Alex may head north to Texas or Louisiana

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:36 PM GMT on June 27, 2010

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Tropical Depression Alex has held together fairly well during its passage over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and stands poised to re-intensify back into a tropical storm once it emerges from the coast tonight. Alex brought heavy rains to northern Honduras, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and Belize over the weekend. It was not a good beach day in Cozumel yesterday, as 9.25" of rain fell. Cancun received 2.05" over the weekend, and Belize City received 4.57". Satellite loops show that Alex's heavy thunderstorms are mostly gone near the center, though there are some impressive bands of precipitation well away from the center. 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 5 knots over the storm, contributing to the 5 knots of wind shear observed in this afternoon'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 currently not a problem for Alex.


Figure 1. Afternoon satellite image of Alex.

Forecast for Alex: which model should you trust?
While the track forecast for Alex today through Monday is fairly well-assured, the longer range forecast has become highly uncertain. An increasing number of our reliable models are now indicating Alex may take a more northerly track beginning on Tuesday, with possible landfall on the Texas coast near Galveston on Friday (according to the 8am run of the GFS model) or into western Louisiana on Wednesday (the 8am run of the Canadian model.) 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 and Tuesday. Most of the models were predicting that the trough would not be strong enough to swing Alex to the north, and several of them continue to predict this. The 8am runs of the NOGAPS and ECMWF models, for example, take Alex into the Gulf coast of Mexico 150 miles south of Texas, on Wednesday. The GFDL and HWRF models split the difference, with the GFDL predicting a Thursday landfall in southern Texas near Brownsville, and the HWRF predicting a Thursday landfall near Corpus Christi. Morris Bender of the GFDL group has just provided me the track forecast from an improved experimental version of the GFDL that shows landfall between Corpus Christi and Galveston. So which model should you trust? Last year, the best performing models at the 3 - 4 day forecast range were the GFS and the Canadian, and these are the models that are currently calling for the more northerly track towards the upper Texas coast and Louisiana. Residents of those areas should review their hurricane preparedness plans and anticipate that Alex could make landfall as early as Wednesday in their vicinity. Residents of the Mexican coast south of Brownsville should make similar plans, as Alex could just as easily hit there.

Re-intensification of Alex is likely once the center of Alex moves offshore, though this will initially be slow due to the current disorganized state of the storm and the relatively low total ocean heat content in 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. A longer time spent over water will give Alex more of a chance to strengthen, and it is possible Alex could intensify into a major hurricane if landfall is delayed until Thursday or Friday. However, Alex's intensification may be limited the farther north it gets, as water vapor satellite images show plenty of dry air over Texas that might interfere with development. Wind shear might also be an issue for Alex if it pushes far enough north, and a slow-moving storm tends to pull up cold water from the depths, limiting intensification. In short, Alex has the potential to intensify into a major hurricane, but there are plenty of roadblocks that make this only a 10% probability in my estimation.


Figure 2. Skill of computer model forecasts for Atlantic named storms during 2009. OFCL=Official NHC forecast; GFS=Global Forecast System model; GFDL=Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory model; HWRF=Hurricane Weather Research Forecasting model; NOGAPS=Navy Operational Global Prediction System model; UKMET+United Kingdom Met Office model; ECMWF=European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting model; CMC=Canadian GEM model; TVCN=one of the consensus models that lends together all (or most) of the above models; BAMM=Beta and Advection Model (Medium Layer.) Image credit: National Hurricane Center 2009 verification report.

Elsewhere in the tropics
A tropical wave (Invest 94L) a few hundred miles north of the northernmost Lesser Antilles Islands has been pretty much torn apart, and is no longer a threat to develop.

Next post
Wunderground's severe weather expert Dr. Rob Carver will likely be posting an update on Alex late tonight. My next update will be Monday by 10am EDT.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Fl30258713:


Doubtful. I wouldn't make sense to risk the crews or the equipment.

I saw the rig captain working the DWH site interviewed yesterday and he said he only needed a day and half to two days to shut down the rig in order to navigate it out of the storms track.

I know news reports said five days, but it's probably done in stages depending on risk per vessel.


yeah. i don't think they'd leave them out there if they shouldn't be out there, but maybe they see these two models and are thinking, NO WAY, so there's no point in even acknowledging them in order to not "scare" anyone for no reason.
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never mind they are almost in the center again, so I will stay up for another 10-20 minutes to see the new center fix lol
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
Quoting winter123:
Darby's last gasp




Comeback?
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Quoting gator23:


cool,I just want to make sure KENT's LAW wasnt in effect.


What is Kents Law?
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ok well I am off to bed folks

gnite
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
KOG...nice pic. Alex not moving at all, just exploding with convection.
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I see that they have gone a tad bit more north. Wonder if it will continue?

Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
3180. GKP
Quoting F4PHANTOM:
While GFS operational model takes Alex in at Matagorda Bay in 114 hrs(We had one there before--CARLA 1961)the GFS Parallel has landfall just south of Brownsville at 90 hrs.
Quoting F4PHANTOM:
While GFS operational model takes Alex in at Matagorda Bay in 114 hrs(We had one there before--CARLA 1961)the GFS Parallel has landfall just south of Brownsville at 90 hrs.
Quoting F4PHANTOM:
While GFS operational model takes Alex in at Matagorda Bay in 114 hrs(We had one there before--CARLA 1961)the GFS Parallel has landfall just south of Brownsville at 90 hrs.


I live on Matagorda Bay, it is my front yard, and how well I remember Carla.
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Quoting gator23:

its from the movie maverick. that character disagrees with another character named Zane Cooper, and he said " I dont think so Coop"

oh ok. got it.
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3176. gator23
Quoting tennisgirl08:


In alabama.


cool,I just want to make sure KENT's LAW wasnt in effect.
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3175. EtexJC
Quoting EasttexasAggie:
Texas task force one has been mobilized to south texas. Seems way premature.


Since when is being premature prepare-ness a bad thing?
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3174. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)


here is a close up shot
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Thx to all for your nice welcomes! Being in San Antonio, a TX storm would make chasing easier... I've chased 4 storms (Bonnie, Ivan, Jeanne, Ike) and one chased me (Wilma) made every single eye-wall ... any other chasers in here have any advise on how to "get permission" from local law enforcement to chase without them harassing you when they see you?
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Quoting truecajun:


good point. maybe they are ignoring the models that are bringing it closer to the spill location. by doing this, BP will stay out there longer - clean up more, contain more, and continue with the relief well drilling??


Doubtful. I wouldn't make sense to risk the crews or the equipment.

I saw the rig captain working the DWH site interviewed yesterday and he said he only needed a day and half to two days to shut down the rig in order to navigate it out of the storms track.

I know news reports said five days, but it's probably done in stages depending on risk per vessel.
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Quoting gator23:

Where do you live?


In alabama.
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3170. gator23
Quoting EasttexasAggie:
Texas task force one has been mobilized to south texas. Seems way premature.

Election Year.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
thats where it is look for yourself here is a shot with grid lines its right at 19n 91w


I'll go with the NHC coordinates for now. You could be right in the end.
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3168. gator23
Quoting truecajun:


i don't get it? i'm not good at getting jokes/ sarcasm, which i'm assuming you are using;)

just sayin', maybe they really think that it's definitely for Mex or Tex, so they aren't bringing up the pulling north models in order to not "stir things up". maybe? of course i don't think they'd leave them out there unless they were 100% sure they were safe.

its from the movie maverick. that character disagrees with another character named Zane Cooper, and he said " I dont think so Coop"
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Texas task force one has been mobilized to south texas. Seems way premature.
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GFS Parallel

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Here I ammmm..... Rock Me Like a Hurricaaaane
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HH inbound again.

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3163. Patrap
TS ALEX NASA MSFC Viewer
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
Quoting gator23:

I dont think so Coop.



i don't get it? i'm not good at getting jokes/ sarcasm, which i'm assuming you are using;)

just sayin', maybe they really think that it's definitely for Mex or Tex, so they aren't bringing up the pulling north models in order to not "stir things up". maybe? of course i don't think they'd leave them out there unless they were 100% sure they were safe.
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Quoting c150flyer:


i'm david. Hi everybody! i'm an avid hurricane chaser and a lurker in here for many yrs. not a met, but am a comm. pilot and weather is an uber-passion of mine. Pleasure to e-meet you! :)


Welcome to the jungle David! :-) It gets worse here everyday! :-)

(not being serious, just quoting GnR...)
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3159. gator23
Quoting tennisgirl08:
Alex is just twiddling his thumbs. "I know they are all watching me...where should I go next? North... or....maybe west. I think I'll go North." And that's how the story is told. GFS wins, IMO!

Wow! It's getting late...lol!

Where do you live?
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Quoting tennisgirl08:
Alex is just twiddling his thumbs. "I know they are all watching me...where should I go next? North... or....maybe west. I think I'll go North." And that's how the story is told. GFS wins, IMO!

Wow! It's getting late...lol!


Yes it is..but...but..I can't go to bed yet lol!!! Still watching Alex....
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3157. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting ElConando:


You're plotting it still over Mexico?
thats where it is look for yourself here is a shot with grid lines its right at 19n 91w
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true cajun...those are exactly my thoughts.
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Rock me like a hurricane
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Quoting LSU791:

What timeframe does this represent?


You are gonna have to post the post number I dunno which post you are referring to.
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3153. txjac
Hi David, happy to have you here
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the soon to be used para GFS has landfall south of brownsville...

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3151. Patrap
Monitoring and Prediction of Modes of Coherent Tropical Variability

Real-time filtering of OLR data to monitor and predict the convective variations of the Madden-Julian oscillation and various convectively coupled equatorial waves, based on the "climatological" spectral peaks of a long record of satellite-observed data.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
3150. LSU791
Quoting ElConando:

What timeframe does this represent?
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Alex is just twiddling his thumbs. "I know they are all watching me...where should I go next? North... or....maybe west. I think I'll go North." And that's how the story is told. GFS wins, IMO!

Wow! It's getting late...lol!
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
01L/TS/A/CX
MARK
19.0N/91.0W


You're plotting it still over Mexico?
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Quoting truecajun:


good point. maybe they are ignoring the models that are bringing it closer to the spill location. by doing this, BP will stay out there longer - clean up more, contain more, and continue with the relief well drilling??
we won't have to wait for anything from Alex to bring it any closer to us here in Mississippi, it is here as of today all over the beaches...very sad
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Quoting c150flyer:


I couldn't agree more... it is definitely being persistent... but so are some of the others that take it into MX. I'll be very interested to see if any more continue to shift northward in the nxt run or two.

Not saying this is unheard of by any stretch, but if the models can't come to more of a consensus in the next 24-48 hrs, the general public (not just us WU geeks) is going to start getting very loud.

Add to it the possibility of it coming ashore at a very low angle, and it becomes reminiscent of Charlie, where a few degrees shift in track makes landfall several tens of miles north or south.

i hope the local mets begin setting that expectation soon and reminding folks of the importance of the "cone" ... esp in situations like these.

btw - i'm david. Hi everybody! i'm an avid hurricane chaser and a lurker in here for many yrs. not a met, but am a comm. pilot and weather is an uber-passion of mine. Pleasure to e-meet you! :)


Pleasure to e-meet you too!! Welcome!! :)
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3145. Levi32
Quoting Drakoen:
The GFS is really showing this trough pulling the system. It is interesting to me that nearly all of the GFS ensemble members point in a poleward direction.



Compared to the ECMWF ensembles....it is very interesting indeed. Massive model war going on here. Whichever one wins this will have bragging rights for quite a while.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26698
3144. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
3143. gator23
Quoting truecajun:


good point. maybe they are ignoring the models that are bringing it closer to the spill location. by doing this, BP will stay out there longer - clean up more, contain more, and continue with the relief well drilling??

I dont think so Coop.

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Hey David! welcome to the blog!
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3141. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
01L/TS/A/CX
MARK
19.0N/91.0W
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Makes absolutely no sense....those have been the most reliable Models year after year especially the GFS....i don't get it unless they are doing it for a purpose...i don't wanna go there at all!


AH ha! They are doing it for a purpose. Finally someone is getting my drift.
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3138. Levi32
Quoting shakaka:




The words "low", "moderate", and "high" all imply a percent probability. If you say such and such has a low chance of happening it means you expect say 0-20%. Of course I'd be guessing because, for some very strange reason, you purposely haven't defined your labels with percentages lol. But they don't really mean anything without numbers behind them. They're just words of degree purely open to interpretation.

As for the cone of uncertainty it should be fairly clear from the name that it's based solely on probability. Read the text below the cone for Alex on the NHC page. It's an overall 67% probability plot for the track with other uncertainties built in for each time point.

Anyway, none of this is really important but hopefully you can understand my confusion. Not using percentages because you don't like them, whatever that means, is kind of silly. There's really no logical reason for it.


I'm sure it's not logical. I just see no reason to make my posts that technical and specific. Heck....how's my mind supposed to decide whether I think Alex has a 20% chance of becoming a major hurricane or a 30% chance? Honestly....I just use general language that everyone can easily understand and get the jist of what my thoughts are on the situation.

I do see your point, and yes probabilities are essential in a lot of areas.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26698

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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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