Alex, strongest June hurricane in 44 years, is now a tropical storm

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:20 PM GMT on July 01, 2010

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Hurricane Alex, the strongest June hurricane in 44 years, is Tropical Storm Alex, thanks to passage over the rugged terrain of Mexico. Alex made landfall at 9pm CDT last night, 110 miles south of Brownsville, Texas, as a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds. Alex was the strongest June hurricane since Hurricane Alma of 1966, which had 125 mph winds as it skirted the west coast of Florida. Brownsville long-range radar shows that Alex's heavy rains continue to pound the Texas/Mexico border region, and satellite estimates of rainfall (Figure 1) show that some of Alex's spiral bands dumped rains in excess of five inches today, in addition to the 5+ inches that fell yesterday. The Brownsville airport received 6.46" of rain as of 8am CDT today from Alex. Alex is being blamed for at least thirteen deaths in Central America and Mexico due to flooding, though none of these deaths occurred in the region where the storm made landfall. Alex spawned two tornadoes that hit South Texas, and there were at least four other reports of tornado funnel clouds that did not touch ground. Alex may continue to spawn isolated tornadoes today over South Texas and northern Mexico.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated rainfall so far today for Alex.


Figure 2. Snapshot of the Brownsville long-range radar showing Hurricane Alex at landfall at 8pm CDT Wednesday June 30, 2010.


Figure 3. Alex nearing landfall in northeastern Mexico at 12:10 CDT June 30, 2010, as seen by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite. Image credit: NASA.

Storm Surge
Alex's maximum storm surge occurred along a 50-mile stretch of the Mexican coast centered about 75 miles south of Brownsville, Texas. The National Hurricane Center Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model predicted that the maximum water depth at the coast reached about 5 - 6 feet above ground level (Figure 3.) A storm surge of 1 - 2 feet was predicted by SLOSH for the Brownsville, Texas region. A storm surge of about 2 feet was observed in South Texas at the South Padre Island Coast Guard Station and Port Isabel.


Figure 4. Hurricane Alex's Maximum Water Depth (storm tide minus the elevation of the land it is passing over) computed using the primary computer model used by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to forecast storm surge--the Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model. The accuracy of the SLOSH model is advertised as plus or minus 20%. The maximum surge occurred to the right of where Alex's core made landfall, over a sparsely populated marshy area. This "Maximum Water Depth" image shows the water depth at each grid cell of the SLOSH domain. Thus, if you are inland at an elevation of five feet above mean sea level, and the combined storm surge and tide (the "storm tide") is ten feet at your location, the water depth image will show five feet of inundation. For more information on storm surge, consult our detailed storm surge pages.

Alex in historical context
Alex is the first June hurricane since Hurricane Allison of 1995. There have been only eleven hurricanes in May or June since 1945; only four of these were major Category 3 or higher storms.

Alex's bizarre behavior
Alex had several rather remarkable features I've never seen in a hurricane. Firstly, it underwent an eyewall replacement cycle as a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds. Usually, we don't see the inner eyewall collapse and an eyewall replacement cycle occur until a hurricane reaches Category 3 strength. I've seen it happen on occasion to a Category 2 storm, but never a Category 1. Secondly, after Alex's inner 9-mile diameter eyewall collapsed at 10am EDT yesterday morning, an outer spiral band began to become the new eyewall. Winds in this outer spiral band/new eywall increased as the day progressed, as typically happens in an eyewall replacement cycle. However, part way through that process, Alex suddenly reversed course, and was able to build a small inner eyewall with a 12-mile diameter that was completed by landfall. I've never seen a hurricane change its mind in the middle of an eyewall replacement cycle and build an inner eyewall so fast. Finally, Alex had an unusually weak winds, considering how low the pressure was. The pressure was more typical of a hurricane one Saffir-Simpson category stronger than what the surface winds suggested.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The latest run of the NOGAPS model predicts the formation of a tropical depression the Western Caribbean on Tuesday. None of the other models is showing tropical development worthy of concern over the coming seven days.

Wind and ocean current forecast for the BP oil disaster
Alex is continuing to generate very rough conditions over the Deepwater Horizon blowout location, with 5 - 9 foot waves and 3 - 4 foot swells. The wind and seas will gradually subside today, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. The resulting currents induced by Alex's strong winds will push oil to many protected bays and estuaries that haven't seen oil yet. 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 5 - 15 knots Friday through Tuesday but remain mostly 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
I'll have an update Friday morning. Dr. Rob Carver plans on summarizing Alex in his blog later today.

Jeff Masters

Hurricane Alex (LRandyB)
Weather inbound to Hurricane Alex.
Hurricane Alex

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1493. Levi32
Quoting portcharlotte:
We had teletypes going all the time. No computers, no models to look at, just fax charts that you hung on the wall. We received 3 satellite pictures a day from the fax machine.



That would be cool to be limited to that sometime....computers mess a lot of things up about forecasting.
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1492. xcool
TampaSpin lmao
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I have no idea what you said. And before, you said the low was over water, which it evidently isn't. Don't find any humor there.


NO I DID NOT! I never said the low was over water. I said i checked all the Bouys and could not find anything. You was the one saying it was sub-tropical and i said its not anything until it forms. There is nothing there yet KID.
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Quoting extreme236:
I noticed the 12z ECMWF slams another storm into the area where Alex hit in 192 hours, and shows a second storm move into the GOM. Both systems start to take shape in 96-120 hours.



It's like God hates the gom lately....sigh...
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Quoting xcool:
Miami smart kid ;)


You dropped off the back end word, but yes slightly..LOL
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Quoting extreme236:
I noticed the 12z ECMWF slams another storm into the area where Alex hit in 192 hours, and shows a second storm move into the GOM. Both systems start to take shape in 96-120 hours.
Yes the first one is the tropical wave located around 60˚W and the second one is a tropical wave around 40˚W.
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We had teletypes going all the time. No computers, no models to look at, just fax charts that you hung on the wall. We received 3 satellite pictures a day from the fax machine.

Quoting Levi32:


Wow! That's so cool! I bet you had fun there.
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I noticed the 12z ECMWF slams another storm into the area where Alex hit in 192 hours, and shows a second storm move into the GOM. Both systems start to take shape in 96-120 hours.
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Just talked to Oz. He's almost home from Brownsville. a 15 hour drive!
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Kid i posted that before you ever got up...LOL
I have no idea what you said. And before, you said the low was over water, which it evidently isn't. Don't find any humor there.
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1482. JLPR2
Quoting Levi32:


Seriously? Our language is so screwed up I almost feel insecure not knowing a 2nd language like Spanish, which I attempted but kind of failed.


Yeah, Spanish has more grammatical rules and the: ¿? ¡! and á, é stuff XD

I learned my English at school, watching Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z LOL!
Who says cartoons dont teach you? :P
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Quoting JLPR2:


Nah... I find it easier than my first language Spanish. XD
Down here in Miami (having Cuban parents and grandparents) I learned Spanish first but quickly learned English. Both I consider to be my "first language", lol.
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1480. JLPR2
Everything seems quiet today so I'm going to do other things and sleep early,
night everyone!

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1479. xcool
Miami smart kid ;)
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1478. Levi32
Quoting JLPR2:


Nah... I find it easier than my first language Spanish. XD


Seriously? Our language is so screwed up I almost feel insecure not knowing a 2nd language like Spanish, which I attempted but kind of failed.

There are some things you can do in English though that I don't think you can in other languages :)
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portcharlotte, I am old enough to remember them. Thank you for reminding me. Took 10 minutes to dial the number and spent 2 minutes on the call.....LOL
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Currently it's over the Florida panhandle and moving towards the south along with the frontal boundary.

CIMSS 850mb 00:00 UTC



Kid i posted that before you ever got up...LOL
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Quoting BermudaHigh:


What model is that?
I believe it is the NAM.
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1474. Levi32
The low is weak but evident east of Tallahassee on radar.

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1473. xcool
JLPR2 hello
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting portcharlotte:
img
Levi32 this is a photo of myself in 1972 behind the console at PBI Wx station. These were the old days at the observation desk. I thought you would like to see this. I was 22 years old then. Now I am an old guy of 59!




Old guys rule!
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1471. JLPR2
Quoting Progster:
Right you are. English is a difficult language to decipher, taxq91met, and i've been practicing all my life :)


Nah... I find it easier than my first language Spanish. XD
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1469. Levi32
Over land:

Also vorticity increased last 3 hours....this is 0z update.

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Quoting TampaSpin:


I posted today the Vorticity of the 850mb area just off the coast earlier today.
Currently it's over the Florida panhandle and moving towards the south along with the frontal boundary.

CIMSS 850mb 00:00 UTC

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That's funny...Just look at it...it's a rotary telephone!

Quoting msgambler:
Good evening, some folks on here are not going to know what that black box thing on the desk is....LOL
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1466. Levi32
Quoting portcharlotte:
img
Levi32 this is a photo of myself in 1972 behind the console at PBI Wx station. These were the old days at the observation desk. I thought you would like to see this. I was 22 years old then. Now I am an old guy of 59!


Wow! That's so cool! I bet you had fun there.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The low isn't over water but actually over land.


I posted today the Vorticity of the 850mb area just off the coast earlier today.
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Quoting portcharlotte:
img
Levi32 this is a photo of myself in 1972 behind the console at PBI Wx station. These were the old days at the observation desk. I thought you would like to see this. I was 22 years old then. Now I am an old guy of 59!
Good evening, some folks on here are not going to know what that black box thing on the desk is....LOL
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1442 Progster "Right you are. English is a difficult language to decipher..."

Nah, even babies pick it up... whereas ya hafta go to school to learn that foreign lingo.
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1462. bassis
Quoting Levi32:


Nowcoast mapping portal


Great site thank you
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Quoting Levi32:


Wow, that's great. I definitely want to pursue a career in Meteorology, somehow...
img
Levi32 this is a photo of myself in 1972 behind the console at PBI Wx station. These were the old days at the observation desk. I thought you would like to see this. I was 22 years old then. Now I am an old guy of 59!
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Where is the low at......i just checked all bouys and could find nothing.....please tell me where your low is exactly!


You talking about the NE GOM? It's over Perry FL I think, no buoys there haha.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
NOAA, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, WEATHER FORECAST OFFICE
Miami, Florida 33165
http://weather.gov/southflorida
Hot Weather Continued in June
Warmest June on Record for Many South Florida Locations
July 1, 2010: June 2010 went down as the warmest June on record for three of the 4 primary climate sites in south Florida. This came on the heels of a very warm May which set an all-time warmest on record in Miami. Following are the average June 2010 temperatures and departure from normal for the 4 sites:
- Miami International Airport had an average June temperature of 85.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This is 3.2 degrees above the normal for June, and sets the all-time warmest June on record for the Miami area, breaking the previous record of 85.3 set in 1998. This also breaks the record for the warmest average temperature observed for any calendar month in Miami. The previous warmest month was August 2009 with an average temperature of 85.4 degrees. The minimum temperature did not drop below 80 on 13 days in June, breaking the previous record of 12 days set in 1998.
- Palm Beach International Airport had an average June temperature of 84.4 degrees Fahrenheit. This is 3.2 degrees above the normal for June, and was the 2nd warmest June on record for the West Palm Beach area, barely falling short of the record of 84.5 set in 1998. The minimum temperature did not drop below 80 on 10 days in June, breaking the previous record of 8 days set in 1981.
- Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport had an average temperature of 84.9 degrees Fahrenheit. This is 3.7 degrees above the normal for June, and sets the all-time warmest June on record for the Fort Lauderdale area, breaking the previous record of 84.8 set in 1998. The minimum temperature did not drop below 80 on 15 days in June, breaking the previous record of 12 days set in 2008.
- Naples Municipal Airport had an average temperature of 84.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This is 3.8 degrees above the normal for June, and sets the all-time warmest June on record for the Naples area, breaking the previous record of 84.1 set in 1944.
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From Max Mayfield's Blog: July Formation Points



"The above graphic shows preferred areas for tropical storm formation in the month of July to be over the Gulf of Mexico, the western Caribbean Sea, and off the southeast U.S. coast similar to June, but we also start looking to the east over the tropical Atlantic during July. The historical data set shows that 105 tropical storms have formed in July from 1851 through 2009. Since aircraft reconnaissance began in 1944, we have seen an average of one named storm form somewhere in the Atlantic Basin during July. And, on average, we have one hurricane about every other year during this month. Of course, those are averages and there is a lot of variability. We saw five tropical storms form during July in 2005 with three of those becoming hurricanes (including two major hurricanes). Yet many years have had no storms develop in this month."

From: http://maxmayfieldshurricaneblog.wordpress.com/
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1457. xcool
HurricaneSwirl i think so .lol
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting TampaSpin:


Where is the low at......i just checked all bouys and could find nothing.....please tell me where your low is exactly!
The low isn't over water but actually over land.
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Quoting xcool:


Uh-oh. Is it time for me to put my shutters up in Macon, GA?
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Yeah, if it were a previous year I don't think 91L or 94L would have become invests, maybe not 90L either. 5 invests and only 1 TD/TS/HU. But anyway I agree that we won't see an invest for probably 2 days.. if this thing is still doing what it's supposed to.
Probably.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
But a low has developed albeit it being weak and ill-defined.


Where is the low at......i just checked all bouys and could find nothing.....please tell me where your low is exactly!
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1452. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
True, 90L was warm secluded, but it also was subtropical at some point in its lifetime. Another thing I've noticed this year is that the NHC is giving out invest status more freely so I wouldn't be surprised to see 95L while it still is cold cored. But IMO, no invest until a couple more days.


Yeah, if it were a previous year I don't think 91L or 94L would have become invests, maybe not 90L either. 5 invests and only 1 TD/TS/HU. But anyway I agree that we won't see an invest for probably 2 days.. if this thing is still doing what it's supposed to.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
1450. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Tazmanian:
when could we see 95L and when
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54858
Quoting stormpetrol:
Not to discredit anyone but I'm going to name the 5 people on this blog that I really pay attention to , StormW, weather456,Drakoen, Levi32, and kmanislander(Kman) and few others also. BTW W456 was accurate with his forcast track on Alex.

I agree and Patrap cracks me up
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1448. Levi32
Quoting TampaSpin:
If a Low has not yet developed its not anything Sub-tropical nor Xtr-tropical....When this does develop in 60hrs it seems to me it will be Tropical from the beginning from the Graph i just posted! That is my read on it and just my opinion!


By the time the low is recognized by the model in 60 hours yes it is warm-core, but if we have a defined system before then, we can define it as warm or cold-core. It doesn't have to be a low on the model for us to give it characteristics. We can even give characteristics to the front, which is cold-core.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
If a Low has not yet developed its not anything Sub-tropical nor Xtr-tropical....When this does develop in 60hrs it seems to me it will be Tropical from the beginning from the Graph i just posted! That is my read on it and just my opinion!
But a low has developed albeit it being weak and ill-defined.
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If a Low has not yet developed its not anything Sub-tropical nor Xtr-tropical....When this does develop in 60hrs it seems to me it will be Tropical from the beginning from the Graph i just posted! That is my read on it and just my opinion!
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1445. bassis
Quoting bappit:


This is a heck of a lot easier.


Thank you VERY much
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


Smart Mama. :) And you could be doing worse things than hanging out on a weather blog. Hope you're enjoying it.


i agree on both of those comments
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


That's not what happened with 90L. You're still probably right.
True, 90L was warm secluded, but it also was subtropical at some point in its lifetime. Another thing I've noticed this year is that the NHC is giving out invest status more freely so I wouldn't be surprised to see 95L while it still is cold cored. But IMO, no invest until a couple more days.
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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.