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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Just wondering, but will that new low that just popped up in northeast Texas have any affect on Alex's path?

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Quoting TexasHurricane:


so , I guess you are still thinking this?


Sure am.
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Link

Im not sure this is correct but it may explain the lack of development tonight. Its showing 20kts of shear on Alex.
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Quoting CaneAddict:




My forecast..created this morning.


so , I guess you are still thinking this?
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Quoting txsweetpea:


Hey I was just able to get on the blog and I am wondering what are yalls thoughts on Alex? I truly want info....Last I heard is that It may be a tx/la hurricane ...didnt even find out what catagory. Any info appreciated.




My forecast..created this afternoon.
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Quoting txsweetpea:


Hey I was just able to get on the blog and I am wondering what are yalls thoughts on Alex? I truly want info....Last I heard is that It may be a tx/la hurricane ...didnt even find out what catagory. Any info appreciated.


kinda seems the same....some say Mexico,some say around Brownsville to central TX coast and so on. I really don't know, all this back and forth is driving me crazy....hopefully we will have more of an idea soon. Sorry if this isn't much help.
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The new para GFS is better than the operational GFS.
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Alex Vortex (6/28 05:08:30Z): MSLP: 991mb (extrap); Inbound Flt. Lvl. Wind (Item F.): 23kts (~26.4mph); Max Flt. Wind (from Remarks): 50kts (~57.5mph) (View Data)
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3380. xcool
CaneAddict YEP .
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Off to bed...However don't be surprised if you wake up tomorrow with Alex completely disobeying the rules.
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3378. xcool
oh ROB YOU FRIEND IS HERE SykKid 5
LOLOL
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Quoting jlp09550:


Which imagery are you looking at?

post 3356
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3376. fsumet
Quoting SykKid:
Models shifting south. Looks like a Mexico landfall for sure.


Huh? The only model that shifted south was the CMC. NOGAPS shifted north and HWRF, GFDL, and GFS were almost exactly the same.
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


so what are your thoughts on it?

Hey I was just able to get on the blog and I am wondering what are yalls thoughts on Alex? I truly want info....Last I heard is that It may be a tx/la hurricane ...didnt even find out what catagory. Any info appreciated.
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Quoting Fl30258713:


I'm not seeing movement. Maybe a wobble? But I don't see anything resembling momentum.

I wonder what the SST are down to where Alex is positioned? As Alex uses that energy and displaces the heat in the water without forward direction, that will take some steam out of Alex. I think anyway. What say ye?


SSTs are more than adequate for some short-term intensification in the area, but TCHP, what really matters, is another matter entirely:

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Quoting sarahjola:
i think i see a tight little spin ne of current coc. is he relocating?


Which imagery are you looking at?
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i think i see a tight little spin ne of current coc. is he relocating?
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3370. xcool
euro come out now. i posting itt
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3369. emguy
Quoting jlp09550:
Could the last frame of this animation be a clue he's on the move/relocating?



It's all speculative on my end, but much worth watching a little longer. Alex is trying to put up some new storms closer to the center, but the overall pattern is suspicious and a lot of energy is getting involved off the NW tip of the Yucatan. Also, overall circulation pattern on shortwave loop looks a little less healthy tonight as far as rotation and banding. Have seen this action in this setup before, but still very speculative at the moment.
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Fishing is good right now in the Gulf of Mexico, depending on where you decide to Troll.
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3367. xcool
my First Time I Said poof on Alex lmao j/k
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I fear the hit will be between Matagorda Bay and Galveston. Just a weird feeling about this one. Really hope its wrong, but just dont sit right. Anyone else have that feeling?
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3363. xcool
thoughts on iI HMMM face facts SOMEONE GO HIT FROM TX TO SW LA I ;M NOT BUY IN TO MODELS
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3362. twooks
What was the original time frame for the front coming into play?
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3361. xcool
. Fl30258713 / Alex HE OLD & MOVEING SLOWSLOW
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Quoting xcool:
any from TX TO LA DNOT BE A FOOL KEEP EYE ON Alex


so what are your thoughts on it?
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3359. JRRP
CMC
Link
see you...
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Quoting btwntx08:

ahh i know where that landfall its port mansfeld (just north of south padre island)


That's where Dolly hit!!
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Could the last frame of this animation be a clue he's on the move/relocating?

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Sorry that was meant to be a joke. I think it is being affected by the trough and will likely move N or NW like others have stated previously. It is just taking its time, which is likely due to its large size. Which will also make it slow to respond to steering currents. Once it gets moving the models will get a better handle on its track. Then how fast it is intensifying will be another factor in how it responds to its steering currents. Good night ladies and gents :) Work tomorrow.
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Quoting xcool:
Alex better move or dead


I'm not seeing movement. Maybe a wobble? But I don't see anything resembling momentum.

I wonder what the SST are down to where Alex is positioned? As Alex uses that energy and displaces the heat in the water without forward direction, that will take some steam out of Alex. I think anyway. What say ye?
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3008 aspectre "[...link...] ...TSAlex remains ~571hours away from the DeepwaterHorizon.
At 120hours away, personnel evacuations and shutdown procedures for ship evacuations begin.
"

3045 jamesrainier "Quote by Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen at yesterday's press briefing:
If we get an indication that we have a chance for gale force winds at the wellhead, a 120 hours out in advance that's when we'll make the decision.
"

Hence the emphasis on begin, a decision is the first step in beginning,
along with a suggestion of "(See the bottom of blog1521post705 for more info)"

Naturally, if a hurricane's closure rate leads to a closure time of eg 600hours upon the DeepwaterHorizon, and the hurricane's projected vector leads to a landfall in eg CorpusChristi,Texas in 90hours, nobody is gonna decide to begin evacuation and shutdown procedures. Or for that matter, if the closure time is 100hours to the spill and the projected vector leads to a landfall in 6hours.

Where things get dicey is when the closure rate starts getting closer 120hours, and the 5day path-prediction cone starts swinging towards the DeepwaterHorizon. The closer that closure rate gets to 120hours and the faster the swing of the 5day path-projection cone towards the spill site, the more likely that orders will be issued to begin the evacuation and the shutdown-for-evacuation procedure.

Not that AdmiralAllen's statement isn't misleading in its own way:

1) The reason we got into this mess is cuz BigSuits decided to sacrifice worker safety to BiggerProfits. AdmiralAllen is quite aware of that. And I'm sure he is reminded of that fact quite often by his bosses and LOTS of politicians.

2) BP as well as its subcontractors are quite aware of that fact, and probably more-than-willing to tell the good admiral (or BP) to stuff it if they think he (or BP) is attempting to override safety concerns.

3) While all of those suits are worried about losing money and prestige -- and most of them, about other people and the environment -- they ain't betting their lives or health on the results of their decisions.
The workers know that they're workin' on a killer that has already taken away their brethren, and that Suits gave the orders that led to those deaths. None of those workers is gonna be saying "To **** with fighting with the boss, the blowout preventer [or any other failsafe] will take care of problems."

4) There are MANY things to do pre-shutdown that will make shutdown and evacuation faster&easier, from stowing equipment into lockers to tying down pipes that aren't gonna be used for a couple of days. And a lot of pre-shutdown procedures on still operating systems. Etc...
And you can bet those workers will be doing them the instant a 5day path-projection cone starts swinging as if it's gonna cover the DeepwaterHorizon site, regardless of a lack of orders from above. Heck, those ships are probably already some of the tidiest working vessels afloat.

5) The procedures for shutdown in-and-of-itself probably take ~2days. And all of those pre-shutdown and shutdown measures can be reversed if a hurricane decides to head another direction.
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3352. xcool
any from TX TO LA DNOT BE A FOOL KEEP EYE ON Alex
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3351. xcool
natrwalkn poof
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Will there be another NOAA update soon?
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Quoting xcool:
Alex better move or dead


Oh, Please. (spoken sarcastically with a huge dose of gay)
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3348. xcool
he life support
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could it be relocating?
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Quoting xcool:
Alex better move or dead


Haha, I wouldn't be surprised if Alex runs out of fuel right where he is. That would explain the model failure.

Or maybe he's just enjoying the beach.. who knows?
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3345. JLPR2
Quoting xcool:
Alex better move or dead


but he's a beach bum LOL!
He's hugging that coast :P
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3343. xcool
Alex better move or dead
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3342. fsumet


GFDL stronger on this run.
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3340. xcool
huh huh
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is he dying xcool?
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3338. fsumet
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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.