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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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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2487. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
LOL!! I need to pee but I don't want to leave...


TMI
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2486. guygee
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
That's not fair.I get banned for putting one letter in qoutation marks(the letter h).And I get banned for using fowl language.
Baltimorebirds using fowl language should be OK, but MiamiHurricanes using foul language should be bannable.
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2485. Torgen
Hey guys, just checking in before I call it an early night. Alex still keeping us all in suspenders?
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2484. 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.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1193
2483. Levi32
Quoting lopaka001:

Was going to ask if you agree with Dr Masters projected path he posted earlier?


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.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
I'm out until tomorrow. Have a good evening all.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
2481. Patrap
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Hey there!
Yeah, Subterranean weather is a little like San Diego weather...but jealous of your adventures. Expect to do a bit of that later this month in the Great Smokies later this month. Hopefully worth the drive...


The Smokies?? I wish I could get out there as well. But you won't be disappointed anyway you look at it! My kids are following steadfast as well. Geoscience majors in the making.

Seems the models aren't handling the weak steering currents in the later hours of the forecast period for Alex. It looks like everyone's yard is going to have a good chance at getting a drink west of the Mississippi.

What's your take? I haven't had to much time to stew over the data. No service underground left me in the dark for 3 days.

I do have some concerns with CONUS weather and Alex interaction. Timing & intensity, as always, are the main variables. And Upper TX coast is looking more confident
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Quoting jpsb:
Yes you did and now there is mass panic and evacuations taking place from Tx to Fla. (Joking)
LMAO!!
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Devastating if this thing turned N then NE over the oil spill and plowed into Florida panhandle, like a Opal


Check out this wave swell graphic:

http://magicseaweed.com/Gulf-Coast-MSW-Surf-Charts/9/

Even with Alex staying to the west, the North Central Gulf Coast is going to have big problems with oil getting carried into shore.
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Quoting Grothar:


Have you seen this atmo?



ugh this season is going to be so bad.
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According to Accuweather and our local mets they think that Alex will be far away from the oil spill....
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Quoting Skyepony:
Wow..Alex on MIMIC




HEY SKY PLZ TELL ME YOU SEE A CLOSED EYE WALL



Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115248
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?
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Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15920
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
That's not fair.I get banned for putting one letter in qoutation marks(the letter h).And I get banned for using fowl language.
Fowl language? Were you writing in duck-talk(quack)?
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2467. jpsb
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Damn! Lol, how did I mess that one up?
Yes you did and now there is mass panic and evacuations taking place from Tx to Fla. (Joking)
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1193
Quoting Levi32:


Quality control flags...indicating which readings may be suspect.


So.. if it's a 3 it's suspect data or something?
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
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
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2464. Grothar
Quoting atmoaggie:
If the GFS MJO mutterings came true, we'd have 2 more named storms before July 15...and, prolly,at least one CV storm very early.



Have you seen this atmo?

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Quoting Tazmanian:




TURST ME YOU GUYS ZOOM IN IF YOU HAVE TOO BUT TRUST ME THERE IS A CLOSED EYE NOT OPEN BUT ITS THERE






TURSET ME ITS THERE



YOU MAY EVEN SEE IT BETTER WITH THIS ONE



taz that's just a dry slot, it is impossible for it to have a closed eye at this point. It will take 24 hours + for it to have a closed eye and even that is really pushing it.
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


There he goes again LOL jk
You people are killing me, LMAO!
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Quoting Patrap:
HAL 9000: Dr. Floyd?

Dr. Heywood Floyd: What is it HAL?

HAL 9000: There is a message for you.

Dr. Heywood Floyd: Who's calling?

HAL 9000: There is no identification.

Dr. Heywood Floyd: What's the message?

HAL 9000: Message as follows: "It is dangerous to remain here. You must leave within two days."

Dr. Heywood Floyd: What?



HAL 9000: Who is JFV ?






-snickers-
Roger: What?
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2460. xcool



wowwwwww
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
2459. Skyepony (Mod)
Wow..Alex on MIMIC
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
ROFLMAO!


There he goes again LOL jk
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
That's not fair.I get banned for putting one letter in qoutation marks(the letter h).And I get banned for using fowl language.
Ok? That's your problem, not mine.
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2456. leo305
Quoting Mikla:
Wider view Water Vapor...

Wider view 850 hPa Relative Vorticity...


upper level low north of PR is starting to get down into the surface
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:

Dang you are 13...does yoru mom know you use that language...where is the soap haha.
ROFLMAO!
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2454. Patrap
HAL 9000: Dr. Floyd?

Dr. Heywood Floyd: What is it HAL?

HAL 9000: There is a message for you.

Dr. Heywood Floyd: Who's calling?

HAL 9000: There is no identification.

Dr. Heywood Floyd: What's the message?

HAL 9000: Message as follows: "It is dangerous to remain here. You must leave within two days."

Dr. Heywood Floyd: What?



HAL 9000: Who is JFV ?




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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.



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.



Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Don't you get it globalwarming????.If you have notice people are ignoring you.


and with those quotes fun little quirk for hurricane season
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Quoting Levi32:


Storm just left. I'm here for a bit.

Was going to ask if you agree with Dr Masters projected path he posted earlier?
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2451. K8eCane
Alex is gonna be a cane before the sun comes up in the east, and it aint gonna touch Texas....mark this post
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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.
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2449. Levi32
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


And the next column after surface winds is the rain rate in mm per hour, but what's after that? The last column?


Quality control flags...indicating which readings may be suspect.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Damn! Lol, how did I mess that one up?

Dang you are 13...does yoru mom know you use that language...where is the soap haha.
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0z NAM running
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Quoting Levi32:


You're highlighting flight-level winds. SFMR surface winds are the next column over.


And the next column after surface winds is the rain rate in mm per hour, but what's after that? The last column?
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Where's the eye taz.




TURST ME YOU GUYS ZOOM IN IF YOU HAVE TOO BUT TRUST ME THERE IS A CLOSED EYE NOT OPEN BUT ITS THERE






TURSET ME ITS THERE



YOU MAY EVEN SEE IT BETTER WITH THIS ONE


Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115248
2443. bappit
2401

Interesting observation about the slow movement. I doubt land interaction is the direct culprit, but maybe indirectly. I think a storm that was not reorganizing would move more predictably.
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Quoting leo305:
@levi

What's going to make it go NE once it's over land? If it slows down right now.. wouldn't that NE turn come earlier?


Yup.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
2441. Levi32
Quoting leo305:
@levi

What's going to make it go NE once it's over land? If it slows down right now.. wouldn't that NE turn come earlier?


It's not going to go back over land...unless you're talking about after landfall on the NW gulf coast. The models can't even agree on whether it will recurve NE after landfall. Basically, if it takes the northern route to NE Texas or LA, it will recurve northeast. If it takes the westward route into southern Texas or northern Mexico, it might not recurve at all.

As for whether that turn would occur earlier, yes a significant slowdown of Alex for a significant period of time would allow the steering pattern to evolve ahead of schedule, but that could actually result in a turn back towards the west earlier than currently forecast because of the ridge building back in to the north before Alex has time to gain much latitude, which would ultimately lead to a more southerly track for Alex. Any significant change in track due to timing, though, would have to come from a big slowdown over a long period of time, and unless Alex remains this slow for another 6-12 hours, it likely won't have much effect on his track.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Quoting jaevortex:


..... and what proof do you have of this nonsense?


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.
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Quoting efallon28:


That's true, but RECON did find a 50.6 mph surface level wind.
That's true. IMO, Alex should be upgraded to a 50mph system.
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Sorry got to post this...did you all see BP bought 32 of those Kevin Kostner machines and one machine can sort 210,000 gallons a day. Dude that is almost 6 million a day if all 32 are deployed. What are they waiting for? Oh yea BP to send the check according to the article I just read. Man that coudl help out a ton. Hope they work but they did just get approved.
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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.