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 MiamiHurricanes09:
Doubt it.


How deep is the water in that area?
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2536. LSU791
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Are my eyes bad or did it move almost due N???

I thought it was just me. I am by know means an expert.
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How about need another 12 pack ... everyone hang on
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2534. 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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Quoting amd:


frictional flow of the coast, weak steering currents, combined with the inner core trying to reorganize, will lead to unusual movements while the core consolidates.

I would not be surprised if Alex moves in a tiny circle for a couple of more hours before finally moving toward the wnw/nw.
Very true, but I would not have guesses this severely. This stall combined with the new NAM run will stir the pot even more.
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2532. Patrap
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


Itsa doing zactly what ya said seems
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
2531. Grothar
Quoting atmoaggie:

Yeah, prime candidate...


Should be seeing these much later! Season starting off oddly, ya think?
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2530. bappit
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
LOL!! I need to pee but I don't want to leave...

I think you have a bigger problem.
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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


Is it possible to push Alex South then?
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2528. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
2527. Levi32
Quoting RecordSeason:
2507:

Is that a partially obscured eye?

Starting to look like it. Give another hour or two to be sure maybe...


This is for Taz too.....Alex does not have an eye.
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2526. bappit
Quoting BahaHurican:
Geez, I want to go get a drink of water, but I don't want to stop blogging long enough to walk to the kitchen.... lol

We won't go anywhere. Get a drink.
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2525. 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
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It's pretty lucky that Alex stalled just out over the GOM. If this would've happened over land it would be steadily weakening right now...
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Another good view of the approaching Trough
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2522. amd
Quoting SouthDadeFish:
Really is strange how Alex has just stalled unexpectedly off the coast. Its been a few hours now with no movement. Very unusual storm.


frictional flow of the coast, weak steering currents, combined with the inner core trying to reorganize, will lead to unusual movements while the core consolidates.

I would not be surprised if Alex moves in a tiny circle for a couple of more hours before finally moving toward the wnw/nw.
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Quoting MrstormX:
According to 0z NAM, Alex will have hardly moved in 24 hours.



...Which would lead to intensification of the system.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
2520. bappit
Quoting Skyepony:
Wow..Alex on MIMIC

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



Where they affected by shoaling (shallow water)?
Doubt it.
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Quoting YourCommonSense:



that number is a lot different than what i juts read but ill still take it. 3,000 a day times 31 is better than what we got now.
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2517. Patrap
Floater - Funktop Color Infrared Loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
Quoting MrstormX:


Alex seems to be strengthening. Wrapping around itself, looks like what you can see the COC more in this pic.
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2515. MZV
Quoting Grothar:


Just move your refrigerator next to your PC like I did. Saves time.

LOL, I took over the dining room. The fridge is about 4 steps behind me
Member Since: July 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 227
According to 0z NAM, Alex will have hardly moved in 24 hours.

Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
I see bonnie,and colin...


All I see is my computer screen.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Flight level winds of 46 knots. Alex should be a 40mph system at 11PM. By the way, they are uncontaminated



Where they affected by shoaling (shallow water)?
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2510. guygee
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
LOL! Ok?
Sal'right Miami!
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Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
2507. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
2506. bappit
Quoting pipelines:
it's scary that we are so unsure of Alex's path just a few days out, we've come a long way......but have an even longer way to go. In the end we are all still elementary students of earth.

Oh, please. Everyone knows that in the end we are all dead.
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Quoting Levi32:


That was supposed to be the tropical wave behind Alex, which obviously never went that far north, but instead went west and got absorbed by Alex.


oh ok, well the ULL is showing something at the surface
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???

The "center" has moved back over land it seems.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
Baltimorebirds..."fowl language"..is that chicken, duck or turkey??? Or should we just call "foul" on this post? LOL
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Quoting Grothar:


Have you seen this atmo?

Quoting Levi32:


I'd have to say at this point I find a landfall in northern Mexico or southern Texas more likely than a landfall in northeast Texas or Louisiana. The ridge building back in to the north of Alex as it approaches the NW gulf should curve it back towards the west and not allow it to get that far north, but it is a fragile situation so if I lived in that area I would be watching it very closely, as the GFS and CMC have been very consistent with their solution.


Thank you for your input Levi!
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Really is strange how Alex has just stalled unexpectedly off the coast. Its been a few hours now with no movement. Very unusual storm.
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I know this is premature but if it makes landfall in n texas how big is the swells going to be to push the oil on shore in MS?
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2499. Levi32
Quoting louisianaboy444:


What could this do for track?


See post 2441.
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is it my eyes playing tricks, or is Alex going southwest now?
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Quoting Grothar:


Have you seen this atmo?


Yeah, prime candidate...
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Quoting TampaSpin:



For now Yes but, we might need the BAMD later but, lets hope not.


Lol, yes, of course. Where do you think this is going? I think this will make landfall in S. Texas.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
2494. Levi32
Quoting Hurricanes101:
Didn't some of the models have a system in the long range in the Bahamas around this time frame?

ULL working down to the surface?

Coincidence?


That was supposed to be the tropical wave behind Alex, which obviously never went that far north, but instead went west and got absorbed by Alex.
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2493. Grothar
Quoting BahaHurican:
Geez, I want to go get a drink of water, but I don't want to stop blogging long enough to walk to the kitchen.... lol


Just move your refrigerator next to your PC like I did. Saves time.
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Quoting Levi32:
What's interesting is that not a single model has showed a motion this slow upon exiting the Yucatan. The NHC's next forecast point for 6z is 64 miles away from Alex's current position, and it has 4 hours to get there. That means he needs a speed of 16mph to make the deadline of the forecast, and he's currently moving at a quarter of that.

The only thing I can see that might cause this stalling and slight SW drift is the Yucatan's frictional effects holding onto Alex and not wanting to let him go. A SW drift would be the appropriate motion in such a case. Perhaps Alex will suddenly break away at some point tonight and resume a faster NW course. For now, he is behind everybody's schedule.





What could this do for track?
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Quoting IKE:


TMI
Hahaha.
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Quoting guygee:
Baltimorebirds using fowl language should be OK, but MiamiHurricanes using foul language should be bannable.
LOL! Ok?
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2488. angiest
Quoting jpsb:
BTW, while trying to keep up with this blog I am listening to the science channel talk about gamma ray bursts and black holes. Makes me feel much better about Alex.


There are some truly scary things out there, aren't there?
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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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