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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18z GFS a little farther west than the 12z in 66 hours.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
Quoting ATL:
So is recon flying tonight?
They're currently on there way to investigate Alex's COC.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
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Quoting Hhunter:
for everyone but chuck...bastardi also is saying this season is set up now with some new data to be almost as bad as 2005 a top 2 or 3 all time active season. A step beyond even where he was a couple of weeks ago..


Didn't mean to strike a nerve, I just believe that we (everyone) are a long way off from figuring out the behavior of TC's. No hard feelings.
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881. ATL
So is recon flying tonight?
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Quoting txag91met:
Way north...not around the center.


It's a great and very normal start...don't expect a CDO to pop up directly over the center right away. This will take some time....may not really start to ramp up until tomorrow night, when it will probably be approaching the intensity it was at when it made landfall in Belize.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
822. Agreed
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Quoting txag91met:
Way north...not around the center.


I did say North of the center but if you look at it closely it rolls right into the center on the W side.
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The 18z GFS initialized perfectly, not too far north at all.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
The 18z GFS has a strong system east of Brownsville.

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18z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
Alex
Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)





Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)






Early Model Wind Forecasts

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
thanks!
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Quoting txag91met:
Way north...not around the center.


I dont think that was the point of his post
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Quoting kmanislander:


Not over yet though.
Part 2 begins now...
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting kmanislander:
E to W banding of deep convection reestablishing itself N of the center.

Way north...not around the center.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


I do too, but I also think the ECMWF is too far south
A central Texas landfall is my best guess at the moment.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Patrap, sorry didnt see that.
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Quoting Acemmett90:

thank god for bp it hit land


Not over yet though.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


I agree that the GFS is too north.


I do too, but I also think the ECMWF is too far south
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Quoting txag91met:
ECMWF going to win this...GFS op is too far north on its initialization (18z).


I agree that the GFS is too north.
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Quoting connie1976:
where can I find a picture of the waves coming off of Africa? Thanks all!
Eumetsat

I have more links but I'm not on my main computer so that's the only one I can provide you with.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
860. xcool
txag91met .we find out huh.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
WAVETRAK - Tropical Wave Tracking
Product Descriptions | 7-Day Image Archive
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
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it is 99.7 degrees here in northern california
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855. jpsb
Quoting Hhunter:
bastardi saying the texas coast mid texas coast to Houston really in play here
I could have gone all summer without hearing that. JB is a bit of a sensationalist. Helps to sell his products.
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ECMWF going to win this...GFS op is too far north on its initialization (18z).
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Quoting tennisgirl08:


LOL...no. I am just saying that if they start forecasting a movement towards the NNW or NW, then that would take the storm closer to the rig area - which, thus, would provoke the shut down procedures. There is no need for that right now b/c they are not 100% sure of track, yet. No need to stop capping the oil flow right now for Alex - based on a few model runs, who is not really expected to come near the rig area anyway. That is all I am saying.
Quoting tennisgirl08:


LOL...no. I am just saying that if they start forecasting a movement towards the NNW or NW, then that would take the storm closer to the rig area - which, thus, would provoke the shut down procedures. There is no need for that right now b/c they are not 100% sure of track, yet. No need to stop capping the oil flow right now for Alex - based on a few model runs, who is not really expected to come near the rig area anyway. That is all I am saying.
I didn't mean to sound sarcastic. I don't know the logistics of off shore drilling or their clean up activities, but I know do know that on shore that shutting down a chemical plant or refinery can take a few days. The time span from shutting down and getting back up to full rates can sometimes be 2 weeks. At my plant alone, it is several millions of dollars a day. There are over 200 plus plants in the greater Houston area, this doesn't include the plants from Corpus Christi to New Orleans. They are trying to balance a decision between shutting down prematurely but still shutting down in time to do it safely and letting their personnel take care of their homes, etc. I do understand your concern though.
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I posted a comment about 30 minutes ago stating ALEX has gone Null in motion or really slowed.


Floater - Rainbow Color Infrared Loop

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
E to W banding of deep convection reestablishing itself N of the center.

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where can I find a picture of the waves coming off of Africa? Thanks all!
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849. xcool
SORRY JFV HE CANNOT POSTING.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
848. xcool
btwntx08 hell mrs ROB .
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting Hurricanes101:


well blah lol
Lol.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
GOM 120 Hour Water Surface Temperature Forecast
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting GlobalWarming:
senior chief, plz post abstardi's video?


It's on his Accuweather.com Pro site.
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Please! Do not crash the tropical Atlantic site! LOL!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
looks stalled or even moving...nevermind, everyone would freak out on here nowadays

Link
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Quoting StormJunkie:


Afternoon all.

TH, That's the GHCC site. The first link under imagery here. It is typically the site that updates images the most frequently and fastest. One of my favorite imagery sites.

Posting a new blog at some point this evening...About South Carolina's Monkey Island. Only accessible by boat. Went out and took some pics this morning.
Thanks!
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
It updates every hour but if you post it on the blog it won't update.


well blah lol
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Thank you dropsonde. Couldn't have said it better myself!
Member Since: July 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1242
The Blob coming off Africa looks the most impressive yet. If this was August I might be boarding up all ready. Think we might have to leave them up for 2 or three months this year. Sad to say.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3113

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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.