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 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.....
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2587. SirCane
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
LOL!! I need to pee but I don't want to leave...


Seriously? You all are shackled to your desk? It's not like he's making landfall you know!
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2584. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)


in this animation we see all the players
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53308
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Check out post 2562
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.
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2582. guygee
Quoting Skyepony:
Wow..Alex on MIMIC
Like something out of Cosmos, billions and billions of clouds lining up in spiral bands. Beautiful.
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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:




And because the ridge is weakening, expect this not to take as much of a westerly turn.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting P451:


Not unexpected if you saw yesterday's models. They all showed this in some capacity. A stall, a SW motion followed by a N/NE motion, followed by a resumption of a WNW motion. They all showed it in some way or another as Alex exited the YUC.

So things are proceeding as forecasted. We still have to watch whether or not Alex DOESNT resume the WNW motion some time tomorrow afternoon.

I think he's too far south to be picked up by the trough. Yet you just never know with these things. Storms crossing the YUC, such as Opal, can do strange things.
Which models showed this yesterday?
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2578. Levi32
Quoting CCkid00:

winds turning more from the SE means what?


It means a weakness could be starting to open to Alex's north allowing him to start moving northward. We are at a point now where if the GFS and CMC are right, Alex will start to move well north of the NHC track during the next 24-36 hours.
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Quoting MrstormX:
According to 0z NAM, Alex will have hardly moved in 24 hours.


In that case, Alex will prolly not be intensifying very quickly...if it transpires.
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2575. Grothar
Though somewhat shallow along the coastal continental shelf areas, it plunges to an (estimated) maximum depth of over 13,123 ft (4,000 m) in the Sigsbee Deep, a flat abyss portion in the southwestern Gulf.

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2574. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127701
2573. CCkid00
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 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:



winds turning more from the SE means what?
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Quoting stillwaiting:
their going in for another vortex fix....
Great!
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There Is No Eye ok?? that is a dry slot and that is all, it will be GONE in an hour. The COC is north east of that dry slot.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Well the measurement was a couple miles off the coast.


Check out post 2562
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15790
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Pretty shallow.



Quoting bappit:

Pretty deep.


How do you not love this blog lol
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Quoting leo305:
@Pat/Levi/everyone

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/gmex/loop-wv.html

Alex has nearly stalled because of an upper level low that is pushing down on the system, you can see it clearly on WV, the system is feeling the upper levels more so than anyone suspected.. and the trough is next on its list.

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

it is feeling that ULL


THis is bad. It will intensify after being stalled, and then get scooped up by the trough up towards Texas. Worst case scenario is unfolding right now. Get prepared Texans...
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting tennisgirl08:


LOL. You sound excited! I do have to admit, though. that trough looks pretty strong in that image.


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....
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Quoting IKE:


I was thinking of that same question.


The SFMR has "issues" in shallow water, and the coorelation between flight level winds and the SFMR has not been that good. No doubt a TS, but I would be suprised if at 11 winds are higher than 40 kt.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 10933
2563. JDSmith
Hey guys, Just got back back from a 24 hour ban for goofing off. I apologize if there was any inconvenience yesterday.

But anyways.

The initial center fix on Alex seems like it could be slightly off due to proximity to land. The second fix might also be suffering the same problem.

My thinking is, in a couple of hours we'll be able to get a decent cross-section of the storm and we'll know just where It's at and where it's current heading'll take it.

It looked to me there for a while to be heading at 320degrees... However, I'm thinking that it has hit the ridge and is now meandering about until the trough is able to open up a slot for it to run through.

I'm expecting some random W-WSW movement over the course of the next few hours... Which, by chance, fits the center fixes that I've just knocked.

Eh... On second thought, I have no clue what's going on anymore.
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2562. 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.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127701
My hat is off to Weather Underground. I lived on the MS gulf coats when Katrina came thru and it was hell, but thatks to this site, I had enough time to get ready for it. Then, I moved to Houston and what happends, Ike comes along and once again, Weather Underground was there for me and my family. I trust this site and those who use it more than my local weather professionals hands down. Since Alex has come into being, I have this site pulled up at all times and just had to say how great all of your posts and information maps are.

Thank you!
MichelleRenee68
Houston / Galveston Texas
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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.

A condition called "Tropical Cyclone Psychosis"!!
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their going in for another vortex fix....
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Hi All,

Came back to check to see if there are any new model updates.....What are they showing now?
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Pretty shallow.

Well the measurement was a couple miles off the coast.
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2555. jpsb
Quoting bappit:

I think you have a bigger problem.
LMBO, very funny!
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2554. Levi32
Quoting leo305:
@Pat/Levi/everyone

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/gmex/loop-wv.html

Alex has nearly stalled because of an upper level low that is pushing down on the system, you can see it clearly on WV, the system is feeling the upper levels more so than anyone suspected.. and the trough is next on its list.

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

it is feeling that ULL


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:


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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.
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2552. bappit
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


How deep is the water in that area?

Pretty deep.
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Quoting bappit:

I like that sharp jog south in the middle. Fixing an oopsy they were.


I also like the northern motion.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15790
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


How deep is the water in that area?
It's a couple miles off the coast so I doubt it is shallow. A couple thousand feet I would say.
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2548. Bonz
Go here: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2010/ALEX.shtml?

There is also a link for a graphics archive.

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.
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2547. bappit
Quoting MrstormX:
According to 0z NAM, Alex will have hardly moved in 24 hours.


Look at the MIMIC loop posted by Skye a few minutes ago. That will alleviate your misconception.

EDIT: My mistake, I think. You are talking about future tense.
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2546. Grothar
Quoting TampaSpin:


Another good view of the approaching Trough


Have one with a little less haze???
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2544. IKE
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


How deep is the water in that area?


I was thinking of that same question.
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New track I made for Alex, a bit north of the last track, taking account to a northwestward movement after landfall.
Alex would have to fly north by tonight to hit LA in my opinion, I feel the best chance for a landfall at this time would be Southern Texas to Northern Mexico. The trough should pick it up, then as high builds to the west, should take either a strong hook westward, or keep going northwest as some model are showing. NOT WRITTEN IN STONE, just my opinion, observation.

Photobucket
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2541. jpsb
Quoting angiest:


There are some truly scary things out there, aren't there?
yes, definately, it is a miracle (and I really mean that) that we are alive on such a wonderful planet. We should take better care of it (earth) or it will take care of us (not good).
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Quoting bappit:

I think you have a bigger problem.
Lol, I was kidding.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Alex is already feeling the Trough.....LOOK WHERE he is pointing too.....Louisiana!!!! Look how the Clouds are also blowing from the trough......its going North and maybe even NE!!

Hang me if am wrong....but just be gentle when you do!





LOL. You sound excited! I do have to admit, though. that trough looks pretty strong in that image.
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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.