be further from the truth.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
The 3 most recent Alexes: (note this is just for fun, this obviously relates in no way to what this Alex will do)

2004's Hurricane Alex - 120 mph, 957 mb



1998's Tropical Storm Alex - 50 mph winds, 1002 mb


This one isn't actually an Alex, but it's what produced Alex once it got... retired

1992's Hurricane Andrew - 175 mph, 922 mb

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Thanks for the info. At 12mph looks to me like this guy might be back over water sooner than expected??
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Quoting StormW:
Back for an hour.



hey storm,I'm down in srq do you think we're going to get strong rain bands forming over the SE GOM and moving ashore along our coastline over the next few days associated w/alexes outermost bands????,
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Quoting thunderblogger:
So should Alex start a more northerly component to his track when might this begin to occur? Once back over water??


Good morning StormW!
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Quoting tarpontexas:
S TX standing by.
Looks like Alex to be over open water in a couple of hours,much sooner then Hurricane Center Forecast,wonder what difference this makes on strength and direction?
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Sheesh DGEX now shows Alex heading straight at Galveston, I can't help but wonder if there is something really wrong with the GFS and its derivatives.

Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting StormW:


Which sites?


http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/products/tc_realtime/

http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/marti/marti.html


shows TD
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Quoting GetReal:


Bad news, IMO, if Alex were to rapidly deepen to a Cat 2. The steering would take Alex on a more NNW track towards Texas. Right now I would favor a hit in Texas, south of Corpus Cristi, and North of Brownville.



Exactly. And, "strong" ridging? Sorry, not seeing that. Grab a water vapor loop, the deep trough coming across the CONUS and descending into Mexico will erode the western periphery of the ridge that is north and east of Alex. 1008mb is not a strong isobar to effectively steer Alex more significantly westwards. Even a moderately strong system will push against 1012-1016.

And, what's with the referral to the "coolness" of waters off the BoC? SST's are 30. Granted the TCHP may not be deeply warm, but waters are quite warm enough to support quick re-intensification.

And, weaker? There's significantly improved core structure and the system in general is enormous.

Not wishcasting at all, but I'm guessing we'll see a ramp to cane status fairly quickly, and a stronger system will not only be subject to a more northerly component of upper-level steering, but as the CONUS trough moves eastward Alex will move more towards the weakness as it moves eastwards. Texas is certainly not out of the landfalling forecast, IMHNO.
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So should Alex start a more northerly component to his track when might this begin to occur? Once back over water??
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Quoting bassis:


One site show TS, another shows TD, why the different reads?


The NHC will officially downgrade it to a TD at the next advisory, however they already began the 12z model runs as a TD so we know what their plan is. That is why there are differences.
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Quoting muddertracker:
Tarpontx..is that YOU or the most interesting guy in the world?

Ha...good one. Alex seems more interesting at the moment. Hoping the model creep doesn't continue this far N.
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ECMWF has the center in a better location vs the GFS/GEM...GFS/GEM are too far north...ECMWF will win this argument.
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There was a storm in recent years that lowered its pressure while over the Yucatan, so not unprecedented. I mean, we say it made landfall, but so much of Alex is still spread out over water, he is feeding himself with rich tropical moisture.

Kind'a funny that NHC is talking eyewalls already, when it is usually eager Bloggers, who are saying, "Wait I think I see a ...".

Wow, definitely stay tuned on this one.



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Quoting bassis:


One site show TS, another shows TD, why the different reads?


One is 35 knots = 40mph. So they are the same.
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312. 7544
lookk how the cmc spits alex the 850 one goes west the other 850 gos ne hmmmmmmm
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Quoting StormW:
Back for an hour.


One site show TS, another shows TD, why the different reads?
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310. jpsb
Quoting SavannahStorm:
Darby's getting gobbled by Alex. Not too often do you get a Cat. 2 hurricane disrupted and robbed of energy by a tropical storm... LOL

Alex having Darby for breakfast again. lol, seems like every morning Alex takes a big bite out of Darby's butt.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1197
Quoting StormW:
Back for an hour.


Welcome back sir
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Storm w i think changes are coming.South texas hit?
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Quoting txsweetpea:


Good Morming Reedzone ...any interesting new on alex and track changes? Do you have any links to models? I am in south east texas...I am sure its not alex is not getting this far...but hust want to keep an eye on it...Thanks in advance!


good idea not to be too sure on anything
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306. 7544
looks like conv is buliding to the ne and looking at the sat the northern outerbands of alex seems to be heading that way if he gets that trof could he possibly head to ne . or is out of the ? also a td could easy change direction and feel the trof harder so as long as alex is south of you keep a eye out imo i think alex has a few tricks up his sleve yet . and we may see a major shift on the next models run if he can get further north into the gulf . dont forget its only june
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Quoting whipster:
I'll take Corpus Christi for 500, Alex!

Oh let's not say that, okay!
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Quoting tarpontexas:
S TX standing by.
Tarpontx..is that YOU or the most interesting guy in the world?
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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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