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 tropicfreak:


Are you talking about Jeanne in 04'?


That was a strange one.. Even here in Macon, GA we had a state of emergency declared because of flooding after it's center passed directly over us as a depression or TS can't remember. Nothing nearly as bad as what FL got for sure!
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
1187. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Oil just washed up at Ocean Springs MS
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973 mb landfall near Galveston? Sounds similar to a certain 1983 storm. I'll stay home for that ride...
Seriously, we could use something to break this heat in SE Texas, and Houston metro area is around 11" below annual rainfall average.
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Analog Tracks



We would need a trof similar to this to pull off a GFS/CMC

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Quoting skepticall2:


Yea he ain't banned his blog is still open.


His blog would only be taken off if he was perma-banned.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Acemmett90 is still here look at post 1021 he not banned
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115605
Quoting connie1976:
Thanks Storm! I worry about the oil.... I remember one storm that did a u-turn and came back to Florida......that was strange......


Are you talking about Jeanne in 04'?
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Quoting tropicfreak:
what did he do.


I was just asking... I'm not sure where he is at
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1176. ATL
Quoting bayoubug:
all those weather poeple can't say what they wanna say on t.v. PUPPETS....

What are you trying to say? That TV mets are holding something back?
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Im not sure.

I doubt he's banned.



Thanks. Will give him a WU Mail shout
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
Quoting PanhandleChuck:


Banned?
what did he do.
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all those weather poeple can't say what they wanna say on t.v. PUPPETS....
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1171. ATL
Quoting Snowlover123:
Poll: Which Model?

Which model do you think has the best track?

A. CMC

B. ECMWF

C. GFS

D. UKMET

E. HWRF

F. GDFL

or G. Other


B...but it's all relative. The Euro is too far south methinks, but there is little chance of Alex catching the trough and getting a ride up to Houston/central TX coast.
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Quoting Snowlover123:


ECMWF is a tad south for me. I like the HWRF, because it goes with my thinking for South Texas.



Same here, both of their tracks sounded reasonable, but the one that really stood out was HRWF model
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Quoting kmanislander:
Any sign of Drak today ?


Hmm.. He was absent yesterday too.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting kmanislander:


Where ?


Im not sure.

I doubt he's banned.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15951
My local weather idiot (KFDM Beaumont) just said landfall south of Brownsville..models have been consistent with the track of Alex, maybe a Hurricane at landfall.

LOL...LOL...LOL
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Quoting PanhandleChuck:


Banned?



oh?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115605
1163. jpsb
Quoting Weather456:


Last time I ate crow was with 92L in the EATL. Anything else?
Lol, I'd be having a plate of crow too, but I kept my mouth shut, lol, did not think 92L would RIP.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1463
Quoting gordydunnot:
I haven't heard any talk about shear it doesn't look so good for development the farther north the storm tracks.


Look at the shear tendency maps.

http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/atlantic/winds/wg8sht.GIF
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Quoting Jebekarue:
Quoting frostynugs:
Just got back from a stroll on the beaches of gulf shores... one of the most depressing moments of my life. It smells like an auto garage, is covered in thick tar (not just tar balls anymore), and NOT ONE single worker out there cleaning any of it up. Mobile bay also has a lot of crap in it now, brown foam by the shorelines and around plants sticking out of the water, and I swear i saw a few tar mats/balls floating around just beneath the surface as well while crossing the bay bridge.

I'm just a lurker mostly, but had to comment on this, Frosty, my husband is a foreman on Pcola beach helping with the cleanup. I just wanted to let you know that because of the heat (black flag) with heat indexes over 105 they are only allowed to work in 10 minute increments. 10 on 50 off. I know I feel as frustrated as you do but with the heat there isn't a whole lot that can be done. They only have so many people working and rotating out every 10 minutes is pretty hard to keep people working all day long. Yesterday my husbands team bagged up over 400 bags of tar/mousse and balls. To be honest, as long as the oil is gushing out no matter how many hours these people work, how many bags they fill up, its not going to make much difference until its plugged up.


Quoting CapeObserver:
I'm just a lurker mostly, but had to comment on this, Frosty, my husband is a foreman on Pcola beach helping with the cleanup. I just wanted to let you know that because of the heat (black flag) with heat indexes over 105 they are only allowed to work in 10 minute increments. 10 on 50 off. I know I feel as frustrated as you do but with the heat there isn't a whole lot that can be done. They only have so many people working and rotating out every 10 minutes is pretty hard to keep people working all day long. Yesterday my husbands team bagged up over 400 bags of tar/mousse and balls. To be honest, as long as the oil is gushing out no matter how many hours these people work, how many bags they fill up, its not going to make much difference until its plugged up.

I don't know if anyone knows this but this 10/50 rule is not a BP rule, it's an OSHA rule. It is supposed to apply to anyone working outdoors in a heat index above a certain temp. I, for one, was not aware of this. Living in SW FL, I do not see this rule in place at construction sites or lawn maintenance or any other outdoor occupations. I find it odd that it is being strictly enforced on the beaches yet no where else.


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Quoting tropicfreak:


B and E


ECMWF is a tad south for me. I like the HWRF, because it goes with my thinking for South Texas.

Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Hes still gone...



Where ?
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Hes still gone...



Banned?
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1157. hydrus
Quoting GetReal:
For the want to be meteorologist, I have a suggestion. Spend a little more time learning to read surface maps, and interpreting WV satellite pics, and rely a little less on computer models more than 48 hours out....

Just a suggestion, it does appear to be a lost art.
................Is the sub-tropical jet forecast to return to the Gulf? Looks like its trying..Link
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Thanks Storm! I worry about the oil.... I remember one storm that did a u-turn and came back to Florida......that was strange......
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Quoting Snowlover123:
Poll: Which Model?

Which model do you think has the best track?

A. CMC

B. ECMWF

C. GFS

D. UKMET

E. HWRF

F. GDFL

or G. Other


B and E
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Quoting kmanislander:
Any sign of Drak today ?


Hes still gone...

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15951
Quoting Snowlover123:
Poll: Which Model?

Which model do you think has the best track?

A. CMC

B. ECMWF

C. GFS

D. UKMET

E. HWRF

F. GDFL

or G. Other


I'm going with E. The HWRF
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting gordydunnot:
I haven't heard any talk about shear it doesn't look so good for development the farther north the storm tracks.


Did you even read the blog right above you?
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15951
1151. xcool
a-c here
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15694
Any sign of Drak today ?
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
Quoting CybrTeddy:
I exit out of WU, go to facebook.. and 5 seconds later I'm on WU again looking at Alex.


I have that same problem! ROFL! I decide I'm gonna take a break from Alex and check in later, so I go to another site, get off the computer and actually do something, and then when I check back, I notice the time on my computer has only moved 1 minute! LOL
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
I haven't heard any talk about shear it doesn't look so good for development the farther north the storm tracks.
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I seemed to have accidentally deleted my link to the website launching the google earth flight tracker. Tried googling it and somehow screwed that up. Anyone have a link they care to share?
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A and C
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I'm back, I was summond (by the wife) to remove one of the ugliest walking sticks I have ever seen. Looked it up on the internet and now I know why my eye's were stinging. Uh, by the way it two of them if you know what I mean. The page I found said that is emits a nasty spray which is irritating to the eyes and mucas membranes. Just and FYI for anyone who comes across an; http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/walkingstick.htm
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I exit out of WU, go to facebook.. and 5 seconds later I'm on WU again looking at Alex.
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Recon about 90 miles due N of the NW tip of the Yucatan
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
Lurking for 3 years and rarely posting. Maybe just frustration from the oil spill and TS is bringing me out to post. Or maybe I'm just having a bad day LOL.

When you come on the blog, please take the time to go back a few pages and catch up on the discussion. To pop on here, and ask to be updated on everything going on takes up valuable time and space. And to ask questions that have been covered in depth for the previous hour or two is selfish IMO. It's only common courtesy. I know this has been requested over and over again, but just felt like offering up a reminder.

And thanks to Storm, Levi, Tampa and all those who provide such wonderful info for us all.
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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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