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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2988. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
2987. Drakoen
Quoting Hurricanes101:


welcome back Drak


Thank You
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Quoting Drakoen:
Alex has finally moved into the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche and is beginning to strengthen. Excellent outflow can be seen in all quadrants except the northwest quadrant due to the presence of an upper level low. GOES IR shows deep convection firing in and around the center which is a good sign the system is ready to strengthen over the warm waters of the BOC. The system should approach higher OHC content within 24-48 hours to strengthen more rapidly into a hurricane.

My feel on track is in best agreement with AEMN (GFS ensemble mean)12z and the HWRF 12z at the present time. The RUC 02z analysis showed a 500mb trough axis that extends down through central Texas already opening up a weakness in the western and central GOM for Alex to follow through. The ECMWF and the NOGAPS do not show an appreciable movement poleward in the wake of this 500mb trough insisting that a ridge south of the trough will push the system well into Mexico. With the GFS having the highest skill level between 48 and roughly 84 hours out and the CMC with the highest skill level past that along with current observations, I am leaning towards those models but still acounting for the ECMWF and NOGAPS solutions.


Figure 1. RUC 02z 500mb Analysis


Figure 2. GOES IR Alex
Thanks for the "mini" update.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
2985. emguy
Extremem wild card, but something I am not prepared to rule out. Despite the well established appearance around the current center, the overall cylone is broad and elongated. I am not going to rule out the possibility of a cennter relocation/reformation north of the Yucatan Panninsula. There is some slight turning going on up there. Albiet, the convection is not quite as impressive and has diminshed some in recent hours. Otherwise, the true Alex appears to be hanging at stationary.
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Quoting ElConando:
I'm assuming watches will be posted by the 4 pm cdt advisory.


I think you mean 4am, and they may not; remember the movement of this system is going to be slow to occur. It likely will not make landfall in 48 hours
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7397
Quoting StormJunkie:


Don't think it is moving S at all, I think it's an optical illusion created by the waxing/waning/rotating of the convection.


Agreed. Not moving south, but really looks stationary. Nothing is steering this thing right now.
Member Since: July 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1242
so is the centre of Alex heading SE or is that just me?
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think about this if they changed the track to TX and LA and then the storm made landfall in Mexico... more lives would be lost then if they leave the track in Mexico and as the storm turns northward slowly change the track till it points to the north part
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2979. LSU791
Quoting tennisgirl08:
Just watched local mets and they talked about trough breaking down the ridge allowing for a more northward tug. Also talked about a ULL over southern states keeping rain in the area and to expect feeder bands from Alex on Tues/Wed. But, no direct threat. I am in Alabama.The Baton Rouge weatherman said the ridge over the SE will build in and move Alex westward. Talk about two different interpretations.
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I'm assuming watches will be posted by the 4 pm cdt advisory.
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Quoting Drakoen:
Alex has finally moved into the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche and is beginning to strengthen. Excellent outflow can be seen in all quadrants except the northwest quadrant due to the presence of an upper level low. GOES IR shows deep convection firing in and around the center which is a good sign the system is ready to strengthen over the warm waters of the BOC. The system should approach higher OHC content within 24-48 hours to strengthen more rapidly into a hurricane.

My feel on track is in best agreement with AEMN (GFS ensemble mean)12z and the HWRF 12z at the present time. The RUC 02z analysis showed a 500mb trough axis that extends down through central Texas already opening up a weakness in the western and central GOM for Alex to follow through. The ECMWF and the NOGAPS do not show an appreciable movement poleward in the wake of this 500mb trough insisting that a ridge south of the trough will push the system well into Mexico. With the GFS having the highest skill level between 48 and roughly 84 hours out and the CMC with the highest skill level past that along with current observations, I am leaning towards those models but still acounting for the ECMWF and NOGAPS solutions.


Figure 1. RUC 02z 500mb Analysis


Figure 2. GOES IR Alex


welcome back Drak
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7397
Look at this map.you can see the trof dipping down deep.I really cant see how this is going west when half the storm is moving off towards the NE.Link
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Quoting ElConando:


http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2005/graphics/AT12/01.AL1205W5.GIF


Being in Pensacola, I always go with the concept of planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

I thought NHC did a fine job and I was ready on the forecasting of Katrina. I was on here all the time as well.

I like to have all the information I can get and then to plan accordingly.

I don't get how anyone on the Northern Gulf Coast could not have been ready. Just sayin'
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Quoting Gorty:
It does seem like it is going south. Is this just one of those jogs that does not last long?


Don't think it is moving S at all, I think it's an optical illusion created by the waxing/waning/rotating of the convection.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:




Comment #35 ;)


Aww the memories. I was such a cute little wishcasting newb. Id like to think the fact that Ive been studying the weather longer and just finished my second year of college for meteorology I can do a little better now.
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2972. Drakoen
Alex has finally moved into the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche and is beginning to strengthen. Excellent outflow can be seen in all quadrants except the northwest quadrant due to the presence of an upper level low. GOES IR shows deep convection firing in and around the center which is a good sign the system is ready to strengthen over the warm waters of the BOC. The system should approach higher OHC content within 24-48 hours to strengthen more rapidly into a hurricane.

My feel on track is in best agreement with AEMN (GFS ensemble mean)12z and the HWRF 12z at the present time. The RUC 02z analysis showed a 500mb trough axis that extends down through central Texas already opening up a weakness in the western and central GOM for Alex to follow through. The ECMWF and the NOGAPS do not show an appreciable movement poleward in the wake of this 500mb trough insisting that a ridge south of the trough will push the system well into Mexico. With the GFS having the highest skill level between 48 and roughly 84 hours out and the CMC with the highest skill level past that along with current observations, I am leaning towards those models but still acounting for the ECMWF and NOGAPS solutions.


Figure 1. RUC 02z 500mb Analysis


Figure 2. GOES IR Alex
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:




Comment #35 ;)
Comment #25 is funnier. LOL!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
2970. hydrus
Quoting TropicalNonsense:


it will only be a MEXICAN Storm if they tamper with it.
look at how strong the trough is myfriend.

i just dont see it. possibly south texas but not Mexico.
There is always the chance it could meander out there for quite a while too.
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Quoting twooks:
BTW how are yall embedding the flash loops?


They probably use GIF animators or something. My images are downloaded from the NASA server and animated by my server. I don't do anything on my part.
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2968. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
Those are some cold cloud tops.

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2966. twooks
BTW how are yall embedding the flash loops?
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Unlike most of the government they have our best interests at heart. They must have data to back their analysis. I'm sure they have a lot of gut feelings as well but that can't be measured.




Quoting twooks:


Nah, the NHC is neutral by nature.

The NHC just needs a lot of convincing before they make any major decision. That's just how they've historically been. For them, it's better to be restrained and cautious, because so many people rely on them.
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The NHC may have been neutral by nature, in the past. But, we are dealing with unprecedented territory with this oil spill. The government is keeping tabs on them now. I am telling you, the oil spill is going to affect hurricane forecasts this year. They won't put anyone in harms way, but they will delay changing tracks (like right now) due to the effects that track might have on closing down the rig. Let me emphasize - I am saying this is a good thing! I want them to get as much of that oil until its absolutely necessary to stop.
Member Since: July 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1242
2961. Gorty
It does seem like it is going south. Is this just one of those jogs that does not last long?
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2960. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
Quoting twooks:


Nah, the NHC is neutral by nature.


Well, except when they're political. Which, fortunately, is only when they're human. ;)
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2956. Patrap
That ULL is a Blocking influence seems..

That can change the scenario if it continues a spell longer I spect
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
Quoting NOLALawyer:


I am here for a reason. I don't trust or believe the party line that the NHC pushes. I find much more usful information here from guys like StormW in terms of perdicting where these storms will go. I went to sleep the Friday night of Katrina thinking Florida was a lock, woke up and took my fiance' to the airport at 6 am, drove 2 hours to pick up my kids and came back to Mandville in pure pandemonium. I evacuated at 4pm Saturday, got into Lake Charles around 1 am. That was the end of my confidence in the NHC. I find them too conservative when it comes to "possibles," which is likely motivated by political considerations.


If you went to sleep Friday night thinking Florida was a lock, then you were ignoring everything the NHC put out during the day on Friday. Most of the city was in pandemonium by 5PM
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2954. scott39
Just one simple questions. Shouldnt all those outer bands of Alex be over yonder by Mexico and Texas if its headed that way?
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2953. xcool
GTcooliebai moveing slowing
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SC Monkeys...And a coon too!
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2951. Patrap



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
2950. hydrus
Quoting leo305:


upper level low in gulf states, may be pushing Alex and holding it from moving North, system is stacked up into the 200mb, so it can feel upper level systems, but the low is already moving away so it's influence should be short lived..
There might be the beginning of an upper low well to the west of Alex, Near the coast of Mexico on the Pacific side. Seems to be moving east.
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TropicalDepressionAlex once again becomes TropicalStormAlex

Copy&paste TAM, MOB, PBI, SAL, 18.4N89.9W, 19.2N90.9W-19.4N91.3W, 18.7N90.6W-28.7n88.4w, 19.2N90.9W-28.7n88.4W, 19.4N91.3W-28.7n88.4W into the GreatCircleMapper.
The red line shows the heading based on the last two positions. Below the map shows:
TSAlex had a heading of 297.8degrees (~6degrees north of WNW),
traveled a distance of 30miles (~48kilometres) over 6hours at a speed of ~5mph (~8kph).

TSAlex's distance from DeepwaterHorizon* decreased by 7miles from 673miles to 666miles.
The previous closure rate was ~5mph. At the current closure rate of ~1mph, TSAlex remains ~571hours away from the DeepwaterHorizon.

At 120hours away, personnel evacuations and shutdown procedures for ship evacuations begin.
(See the bottom of blog1521post705 for more info)

* Which I've been marking as 28.7n88.4W
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Quoting xcool:

Is that an eye or a dry slot on those last few images, it appears Alex is moving South or at least has stalled.
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Blog Update!

- June 27, 2010 - 11:30 PM EDT - Tropical Storm Alex Re-Classified - Quick Update -
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
It's allen because everyone reads the image properties.......

as I have been saying for two days now...Alex is purely a TX system... there Will be some flooding when this meets that trough. Be ready guys...
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Quoting stillwaiting:
I think the HH have pretty good confidence that alex will be moving NW because the last 3 passes have been to alexes NW and I bet their sampling the enviornment ahead of alexes future track...by tomorrow morning they'll have a much better idea on landfall area IMO
I'm no met....but just as a point that we can all learn from......it's not the mission of the hurricane hunters to check the environment ahead of a cyclone. That's the mission of the G-4 flights. We'll have one of those tomorrow, first thing.
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Quoting NOLALawyer:


I am here for a reason. I don't trust or believe the party line that the NHC pushes. I find much more usful information here from guys like StormW in terms of perdicting where these storms will go. I went to sleep the Friday night of Katrina thinking Florida was a lock, woke up and took my fiance' to the airport at 6 am, drove 2 hours to pick up my kids and came back to Mandville in pure pandemonium. I evacuated at 4pm Saturday, got into Lake Charles around 1 am. That was the end of my confidence in the NHC. I find them too conservative when it comes to "possibles," which is likely motivated by political considerations.


Advisory one had LA in the cone. And the 11pm advisory friday night had LA in the middle.
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Quoting twooks:


Nah, the NHC is neutral by nature.

The NHC just needs a lot of convincing before they make any major decision. That's just how they've historically been. For them, it's better to be restrained and cautious, because so many people rely on them.


Absolutely agree 100%
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7397
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


Hey HurricaneKing. I found out that you were the first wishcaster on Dr. Masters blog. Thinking that Hurricane Emily was going to hit NC as a Cat 3 or 4 :)



I dont know if i should go yay the memories of youth or shhhh dont remind me of those times. Lol.
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2941. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
01L/TS/A/CX
MARK
19.1N/91.1W
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2940. twooks
Quoting tennisgirl08:


NHC is a government entity. So, yes, politics are involved - always. Right now, the government does not want to press the panic button - or atleast delay pressing the panic button for another day or so...LOL!


Nah, the NHC is neutral by nature.

The NHC just needs a lot of convincing before they make any major decision. That's just how they've historically been. For them, it's better to be restrained and cautious, because so many people rely on them.
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2939. angiest
Quoting BahaHurican:
Could mean that a lot of pple who had to work yesterday didn't have to today.


Could also be that the storm is in the Gulf now and it is more than academic now.
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0z GFS Now Receiving Data
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.