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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Sounds like post hurricane grumpies in here tonight.

Many people make great contributions to the blog - some in different ways. Wouldn't want those who contribute to get their feelings hurt!

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1392. xcool
pressure fall
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
That's interesting Levi32. I was 14 living in West Palm Beach, Fl. when I experienced Hurcn Cleo. I was able to fulfill my dream and I worked at PBI airport as a Met. Tech doing wx obs, pilot briefing, radar and upper air. I found it hard to leave and go home everyday. Unfortunately, I earned a degree but not in meteorology so I was always a tech. You are very talented and if given the oppportunity and maybe you are... you should pursue a weather career. I enjoyed mine for 14 years. >Quoting Levi32:


I've lived in Homer, Alaska my entire life. When I was little winter storms were my first love....watching it come down heavy outside the window at night with the outdoor lights on lol. I saw my first hurricane on satellite imagery 7 years ago and have loved them ever since. The tropics are now my favorite aspect of Meteorology.
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Haha, I am 14!LOL I am learning quite a bit on this blog as well.


I'm 14 as well, LOL. I don't remember nearly as many of us "youngsters" on my first year lurking in 2005. The past few years I enjoyed just watching these storms, this is the first year I'm actually trying to learn about what they do and how they do it. It's great!
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Quoting jpritch:
What is going on over Cuba?
Upper level low.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
Quoting txag91met:
The cool wake will be gone in a couple of weeks...should be at least. Latent heat of evaporation...



Latent heat of evaporation creates cooling. What restores oceanic heat is circulation and sunshine.
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1387. Levi32
Quoting jpritch:
What is going on over Cuba?


Upper low.

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Quoting homelesswanderer:


Well Ch 12 keeps it not developed moving our way. About what the EURO says. Lake Charles NWS possibly a low meandering around the central gulf.
I agree. Showing development in the west GOM now is weird.


Eduard?? Allison?? maybe... lol both of those if I recall correctly were born off of frontal boundaries and meandered over our way.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Not that I believe everything but see no sense in engaging in foolish arguments with anyone be they 13 or 30.

Well we both agree on that one, but sometimes you have to point out just what you see and observe and thats all I've done tonight. Anyways as far I'm concerned its history, hope we all stay safe this year. Take care.
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1384. jpritch
What is going on over Cuba?
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1383. JRRP
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1382. Levi32
Perry, Florida reporting 1016.8mb....lower than every station around it. There has been a consistent point of lowest pressure near north Florida moving southward all day today, and yes of course the pressure gradient is weak, and overall pressures are high, but there is a clear point of low pressure. Also notice where the 1016.8 reading is located, right where the winds from different directions all around it converge. That's a weak low.

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1381. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
I bet that cool wake will start diminishing very quickly... I don't know if it will take a couple weeks.. maybe 2 at max.. but that is just my thinking.
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Quoting SomeRandomTexan:


I guess so, if it rides the high around to us... What do ya think? I haven't looked at the models are anything yet.


Well Ch 12 keeps it not developed moving our way. About what the EURO says. Lake Charles NWS possibly a low meandering around the central gulf.
I agree. Showing development in the west GOM now is weird.
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1378. xcool


Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
1377. Levi32
Quoting txag91met:

He is just using the ECMWF...


FYI....ECMWF doesn't even try to develop it at all. So that claim has no merit.
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
I'm 13 and I'm proud.Thank you.Moving on.


Haha, I am 14!LOL I am learning quite a bit on this blog as well.
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
I'm 13 and I'm proud.Thank you.Moving on.


Lol.
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Quoting stormpetrol:
Its ok to disagree , but really who knows who's telling the truth on a blog, do you really buy that? Well I'm surprised! Sure I agree with kids learning, not a thing wrong with that, but personally when I joined this blog 3 years ago, I thought you had to be 18 and over, please correct me if I'm wrong, but please don't believe everything you're told on these blogs, Regards Hank.
Not that I believe everything but see no sense in engaging in foolish arguments with anyone be they 13 or 30.
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Quoting KoritheMan:
Alex's cool wake is clearly evident in the Gulf:

The cool wake will be gone in a couple of weeks...should be at least. Latent heat of evaporation...
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


I may have to go back to being 13 to figure out this facebook thing. Although that could be a problem because computers weren't invented yet when I was 13. Lol. Oh well. At least I communicate with my son more now. But he's 25. I drive him nuts with the weather report. :)
I think you and I are in the same boat. When I was 13 computers took up a whole room and there was no such thing as a PC much less lap top. LOL
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
I disagree with you on people being over 18. They are learning at 13 and now you sound a little like TampaSpin. Why do the some of the older people on here engage in arguments with kids. Help them learn instead of talking down to them.
Its ok to disagree , but really who knows who's telling the truth on a blog, do you really buy that? Well I'm surprised! Sure I agree with kids learning, not a thing wrong with that, but personally when I joined this blog 3 years ago, I thought you had to be 18 and over, please correct me if I'm wrong, but please don't believe everything you're told on these blogs, Regards Hank.
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Quoting Levi32:


This morning he briefly mentioned the area of heavy precip in the NE gulf associated with the front that may have a chance to feedback later on. He's just watching it, like me.

He is just using the ECMWF...
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hey Levi32 there is also some good convergence with that possible low near Fl



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1368. xcool
Baltimorebirds wassup
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
were you all kidding about a low in the NE GOM? I hope so.
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Quoting Levi32:


Just north of the big bend. It will be over water tomorrow.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
1365. Levi32
Quoting portcharlotte:
Levi32 I must ask you about your location in Alaska. It is unique to be so interested in tropical wx in such a northern climate. DO you have the samje fascination with winter systems?



I've lived in Homer, Alaska my entire life. When I was little winter storms were my first love....watching it come down heavy outside the window at night with the outdoor lights on lol. I saw my first hurricane on satellite imagery 7 years ago and have loved them ever since. The tropics are now my favorite aspect of Meteorology.
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Quoting Levi32:


Just north of the big bend. It will be over water tomorrow.

Thanks Levi!

Quoting homelesswanderer:


Hey SRT. It might bring us more rain down the line.


I guess so, if it rides the high around to us... What do ya think? I haven't looked at the models are anything yet.
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Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
Thanks TropicFreak--

That is funny that they don't have formation probabilities there but they have it in the western to central gulf... doesn't make a lot of sense.


This year has just been wierd. Alex was some strange storm, now we may see a TD form in an unusual place.
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Quoting bappit:


This is a heck of a lot easier.
I'm sure it is but I always got used to doing it with a calculator.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
28storms.com discussion on possible Gulf and Caribbean threat

28storms.com Tropical Weather Discussion
8:50PM EDT, THURSDAY, JULY 1, 2010
Now that Alex is inland and dissipating over the mountainous terrain of Mexico, attention shifts elsewhere. The first area worth monitoring is the northern Gulf of Mexico, where a stalled front is draped and producing scattered showers and thunderstorms. Environmental conditions are not currently favorable for development in this region. However, forecast models have come into more agreement today on the development of a low pressure just offshore the northern Gulf coast around Day 3. At first, this feature was only consistently being shown by the operational GFS, a model known for suffering from convective feedback. Such development seemed like a convective feedback case. However, this claim has lost some credibility. The CMC, NOGAPS, UKMET, ECMWF, NAM, and the parallel GFS (which supposedly does not have the same issue) are all now showing at least a very weak low in this area early next week. Since most of these models just came to show this feature on their most recent run, it is worth seeing if they still pick it up for a few more runs before fully ruling it out as a product of a GFS problem. Moreover, the environment is not expected to be overly favorable for intensification. But the ocean temperatures are extremely warm, so any low being depicted by the models over such waters is worth watching for potential tropical cyclone development. Any low or tropical cyclone would probably drift westward and stay close to the coast, given the ridge building to its north.

The western Caribbean Sea and southern Gulf of Mexico may yet again become areas to watch late next week. The parallel GFS, CMC, NOGAPS, and ECMWF are all showing development partly from the tropical wave currently approaching the lower Windward Islands. Upper-level wind shear is expected to be quite favorable, as it was with Alex, so this feature will definitely need to be monitored. The ECMWF is actually more bullish on the tropical wave now in the central tropical Atlantic, taking it through the Caribbean Sea and into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by Day 10. While this does not yet have as much model support, the ECMWF has been very consistent in depicting it for the past several runs. Therefore, it, too, may become a potential system of interest by the end of next week. It is too early speculate about the potential tracks of these systems.
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Nothing like a compliment to a few to bring out the true colors of some, never thought there was so much competing on this blog, personally I made the comment which was just my personal opinion and I still mean what I wrote just to see the reaction, I'm glad to say I found out just what I needed to know!Kinda sad.
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Levi32 I must ask you about your location in Alaska. It is unique to be so interested in tropical wx in such a northern climate. DO you have the samje fascination with winter systems?

Quoting Levi32:


Didn't say there was a COC, and again, the comparison can be made to the ITCZ or monsoon trough, which in this situation the vort max would likely be proclaimed a low, though of course it would be at a much lower pressure. The pressure field is indeed rather flat, which is the only thing I can see that doesn't justify this being a low. I think it's a very weak one, but it doesn't really matter right now. What matters is what happens over the water during the next 5-7 days in the NE gulf.
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Thanks TropicFreak--

That is funny that they don't have formation probabilities there but they have it in the western to central gulf... doesn't make a lot of sense.
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Quoting stormpetrol:

I'm not swearing at anyone and as far as I'm concerned with all due respect I thought this blog was for 18 and over, if you can join a blog like this learn to take what you can dish out, I don't care if they have Einstein IQ at 13 and I realize one of the persons I named maybe under 18 but still I think this should be an 18 and over blog!!
I disagree with you on people being over 18. They are learning at 13 and now you sound a little like TampaSpin. Why do the some of the older people on here engage in arguments with kids. Help them learn instead of talking down to them.
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Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
Hey guys... so where is the possible Low situated?


Hey SRT. It might bring us more rain down the line.
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1355. Levi32
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
Hey guys... so where is the possible Low situated?


Just north of the big bend. It will be over water tomorrow.
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1354. bappit
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
This is basically the "Bible" for translation of inches to millibars or vice versa. I would write it down if I were you Baltimorebirds.

To convert inches of mercury to millibars, multiply the inches value by 33.8637526.

To convert millibars to inches of mercury, multiply the millibar value by 0.0295301.



This is a heck of a lot easier.
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...off topic

Has anybody here found a news site which is an acceptable replacement for Google News since Google made the news site useless with their "redesign"?

CRS
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Alex's cool wake is clearly evident in the Gulf:

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1351. Levi32
Strong upper divergence from Alex's outflow will keep widespread convective activity over the NE Gulf of Mexico over the next couple days until shear relaxes.

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Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
Hey guys... so where is the possible Low situated?


NE GOM.
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Hey guys... so where is the possible Low situated?
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:


I've been watching that area in the CATL for a few days now.
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:

up north I buy...we were more in the shearline if there was a true front. I watched the temps all up and down MS and the whole state was in the 80s. If anything the coast was cooler which is expected with a south wind
Pretty normal for a July-ish front...
Last year's cold fronts were anything but normal.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


so true....sometimes I wish I could go back to 13.... :)


I may have to go back to being 13 to figure out this facebook thing. Although that could be a problem because computers weren't invented yet when I was 13. Lol. Oh well. At least I communicate with my son more now. But he's 25. I drive him nuts with the weather report. :)
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THere are many different kinds of lows. You can have an induced low or a heat low without precip. Both of those usually are dry and just cause in increase in the pressure gradient. the heat lows in the mid east tend to surprise some with duststorms.
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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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