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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Quoting NOLALawyer:


This is complete, unadulterated BS. The program is 100% in existence.


Exactly...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Quoting will45:
he taped up the vents on his laptop and i think it blew lmao

i know
1746. Patrap
Dontcha just Lub all the 6 month Hype and postings about the first cane and all.

Check out the Posts for a Land falling Hurricane last Hour.

Not too many.


pffft.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549

The rainbow line in the track is where Alex should be in four hours.
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1744. will45
he taped up the vents on his laptop and i think it blew lmao
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Quoting Floodman:


Then "Cry havoc! And loose the dogs of war!"

LOL...my friend


Hey Flood, one would assume that out of respect for Dr Masters, who banned Oz from this blog. That people who are on Oz's website watching him... would keep the senseless dribble about him out of this Blog?
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting seflagamma:
Floodman, you behaving this afternoon?


Moi? Why, always, my dear! LOL

And you, how are you today?
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Quoting Floodman:


Good afternnon, my well-educated friend! You're rather impressive, you know that?


awhh stop now, your making me blush!
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
I'm not so sure about that. However, I can't imagine that congress would allow people to fall through the crack---I'm sure they will put in a provision for retroactive renewals.


from that article:

"The unrelated concerns, the NAMIC said, included worries that unreleated provisions in the bill would add to the federal budget deficit.

An article in the Des Moines Register said the bill that was voted down included extensions to unemployment benefits, COBRA health insurance subsidies and programs for highway and transit."

It's not going to get through the Senate with those provisions in there. Not when the President is also urgently seeking $50B in state and local assistance. There is just too much concern over the deficit.

I hope the bill that they are currently considering strips those unrelated provisions back out. So many good bills go down due to bad "add-ons" ... this is a particularly poor place to try to insert those.
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Compare Alex's eyewall:



...to that of Hurricane Katrina during her first eyewall replacement cycle.



There are some similarities, but Alex looks as if he's trying to make new eyewalls from the inside out, not have its outer eyewall collapse the inner one like normal EWRCs.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
could you imagine a storm where it was headed towards Texas and then the track changed and the storm went all the way NE across the Gulf and hit Florida

Imagine the nerves on this blog lol
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1736. Titoxd
Looking a bit ahead: What do the models say about Alex's moisture after it dissipates? Where does most of its rain go?
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Quoting StormSurgeon:


always....


Then "Cry havoc! And loose the dogs of war!"

LOL...my friend
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
1734. JamesSA
I wonder if Oz's spacesuit is tornado proof? LOL!
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Quoting StormW:


A closed eye is indicative of a stronger or strengthening system...there are times you'll see where the message says open to the SE or SW. When it's open, the system is weaker.


so do you guys think it could strengthen more before landfall? and how long is brownsville gonna have to sit in all that rain.
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1732. russm1
My wife gets dressed faster than OZ......
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1730. Patrap

341
WFUS54 KBRO 302059
TORBRO
TXC061-215-489-302115-
/O.NEW.KBRO.TO.W.0015.100630T2059Z-100630T2115Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BROWNSVILLE TX
359 PM CDT WED JUN 30 2010

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BROWNSVILLE HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHWESTERN CAMERON COUNTY IN DEEP SOUTH TEXAS.
EASTERN HIDALGO COUNTY IN DEEP SOUTH TEXAS.
SOUTHERN WILLACY COUNTY IN DEEP SOUTH TEXAS.

* UNTIL 415 PM CDT

* AT 359 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
TORNADO 22 MILES NORTHEAST OF EDCOUCH...MOVING WEST AT 45 MPH.

* THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR...
PORFIRIO.
LYFORD.
LA VILLA.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

PLEASE REPORT TORNADOES OR FUNNEL CLOUDS...WINDS OF 58 MPH OR
HIGHER...AND ANY WIND DAMAGE TO YOUR NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN
BROWNSVILLE BY CALLING 956-504-1432.



LAT...LON 2622 9798 2642 9804 2647 9763 2638 9759
TIME...MOT...LOC 2059Z 074DEG 41KT 2641 9768
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
Quoting twhcracker:
what does it mean, a closed eye. what is the implication of a closed eye versus an open one?


A "closed" eye just means the eye forms a copmplete circle...an "open" eye indicates weakening; the circulation is incomplete
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
1728. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
1727. JamesSA
Quoting JamesSA:
There was one on here awhile back. I didn't bookmark it.
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Oz was lucky his car didn't get permanently stuck a couple hours back on the beach and Alex didn't continue he northwest movement.
Yeah, those beaches eat a car now and then. ;-)
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If it heads south west will that mean less rain for the corpus area?
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Quoting NRAamy:
1713. PensacolaDoug 1:57 PM PDT on June 30, 2010
PockyLips is a bugger is the worst kind of troll.



who? what did I miss now?




Just him yesterday insisting how the TPC is wrong and the storm was gonna go ne to Florida or whereever.
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BRO issues Tornado Warning for Cameron, Hidalgo, Willacy [TX] till 4:15 PM CDT ...* AT 359 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A TORNADO 22 MILES NORTHEAST OF EDCOUCH...MOVING WEST AT 45 MPH
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damn is OZ putting on a space suit or what? just go out there and show us the damn storm lol
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
1722. Patrap
ALEX turning a tad Sw as it closes in as well
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
1721. tkeith
Quoting NRAamy:
1713. PensacolaDoug 1:57 PM PDT on June 30, 2010
PockyLips is a bugger is the worst kind of troll.



who? what did I miss now?
pay attention...
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Link

Here ya go.
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1718. NRAamy
1713. PensacolaDoug 1:57 PM PDT on June 30, 2010
PockyLips is a bugger is the worst kind of troll.



who? what did I miss now?
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
What is this at 180 hours near the yucatan?

Model, Area: NOGAPS, Tropical Atlantic, .5 deg
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Quoting Patrap:



From looking at that, landfall is in 3 hours.
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PockyLips is the worst kind of troll.
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Quoting JamesSA:
He looks really stupid all suited up in kevlar with all that gear... to brave a 30mph wind.


Better to have it and not need it than the other way around.
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is there any chance that the feeder bands could jump start that rotation over the bahamas?
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1710. JamesSA
Quoting asgolfr999:

Link?
There was one on here awhile back. I didn't bookmark it. It was really boring watching him endlessly fiddling with equipment etc.

At least the storm probably won't kill him at a car wash in Port Isabel.
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I just paid my renewal flood insurance last week, so....
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Quoting Floodman:


I got your back if you have mine


always....
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A tight shot from the SSEC Wisconsin loop shows a minor lean towards the south during the last two frames. Better news for Brownsville.
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If Alex maintains his present speed made good over the last two Vortex Plots, he should hit land at July 01 0015Z.



AOI

AOI

AOI

Hurricane Hunter Data
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting JamesSA:
He looks really stupid all suited up in kevlar with all that gear... to brave a 30mph wind.

Link?
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1703. Patrap
The Impact is well underway in Brownsville and vicinity as ALEX makes his move towards the Mexican Coast.

Hunker down,,time


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
Is "apocalyps" still forecasting this to sharply turn NE and landfall in FL as a cat 5? I wouldn't know because he's on my ignore list XD
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
1701. Or4590
alex make landfall soon
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1700. SeALWx
Quoting reedzone:
Looks like Brownsville as I thought earlier, will be spared of Hurricane Force winds, though any shift of the track can change the whole forecast.


Your comments would be much more well received without the self aggrandizing tone. You are very smart, but true intelligence is usually accompanied with humbleness.
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1699. JamesSA
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
Oz is back up!
He looks really stupid all suited up in kevlar with all that gear... to brave a 30mph wind.
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Ive been gone for a while so I dont know
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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.