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 WildWillyFL:
Not stirring the pot, but I went to stormpost.com and 8 out of the 10 models were north of NHC, I just thought that it was strange. I live on the Florida coast and beaches and water sports are the reason people live in my community. Our lifestyle is being destroyed. I don't want to be lied too.
Can I make a suggestion? You might want to take a little time to learn how the models work and how NHC's forecast track works - i.e. how they come up with it. They have a lot of info about it on their website. One important thing to understand is that the models are run at different times from when NHC's forecast is posted. So the NHC forecast you are looking at may be 6 hours old while the models u are looking at are only 2 hours old. Another important thing is that NHC forecast track includes info from ALL the models, plus climatology, historical data, current weather data, and information that is part of the forecasters' personal knowledge database. In the end, we've found that NHC track is usually pretty close to actual track in post-storm analysis.

However, I recommend if you don't want to be lied to that you should learn more about the models and how they work so that you can interpret them for yourself.
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2136. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Dakster:


If the CMC verifies and Alex hits LA, Alex will turn your power off for you...
for 6 weeks
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53553
2135. Dakster
Quoting charlottefl:


It's a male, the names alternate male/female or female/male down the list, depending on the year, so next year will start out with a male name, and the following, a female name.

Edit: This is for the E. Pac. The Atlantic is the opposite, obviously with Alex as our first storm.


I know... It was a joke, meaning that Hurricanes are "male" or "female" because WE name them that way... Not because they actually are male or female...
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Quoting Patrap:


O boy..

LOL







lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114956
Pretty amazing that Alex pulled off 991mb after a day over land. Its massive circulation is really helpin this thing. Firing convection already right over the center. Will be a very interesting night!! Can't believe this is June.
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Quoting guygee:


Not looking very far to the right of the NHC track as of the vortex msg. Slow on the draw and approximate.


I'm pretty the last coordinates were 19.2 90.9 NOT 91.1... you making up your own coordinates? lol
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Quoting Dakster:


If the CMC verifies and Alex hits LA, Alex will turn your power off for you...


I know that was the joke! :)
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Quoting Dakster:


If the CMC verifies and Alex hits LA, Alex will turn your power off for you...
lol
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Quoting louisianaboy444:


Make you a bet if the CMC verifies and hits LA i'll turn my power off for 3 days


just saying you can't throw it out. All the 0Z models have shifted even more north.
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Who thinks this will reach major hurricane status.



me if not crow for me for life
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114956
Quoting Tazmanian:



is that a start of a small eye


That's been the COC for the past few hours..
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Quoting Levi32:
Alex is barely moving, if at all.
Not good. It if becomes stationary in the middle of the GOM that would be worse-case scenario. Let's hope this trend does not continue.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21122
Quoting Patrap:


O boy..

LOL



That's just wrong....LMAO
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Quoting Patrap:


O boy..

LOL





That's just gone too far.. LOL i think he deleted his post.. good, the admins have been cracking down hard lately :P
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting Patrap:
G-4 goes wheels up Monday evening
After that data gets incorporated into the models, in addition to seeing how the cyclone progresses tomorrow.... we should have an accurate consensus(hopefully) model output.
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Alex isnt wasting any time regaining strength I see.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
I truly am learning here. So, you all are saying the Cone of uncertainity is done based on history and not by Models.....Do me that seems like they need to reconsider that issue if that is accurate. Thanks!


Link
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11073
2118. MahFL
45 kts again
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Quoting Levi32:
Alex is barely moving.



thats bad news it could be come a vary power hurricane
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114956
2116. Dakster
Quoting louisianaboy444:


Make you a bet if the CMC verifies and hits LA i'll turn my power off for 3 days


If the CMC verifies and Alex hits LA, Alex will turn your power off for you...
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Anyways thanks everyone for helping the newbie get his feet wet into the fascinating world of tropical storms, but I'm off to see a movie. It's a wait and see game with Alex as with all of these storms, have fun everyone and play nice tonight :)
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2114. hydrus
Quoting atmoaggie:

Last night, before the 00 z models, I called the N Gulf TX solution a small, tiny chance. Still close to that small chance, but slightly increased, for now.

N Mex to Corpus is my figuring, atm. BUT, 00 Z models and 12 Z models tomorrow will have a lot of sway, IMO. (but hopefully without a lot of sway...you know what I mean)
I will make a guess tomorrow when the models have a better hold on the circulation. Grothar seemed to nail it yesterday With a more northerly turn as it emerged over water.
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2113. Levi32
Alex is barely moving, if at all.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26601
2112. guygee


Not looking very far to the right of the NHC track as of the vortex msg. Slow on the draw and approximate.
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Quoting Dakster:


How can you tell if a hurricane is male or female???

You can't exactly lift up its CDO and check it out....


It's a male, the names alternate male/female or female/male down the list, depending on the year, so next year will start out with a male name, and the following, a female name.

Edit: This is for the E. Pac. The Atlantic is the opposite, obviously with Alex as our first storm.
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2078 Bandit what's your 20, I'm west bound and down.
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2109. Patrap
Oil vey...



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Quoting Tazmanian:



is that a start of a small eye


I see it too.
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2107. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
01L/TS/A/CX
MARK
19.4N/92.2W

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53553
Quoting louisianaboy444:


Make you a bet if the CMC verifies and hits LA i'll turn my power off for 3 days



lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114956
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


CMC has been the most accurate the last 2 years...


Make you a bet if the CMC verifies and hits LA i'll turn my power off for 3 days
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Quoting Patrap:


That will help with the Tuesday Solutions Kman..big time


Yep. I think they see this as potentially more than they were thinking, hence the decision to pool every resource available. Interests in the N GOM must have the phones ringing off the hook for answers.
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Quoting Levi32:


Probabilities are needed for a lot of things in weather forecasting but there is no need to try to be so specific with development potential, for instance. I go with "low" "moderate" or "high" chances of development. And making a probability forecast for landfall is kind of pointless....even the NHC just goes with a cone of uncertainty. That's all I do....section of coastline that it might make landfall on.
The NHC used to issue a landfall probability chart. I found that product useful, but you have to understand both probability analysis on a college level and meteorology(at least a basic understanding of storm effects quadrant-wise) to make that product useful. Since the general public and even most mets lacks the combo, especially the probability class(es)...the product was discontinued.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Starting to cover the COC. A CDO should begin to develop soon.


Its a shame were are losing the visible satellite images, hopefully ir can makeup the difference..
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
2100. Dakster
Quoting connie1976:
Where is Alex going......Mexico or Texas?


yes is about the best anyone can answer you for the moment.
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Quoting Dakster:


How can you tell if a hurricane is male or female???

You can't exactly lift up its CDO and check it out....


LOL!!!!!!!
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
I truly am learning here. So, you all are saying the Cone of uncertainity is done based on history and not by Models.....Do me that seems like they need to reconsider that issue if that is accurate. Thanks!
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2097. Patrap
Air temps cooler that the Local SST Ike

Jui---cy

5-day plot - Air Temperature Air Temperature (ATMP): 84.4 °F
5-day plot - Water Temperature Water Temperature (WTMP): 85.6 °F
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Quoting USSINS:



Who does? But, that's the way of the world, and you can bet all you have that we've been lied to from the very beginning on this oil gusher deal.


Right-o.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Some of them are embedded in pages of links.

The WU tropical page (scroll down): http://www.wunderground.com/tropical/
stormjunkie.com
http://adriansweather.com/
My personal favorites (somewhat needs updating): http://www.wunderground.com/blog/atmoaggie/comment.html?entrynum=2


Thanks atmoaggie!
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its going too Texas
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114956
Hey Storm & Tampa

You guys answered alot of my questioms b4 Ike landfall... so im hearing that Alex may come to the upper TX coast, What are yall thoughts on that?
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2090. Levi32
Pressure down to 997mb as they approach the center again.

000
URNT15 KNHC 280103
AF304 0401A ALEX HDOB 27 20100628
005400 1853N 09205W 9253 00665 9988 202 171 335026 027 036 009 00
005430 1854N 09204W 9247 00670 9985 209 167 338028 029 033 009 00
005500 1854N 09202W 9250 00667 9985 207 163 348023 024 034 008 00
005530 1855N 09201W 9248 00668 9983 211 159 349023 024 033 005 00
005600 1856N 09159W 9249 00666 9983 208 158 348022 023 032 005 00
005630 1856N 09158W 9249 00666 9983 207 157 348021 022 033 009 00
005700 1857N 09156W 9248 00665 9982 206 155 348021 021 033 009 00
005730 1858N 09155W 9249 00663 9982 208 155 352022 022 035 008 00
005800 1858N 09153W 9248 00663 9980 210 154 352023 024 033 007 00
005830 1859N 09152W 9249 00661 9978 210 154 351024 025 031 008 00
005900 1900N 09151W 9248 00661 9978 210 154 349025 026 029 008 00
005930 1900N 09149W 9249 00659 9977 210 154 345029 031 031 005 00
010000 1901N 09148W 9248 00661 9977 201 154 344024 026 032 006 00
010030 1902N 09146W 9249 00658 9975 211 154 350022 022 029 003 00
010100 1902N 09145W 9248 00660 9975 209 154 350022 022 028 005 00
010130 1903N 09143W 9248 00658 9978 188 156 348022 023 037 012 03
010200 1904N 09142W 9257 00649 9974 205 156 359024 024 028 002 00
010230 1904N 09140W 9247 00659 9973 208 155 354024 025 026 000 03
010300 1904N 09139W 9243 00660 9971 208 157 352025 026 028 002 00
010330 1905N 09137W 9252 00652 9969 207 160 355025 025 026 003 00
$$
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26601
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Interesting

Convection starting to cover the COC. A CDO should begin to develop soon.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21122
2088. USSINS
Quoting WildWillyFL:
Not stirring the pot, but I went to stormpost.com and 8 out of the 10 models were north of NHC, I just thought that it was strange. I live on the Florida coast and beaches and water sports are the reason people live in my community. Our lifestyle is being destroyed. I don't want to be lied too.



Who does? But, that's the way of the world, and you can bet all you have that we've been lied to from the very beginning on this oil gusher deal.
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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.