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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2638. JDSmith
In regards to the massive oil spill, does anyone have a wave height/surge/sea height anomaly model available to them?

I'd really appreciate the data. I live in Fort Walton Beach FL and would love to know how badly this will expedite the oiling of the beaches here.
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2637. Skyepony (Mod)
Sorry Taz..soon.

Maximum intensity potential..
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Quoting Patrap:



General Facts about the Gulf of Mexico

From: Darnell and Defenbaugh, 1990; unless otherwise noted.


LOCATION AND SIZE

The Gulf of Mexico is a Mediterranean-type sea located at the southeastern corner of North America. The Gulf is bordered by the United States to the north (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas), five Mexican states to the west (Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan), and the island of Cuba to the southeast.

The Gulf measures approximately 1,600 kilometers from east to west, 900 kilometers from north to south, and has a surface area of 1.5 million square kilometers. The marine shoreline from Cape Sable, Florida to the tip of the Yucatan peninsula extends ~5,700 kilometers, with another 380 kilometers of shore on the northwest tip of Cuba. If bays and other inland waters are included, the total shoreline increases to over 27,000 kilometers in the U.S. alone.



You sure are quick on the draw,lol.
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2635. leo305
Quoting Snowlover123:
NAM stalls Alex, and then shoots him to the north, feeling the effects of the trough.

NAM stalling Alex



NAM shooting Alex to the North



Link


and that's a 1000mb Tropical storm.. imagine a hurricane.. if that were a perfect model (which it isn't) and a 1000mb TS would be pushed NNW/N by the trough, a CAT 2 hurricane would be thrown to the NE/ENE by a trough like that..

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Quoting Joanie38:


ROFL !! I am laughing so hard!! lol!! You guys KILL me!! Miami...what's your take on Alex...I had to stop laughing long enough to ask you that!!! LOL!!!
LOL! Alex is a crazy system and seems to be strengthening quite rapidly. At this rate I think maximum sustained winds at 11PM will be 45 mph and could be a hurricane by tomorrow evening.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
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Its F5 time
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
2630. xcool
Alex stalls oh da
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
2629. LSU791
As I sit here and read all the prognostications I have to laugh. Though this is no laughing matter it quite humorous how to see how things unfold. Yesterday it was all TX/MX or MX by itself. Then this morning Louisiana was it the crosshairs. Now just a few hours later it is Texas is the crosshairs. I can say this however, I live in Lousiana between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and whiel I havenot made preparations I have taken an inventory of items needed. Because we can all agree noone knows.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
LOL!! I need to pee but I don't want to leave...


ROFL !! I am laughing so hard!! lol!! You guys KILL me!! Miami...what's your take on Alex...I had to stop laughing long enough to ask you that!!! LOL!!!
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507
2627. ATL
Quoting MrstormX:


Goody

Let's hope it's stopped moving SW...another 10 miles and it's back on the beach!
C'mon recon needs to get in another vortex message before the 11PM advisory.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
looking at west Atlantic wv and it just looks crazy out there. can anybody elaborate on all the activity i see in this wv loop? also can you give explanation of what if any effect the activity out there has on Alex? thanks in advance:) i would really appreciate everyone's input.
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Nothing desperate from here except about 3 major Models showing a close track to the area! I guess you can call it what those that are pointing that out as NOLA wishcasters as you are trying to say.........


At this time...
There is not one single model going to NOLA, and maybe two secondaries that even touch LA.

Texas yes...

Will it change... yes... is NOLA out of the question No, but not even in the 123 at this time.

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2622. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting IKE:


I was thinking of that same question.



Link

I couldn't find details, but I found this image of the topography.
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NAM stalls Alex, and then shoots him to the north, feeling the effects of the trough.

NAM stalling Alex



NAM shooting Alex to the North



Link
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
2619. aquak9
Eh... On second thought, I have no clue what's going on anymore.

2000 posts, and this one sums them all up.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Recon going back in to take another look at the COC.



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


Sorry, if that is the case.....more like disapppointed for the GOM that i live by. I play in the GOM every week....that might come to an end in the future....


Sad for me, too. I live on the gulf coast as well.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Big positive bias for shallow water/land.
Thanks! All a learning process for me...
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Greetings all, I used to post a lot on here, but got away from it for a year or so. I live near Baffin Bay, TX (about 50 miles south of Corpus, and 75 miles north of Brownsville.
We are watching Alex pretty closely, but my long experience dealing with tropical weather (55years) tells me that Alex won't be too bad as long as it doesn't hit above Port Lavaca or so. (midway between CC and Houston). I doubt it will have time to build up super strong if it hits down in our area or further south in southern Texas, altho any large amount of rain will really hurt the farmers, who will begin harvesting milo in the next 2 weeks...
I work at Naval Air Station Kingsville, and dread what work will be like tomorrow if we go under a Tropical Cyclone Warning (I know, I know, but the Navy decided to call it that). We will all be running around like ants, storing stuff and getting ready.
Again, hi ya'll!
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2613. leo305
Quoting Levi32:


That upper low, being only a very upper one above 300mb, doesn't represent a significant steering influence on the system. There still is a 500mb ridge below it. It is just squishing the upper high over Alex for a little while before leaving to the northeast.

Speaking of steering though....everyone check out the 0z NAM 500mb initialization compared to 18z....ridge may be weakening and it shows 500mb winds turning more from the southeast over the western Gulf of Mexico.

0z initialization:



18z initialization:




Yes it isn't significant, but it's feeling it a bit since the system(Alex) is stacked up well into 300mb


http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/atlantic/winds/wg8vor1.html

I don't expect it to move much(for now, which is a good thing for those that don't want to see it intensify since the fact it's close to land will hold it off for a bit perhaps even weaken it), but anything could happen. What I see it really feeling is the trough, based on that same vortocity map, it stretches will to the south, and really can pick up alex if alex decides to go Hurricane on us.
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Recon going back in to take another look at the COC.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
From now on we seriously need to have the list of potential storm names read like "Gumpster" and "Bopsie" and things like that.
Member Since: June 10, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 589
2610. Grothar
Quoting Bordonaro:

A condition called "Tropical Cyclone Psychosis"!!


Yo, Bord! Where you been hiding? Glad to see you back.
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Quoting F4PHANTOM:
Very reasonable assumptions and track forecast. I think a Baffin Bay landfall is not out of the queston.


Thanks, it was made by observations from steering layers, models, and water vapor where you can clearly see the trough.
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How quick is the ridge suppose to set back in?
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I didn't know there was a correlation between shallow water and surface wind measurement. Either way, it looks like water is pretty shallow there.

Big positive bias for shallow water/land.
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Quoting Bordonaro:

A condition called "Tropical Cyclone Psychosis"!!


Its a condition called ignorance.
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2604. amd
Quoting SouthDadeFish:
Very true, but I would not have guesses this severely. This stall combined with the new NAM run will stir the pot even more.


I agree, and I just saw the last update of the floater satellite, and the dry slot which IMO is the center of the system just took a jog to the SE with a hot tower developing to its NE.

FWIW, I'm not in the camp of the trough picking up Alex and slinging it toward the central gulf or even Louisiana. I think, like w456 said, and the ECMWF has shown all week, that Alex will move wnw/nw and eventually make landfall north of Tampico in NE Mexico.
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2603. Levi32
Quoting reedzone:
The 00Z NAM can be thrown out lol.. Doesn't even move it, it's not good with tropical cyclones anyways.


Well it ain't moving is it....

I don't care for the NAM but I'll take whatever I can get when the models are in this much disagreement. I'm more interested in the 0z NAM's 500mb initialization and whether the GFS initialization will confirm it.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
Is recon heading towards the COC one last time?
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Greg B didn't say that.
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Quoting reedzone:
The 00Z NAM can be thrown out lol.. Doesn't even move it, it's not good with tropical cyclones anyways.
Well it's not like Alex is moving right now.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting RecordSeason:
2569:

I actually agree with you. The CoC is north of the "hole" which is actually a small amount of dry air trapped between the center and a feeder band. It is filling in fast though.


That's my vote as well.
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Quoting DestinJeff:




Lol. That's off.

Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
2597. xcool
reedzone lol
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
2595. CCkid00
Thanks Levi for the answer....quotes wouldn't work this time.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
Quoting SirCane:


Seriously? You all are shackled to your desk? It's not like he's making landfall you know!
LOL, I wasn't being serious. But you know, watching recon is very suspenseful, lol, j/k.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting CCkid00:
is there a site i could go to, to find previous NHC hurricane forecast tracks? i'd like to look at Katrina's FORECASTED track on August 25th - landfall, just to see how much they were off by.

For Katrina, try this. And for anything else, just check out the National Hurricane Center's Advisory Archive
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Quoting Orcasystems:
Why is it people seem so desperate to get this thing to NOLA? Its worse then people watching NASCAR hoping for an accident.

I wonder if you even have a concept of what will happen if this thing gets into the Oil.


Nothing desperate from here except about 3 major Models showing a close track to the area! I guess you can call it what those that are pointing that out as NOLA wishcasters as you are trying to say.........
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Quoting tennisgirl08:


LOL. You sound excited! I do have to admit, though. that trough looks pretty strong in that image.
yelp and with all due respect I just don't like it

Taco :o)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
The 00Z NAM can be thrown out lol.. Doesn't even move it, it's not good with tropical cyclones anyways.
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


None! That's ridiculous! swlagirl, The storm could still come to your area. The oil will not. The path Alex will take won't push oil towards your coast. Greg Bostwick said that it would take a nearly due west track similar to Andrews to push the oil to TX/LA.

Joanie I don't know why he would say a front would push it southward. That s ridiculous too.
Houston NWS
Link

LAKE CHARLES NWS
Link

Click on Forecast Discussion on right hand menu.
These are the best place I've found for local SETX/SWLA weather. Because most of our locals leave a lot to be desired.


Hmmm.thats strange...our local met says we have nothing to worry about right now unless Lake Charles is in the cone.....
Member Since: June 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 507

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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.