Large and intensifying Hurricane Alex bears down on northeastern Mexico, South Texas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:23 PM GMT on June 30, 2010

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Hurricane Alex continues to intensify as it slowly bears down on the coast of northeastern Mexico. Brownsville long-range radar shows the spiral bands of Alex, which has dumped heavy rains of up to four inches in northeastern Mexico and near Brownsville, according to satellite estimates of rainfall. The Brownsville airport received 0.78" of rain in the hour ending at 8am CDT, and 0.61" in the hour ending at 9am CDT. Floods from Alex have already killed ten people--six in Nicaragua, and two each in El Salvador and Guatemala.


Figure 1. Snapshot of the Brownsville long-range radar showing Hurricane Alex approaching the coast.

The 7:12am CDT eye penetration of the Hurricane Hunters found a central pressure of 959 mb, a modest 2 mb drop from the reading four hours previous to that. They noted a very tiny eye, ten miles in diameter, with a gap in the northwest side. Tiny eyes like this tend to be unstable, and in the 9:05am CDT eye penetration, the Hurricane Hunters found that the inner eyewall had collapsed, and the pressure had risen 2 mb, to 961 mb. A new, much larger eye will form today as the day progresses. During these "eyewall replacement cycles", a hurricane will typically weaken a few millibars , and the strongest winds will spread out over a larger area as the hurricane conserves angular momentum. Thus, the hurricane still has about the same amount of destructive power, it is just spread out over a larger area. This tends to increase the hurricane's storm surge, but lessens the wind damage, since the extreme winds of the inner eyewall are no longer present. Satellite loops show a large, well-organized storm with increasing amounts of low-level spiral bands forming, and improving upper-level outflow. Data from last night's flight of the NOAA jet showed an unusually moist atmosphere surrounds Alex, so dry air is no longer a problem for it. It's a good thing Alex has less than a day before making landfall, or else is would be a large and very powerful major hurricane.


Figure 2. Visible light image of Tropical Storm Alex taken at 19:35 UTC (2:35 pm CDT) on June 29, 2010, by NASA's Aqua satellite. At the time, Alex was a tropical storm with 70 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Storm Surge
Traditionally, a storm's ranking on the Saffir-Simpson Scale--the familiar Category 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 rankings we always talk about--have also been used to quantify storm surge threat. However, large, weaker storms that cover a huge area of the Gulf of Mexico, like Alex, can generate a larger storm surge than a smaller but more intense hurricane with a higher Saffir-Simpson rating. Thus, the National Hurricane Center has formally discontinued use of the Saffir-Simpson scale to characterize storm surge, and is studying the possibility of issuing separate Storm Surge Warnings a few years from now. These would be in addition to their traditional Hurricane Warnings. To give us a better idea of a storm's surge potential, Dr. Mark Powell of NOAA's Hurricane Research Division has developed the Integrated Kinetic Energy scale to rank storms. The scale ranges from 0 to 6, and a parallel wind damage scale that runs from 0 to 6 is also generated. Alex had an Integrated Kinetic Energy of 2.6 on the 0 to 6 scale at 1:30pm CDT yesterday, and its destructive potential rating for winds was just 1.2. Thus, Alex's surge ranked alomst one-and-a-half categories higher in destructive potential than its wind. These numbers have probably increased by a full category since yesterday afternoon. NHC is giving a 40% - 60% chance of a storm surge of at least 3 feet affecting the Brownsville area, and 10% - 30% chance the surge will exceed 5 feet. In theory, a Category 2 hurricane moving WNW at 5 mph can bring a storm surge of up to 8 - 9 feet to the South Texas and northern Mexican coast.

Other Impacts
Alex is bringing bands of heavy rain to the coasts of Texas and Mexico, as seen on the Brownsville, Texas radar. Hurricane local statements with projections for how Alex will affect the coast are now being issued by the National Weather Service in Brownsville and Corpus Christi. Flooding damage from the expected 6 - 12 inches of rain from Alex will be the main concern. Wind damage is a lesser concern, since the core of Alex is making landfall in a swampy, sparsely populated region of Mexico. The combined wind, surge, and flooding damage from Alex may be similar to 2008's Hurricane Dolly, which hit near Brownsville. Dolly was a Category 2 hurricane offshore that weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds when it made landfall, and did about $1 billion in damage. Dolly also generated two weak EF-0 tornadoes, and Alex is capable of generating a few tornadoes as well, according to the latest discussion from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. The atmosphere is moderately unstable, there is plenty of moisture, and wind shear at low levels has been increasing this morning. The greatest threat for tornadoes will occur late this afternoon, on the right side of where the storm makes landfall.

Alex in historical context
Alex is the first June hurricane since Hurricane Allison of 1995. Allison briefly became a minimal 75 mph hurricane before weakening and hitting the Florida Panhandle as a tropical storm. Alex is the strongest June hurricane since Hurricane Bonnie of 1986, which had 85 mph winds. Bonnie was the first hurricane I flew into as a member of the Hurricane Hunters. Bonnie made landfall along the upper Texas coast, and caused less than $20 million in damage. If Alex strengthens to 90 mph winds, it will be the strongest June hurricane since Hurricane Alma of 1966, which had 125 mph winds as it skirted the Florida Keys. There have been only ten hurricanes in May or June since 1945; only four of these were major Category 3 or higher storms.

Track forecast for Alex
All of the models take Alex to the west or west-northwest into northern Mexico by early Thursday morning. However, the steering currents are fairly weak, and Alex could stall and move erratically at times today. I don't anticipate that this weakness in the steering currents will allow Alex to move northward and make landfall in Texas. After landfall, the ridge of high pressure forcing Alex westward should remain in place and strengthen, keeping Alex's remnants over northern Mexico for several days.

Intensity forecast for Alex
Alex is over a region of ocean with moderately high total ocean heat content . Wind shear has fallen to a low 5 knots, and is projected by the SHIPS model to remain in the low range, below 10 knots, through landfall. The combination of low wind shear, moderately high ocean heat content, and plenty of moisture should allow Alex to continue to intensify today. Alex's pressure is already characteristic of a Category 3 hurricane, but the storm is so large that it is taking time for the winds to catch up to the pressure falls. It is unlikely that Alex's winds will be at Category 3 strength at landfall, since the storm is undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle, and does not have time to build a tight inner eyewall with strong winds before landfall. A Category 2 storm at landfall looks more likely.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The latest run of the NOGAPS model predicts the formation of a tropical disturbance in the Western Caribbean on Monday. None of the other models is showing anything brewing over the coming seven days.

Wind and ocean current forecast for the BP oil disaster
Alex is generating very rough conditions over the Deepwater Horizon blowout location, with 6 - 8 foot waves and 3 - 4 foot swells. Strong southeast to south winds of 15 - 25 knots will blow over the oil slick region today through Thursday, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. The resulting currents will push oil to many protected bays and estuaries that haven't seen oil yet. In addition, the 1 - 2 foot storm surge Alex is generating along the Louisiana coast will act to push oil deep into some low-lying marshlands. While this oil will be diluted some by the wave action, the impact of the oil and accompanying toxic dispersants on the marshlands is of concern. The latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana show oil will also move westward along the central Louisiana coast towards the Texas border. Winds will decrease to 10 - 15 knots Friday through Monday but remain out of the southeast, keeping the pressure on the regions of coast in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi that are seeing oil hit their shores this week.

Resources for the BP oil disaster
Map of oil spill location from the NOAA Satellite Services Division
My post, What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
NOAA's interactive mapping tool to overlay wind and ocean current forecasts, oil locations, etc.
Gulf Oil Blog from the UGA Department of Marine Sciences
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the University of Miami

Next post
Either Rob Carver or myself will do an update late this afternoon or this evening.

Jeff Masters

Hurricane Alex (LRandyB)
Weather inbound to Hurricane Alex.
Hurricane Alex
Hurricane Alex (LRandyB)
Weather inbound to Hurricane Alex.
Hurricane Alex
Hurricane Alex (LRandyB)
Flight deck view from a WC-130J Hurricane Hunter aircraft
Hurricane Alex

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2048. Dakster
This blog is moving faster than alex's winds...
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2047. hydrus
The mighty pin hole eye.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
,,,"Do the Taz Humpty Hump Pinhole Eye"...
There is a song in the makin' there Pat (sir)
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2045. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128866
Quoting CaneWarning:
It's funny, watching the news, I'd never know a hurricane was about to make landfall. If it were just further up the coast it would be all over TV. I guess we don't care about Mexico?


Link
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Quoting 1900hurricane:
Raws aren't the only T# dropping now.....

UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 30 JUN 2010 Time : 211500 UTC
Lat : 24:27:18 N Lon : 97:00:29 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
5.0 / 969.9mb/ 90.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
5.0 6.0 6.3

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : -0.1mb

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 11 km

Center Temp : -17.2C Cloud Region Temp : -71.7C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : SPIRAL ANALYSIS

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 1.7T/6hr
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF



Still in frefall mode.
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2042. Patrap

528
WGUS54 KBRO 302211
FFWBRO
TXC061-489-010015-
/O.NEW.KBRO.FF.W.0020.100630T2211Z-100701T0015Z/
/00000.0.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.OO/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
FLASH FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BROWNSVILLE TX
511 PM CDT WED JUN 30 2010

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BROWNSVILLE HAS ISSUED A

* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR...
WILLACY COUNTY IN DEEP SOUTH TEXAS.
NORTHERN CAMERON COUNTY IN DEEP SOUTH TEXAS.

LOCATIONS AFFECTED INCLUDE...
HARLINGEN VALLEY AIRPORT.
SAN BENITO.
HARLINGEN.
LASARA.
PORT MANSFIELD.
RAYMONDVILLE.

* UNTIL 715 PM CDT

* AT 508 PM CDT...SCATTERED FLOODING CONTINUES ACROSS WILLACY AND
NORTHERN CAMERON COUNTY. ADDITIONAL RAINFALL IS EXPECTED THIS
EVENING WITH AN ADDITIONAL TWO TO FOUR INCHES OF RAIN POSSIBLE AS
RAIN BANDS ASSOCIATED WITH HURRICANE ALEX CONTINUE TO AFFECT THE
AREA.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

DON'T BECOME A STATISTIC. TURN AROUND...DON'T DROWN!
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128866
I'm sure Taz is happy....pinhole eye.
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Quoting Grothar:


I'll give you a pin hole eye. How you doing, Hydrus??


Wow.... Just.... Wow.....
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11670
Like Bill O'Reilly says....
Pinholes and patriots!
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2038. kabloie
Those guys flying recon are so completely awesome...Hitting the eye 4 times and going for 5. All hail!
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2037. Patrap
,,,"Do the Taz Humpty Hump Pinhole Eye"...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128866
BRO: Brownsville [Cameron Co, TX] amateur radio reports HURRICANE at 04:30 PM CDT -- power pole blown down near the intersection of norton and minnesota avenue.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Raws aren't the only T# dropping now.....

UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 30 JUN 2010 Time : 211500 UTC
Lat : 24:27:18 N Lon : 97:00:29 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
5.0 / 969.9mb/ 90.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
5.0 6.0 6.3

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : -0.1mb

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 11 km

Center Temp : -17.2C Cloud Region Temp : -71.7C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : SPIRAL ANALYSIS

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 1.7T/6hr
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11670
Quoting doabarrelroll:

is there a chance this could go to Florida?
Is there anything brewing that could go to FLorida?
NO and maybe in 5-7 days in the northeastern Gulf...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It's funny, watching the news, I'd never know a hurricane was about to make landfall. If it were just further up the coast it would be all over TV. I guess we don't care about Mexico?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2032. hydrus
Quoting Grothar:


I'll give you a pin hole eye. How you doing, Hydrus??

Must be my lucky day...Pin hole eye.
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2031. Patrap
Product: Air Force High Density (HDOB) Message (URNT15 KNHC)
Transmitted: 30th day of the month at 22:08Z
Date: June 30, 2010
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 304)
Storm Number: 01
Storm Name: Alex (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 12
Observation Number: 45



22:08:00Z 23.417N 96.067W 843.0 mb

(~ 24.89 inHg) 1,447 meters

(~ 4,747 feet) 995.3 mb

(~ 29.39 inHg) - From 213° at 42 knots

(From between the SSW and SW at ~ 48.3 mph
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128866
Pin-hole eye!
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2029. hydrus
Quoting doabarrelroll:

is there a chance this could go to Florida?
Is there anything brewing that could go to FLorida?
Yes. A possible disturbance in the Western Caribbean on Monday. And a whole lot of Budweiser for when it gets there.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2028. Grothar
Quoting hydrus:
Pin hole eye. Wuzup.....btw...i just felt like typing pin hole eye...even if its not a pin hole eye...i typed pin hole eye...;0


I'll give you a pin hole eye. How you doing, Hydrus??

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2027. Patrap
Product: Air Force High Density (HDOB) Message (URNT15 KNHC)
Transmitted: 30th day of the month at 21:58Z
Date: June 30, 2010
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 304)
Storm Number: 01
Storm Name: Alex (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 12
Observation Number: 44



21:58:00Z 23.033N 95.650W 843.6 mb

(~ 24.91 inHg) 1,486 meters

(~ 4,875 feet) 1001.2 mb

(~ 29.57 inHg) - From 219° at 46 knots

(From the SW at ~ 52.9 mph)
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128866
Quoting doabarrelroll:

is there a chance this could go to Florida?
Is there anything brewing that could go to FLorida?


Yes. Lol
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2025. xcool
dam stalla storms.
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AOI

AOI

AOI

Hurricane Hunter Data
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Not sure.

Probably half hour to forty-five minutes.


Hopefully the NHC will wait a tad if recon is completely done with the eye wall by the time the 7 EDT advisory comes out.
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2022. 7544
thanks
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2021. hydrus
Quoting Grothar:


Amy! Looks stronger than a Cat 1.
Pin hole eye. Wuzup.....btw...i just felt like typing pin hole eye...even if its not a pin hole eye...i typed pin hole eye...;0
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This storm seems to love the environment of land nearby that its about to hit...

Congrats Alex..your my profile pic..you deserve it...
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Quoting leo305:


ah ok, when are they going to head into the eye/eye wall


Not sure.

Probably half hour to forty-five minutes.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
2017. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128866
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
Quoting superweatherman:
So we expecting to have the next two new storm form next week... one around the same place Alex from and the other around the Florida Keys..Can someone check the new models... What is your take on this Weather456?Possible two system next week and maybe 3-5 storms in July?


I am not sure that the MDR can support 4-5 storms in a four week period, and, particularly in July.........August and September might be a different story however.
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2014. leo305
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


That data is old.

Recon is in the S quadrant now.


ah ok, when are they going to head into the eye/eye wall
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2013. CJC111
If anyone has a quick referrence for it, what was the strength of the 95 June hurricane and what is the strongest June hurricane on record?
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Quoting 7544:


is there a live feed to see this thats all im reading here

7674u.com
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2010. NRAamy
where's STORMTOP?

;)
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Haha James. I can't take it, I was laughing so hard I cried earlier. I pray he never makes it into a major.
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2008. help4u
who is oz?
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
Another thing to consider, given Alex's untimate formation location in the SW Caribbean, and, this current trajectory basically in the Bay of Campeche is that little to no upwelling has occured in the MDR or Gulf from this particular storm to really cool anything off....The heat content is still there for the other's to follow as we approach maximum heating in August.
Yeah, that fact is the most negative aspect of this Hurricane (besides the impact). It didn't do it's job... cooling off the excessive heat in the tropics.
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Quoting leo305:


Jim Cantore just reported that the recon sent info of 108mph "FLIGHT LEVEL" winds..


That data is old.

Recon is in the S quadrant now.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
He does not want to go on land, amazing
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9630
Quoting leo305:


that didn't stop charley from jumping from CAT 2 to CAT 4 in that same amount of time


Think ya meant to quote me lol.

I wasn't tracking hurricanes in 2004, my first year was 2005 (one heck of a first year btw), but by looking through the WU Archives, I can find that

Charley had six hours to go from 110mph to 145mph. 35 mph difference in six hours

Alex would have one hour to go from 90mph to 115mph. 25 mph difference in 1 hour

Then we can find that 35 divided by 6 is ~5.8

So Charley strengthened on average 5.8 mph in one hour
And Alex would have to strengthen on average 25mph in one hour

Now, it could be that Charley stayed at 110mph for the majority of the six hour time period and then jumped up 35 mph at the last minute, but I wasn't there to know. All I can look at are 6 hour archives so...
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2003. leo305
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


where???


Jim Cantore just reported that the recon sent info of 108mph "FLIGHT LEVEL" winds..
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2002. Grothar
Quoting NRAamy:
Groth!


Amy! Looks stronger than a Cat 1.
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2,000
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Quoting leo305:
RECON REPORTING

108MPH WINDS


Those are flight level.

Only 90 at the surface.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
Thats his cat5 suit. He's testing it.
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Quoting leo305:
RECON REPORTING

108MPH WINDS


where???
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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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