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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1193. EricSFL
Quoting StormSurgeon:
Good lord, what's an Atlantic Sea Breeze?


Simply put, during daytime (especially summer) humid sea breezes from both sides of the Florida penninsula collide over the state creating thunderstorms.
Member Since: May 26, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 804
Quoting TexasHurricane:


what does that mean?

Contributed by Chris Landsea

A "TUTT" is a Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough. A TUTT low is a TUTT that has completely cut-off. TUTT lows are more commonly known in the Western Hemisphere as an "upper cold low". TUTTs are different than mid-latitude troughs in that they are maintained by subsidence warming near the tropopause which balances radiational cooling. TUTTs are important for tropical cyclone forecasting as they can force large amounts of vertical wind shear over tropical disturbances and tropical cyclones which may inhibit their strengthening. There are also suggestions that TUTTs can assist tropical cyclone genesis and intensification by providing additional forced ascent near the storm center and/or by allowing for an efficient outflow channel in the upper troposphere. For a more detailed discussion on TUTTs see the article by Fitzpatrick et al. (1995).
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
No but have a few friends involved with Trees for Houston and the Hermann Park Conservancy
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
New weaker TUTT starting to take place.



Western Carrib. seems acclimate..
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
New weaker TUTT starting to take place.



what does that mean?
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Over in Willowbend. House that didn't have any water even close when Meyer Land was under from Allison. Top of the flood plain.
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New weaker TUTT starting to take place. Be back in a bit.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Good lord, what's an Atlantic Sea Breeze?
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1184. Levi32
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Evening Levi!


Hey MH09.

Quoting DestinJeff:


we got the sfc low in the panandle?


Yeah but very weak and ill-defined as pressures are still way up at 1018mb in the area and will remain that way for a couple days. We're still 3-4 days away from when we would look for any real mischief down there.
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Very nice but a work in progress. Saw a flock of Canadian snow geese. The five year plan creates a bird sanctuary/flood prevention zone if funding stays in tact which i imagine it will. Ultimate plan is to create a bike trail linking UH on the bayou to the waterhole.
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1182. EricSFL
Quoting floridaT:
all its been doing for weeks here in naples is rain


That means that the Atlantic seabreeze has been stonger than the Gulf's. Hence, the lack of rain in the Miami metro area.
Member Since: May 26, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 804
What? Fredrik again?
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Quoting DestinJeff:


we got the sfc low in the panandle?
Looking at surface observations and satellite imagery I would say that there is a surface low by the big bend of Florida, albeit it being broad and quite weak.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
28 - That was just plain ridiculous.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
I decided to look over the predictions of the past years for hurricane season.

2000 was predicted to have 11-12 named storms. We ended up having 15.

2002 was predicted to have 9-13 named storms. Ended up with 12.

2003 was predicted to have 11-15 named storms. Ended up with 16.

2004 was predicted to have 12-15 named, we had 15.

2005 was predicted to have also 12-15, we had 28.

2006 was predicted to have 13-17 named storms, ended up with 10.

2007 was predicted to have 13-17 named storms, ended up with 15.

2008 was predicted to have 12-17 named, ended up with 16.

2009 was predicted to have 6-14 named, ended up with 9.



28 storms in 2005...WOW!! That was a very busy year...... If we have another year like that we will be constantly tracking storms.
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Quoting CybrTeddy:
I decided to look over the predictions of the past years for hurricane season.

2000 was predicted to have 11-12 named storms. We ended up having 15.

2002 was predicted to have 9-13 named storms. Ended up with 12.

2003 was predicted to have 11-15 named storms. Ended up with 16.

2004 was predicted to have 12-15 named, we had 15.

2005 was predicted to have also 12-15, we had 28.

2006 was predicted to have 13-17 named storms, ended up with 10.

2007 was predicted to have 13-17 named storms, ended up with 15.

2008 was predicted to have 12-17 named, ended up with 16.

2009 was predicted to have 6-14 named, ended up with 9.

That 2005 one always cracks me up. Funny how they were off by 16 storms.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
all its been doing for weeks here in naples is rain
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Quoting Levi32:
Good afternoon/evening all.
Evening Levi!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
I decided to look over the predictions of the past years for hurricane season.

2000 was predicted to have 11-12 named storms. We ended up having 15.

2002 was predicted to have 9-13 named storms. Ended up with 12.

2003 was predicted to have 11-15 named storms. Ended up with 16.

2004 was predicted to have 12-15 named, we had 15.

2005 was predicted to have also 12-15, we had 28.

2006 was predicted to have 13-17 named storms, ended up with 10.

2007 was predicted to have 13-17 named storms, ended up with 15.

2008 was predicted to have 12-17 named, ended up with 16.

2009 was predicted to have 6-14 named, ended up with 9.

Usually they've been pretty close, with the obvious exception of 2005. So, its likely we'll see at least 17, at most 20.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24575
1172. EricSFL
During the 2004 hurricane season, we barely felt the effects of any of the Hurricanes that hit Florida, yet most of the insurance claims came from Broward and Dade Counties. LOL
Member Since: May 26, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 804
stayaway - You wouldn't happen to be affiliated with the Braes Bayou Pocket Prairie would you?
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1170. Levi32
Good afternoon/evening all.
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Ivan was a strange one. Honestly amazing.
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The GOM is like a funnel right now.
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Read about Ivan's redevelopment in the GOM, quite interesting.
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Haven't been over to the Willow Waterhole yet. Is it pretty nice.
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
Shear has to let up soon if the NE GOM or the 60W Windward Islands disturbances want to develop.
Even the ECMWF is forecasting development with that tropical wave and another tropical wave too. After the wave at 60˚W makes its way across the Caribbean it makes "landfall" right by Belize and the Yucatan and then develops in the Gulf of Mexico.

ECMWF 12z 168 hours, notice the 1007mb low in the GOM. That is the same wave that is right now at 60˚W.



The ECMWF also develops a tropical wave currently by 40˚W accompanied by an anticyclone aloft in the Caribbean and in the GOM in the 12z run too. Here is the wave at 144 hours just south of Haiti.



As you advance in time to 240 hours the wave that is south of Haiti is in the GOM as a 1001mb low and the other wave that was in the GOM already made landfall.

ECMWF 12z 240 hours.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
It's definitely going to be an interesting season. Have a feeling someone's going to wacked pretty hard. Just one of those years. Conditions are just too ripe this summer.
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Link to a great flood prevention and environmental recreation zone in Houston. Redeveloping a blighted area and great for migratory birds.
http://www.wwgc.org/
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so basically dr master's can't explain the pressure being so low on alex? it really has me worried of the things to come.
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Quoting FLdewey:
Yeah storms have been forming just W of I95 and wondering inland. Will be nice to get some westerly flow again... tired of watering the plants.


Got slammed with 3.2 inches this afternoon in east Orlando...first significant rain in over a week. My lawn enjoyed it.
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Where's TampaSpin been? Just askin'
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1158. EricSFL
Quoting Kristina40:
Eric, he meant the middle one. I misread his post. I'm personally watching the one on my doorstep up here in Panama City. It's been dumping on us for two days now with more to come. Grtting a little break right now.


The panhandle has gotten alot of rain this year, right? We had more than enough here until about early June, but nothing lately.
Member Since: May 26, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 804
Didn't flood in Allison, so no worries here.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
You may be asking why I'm so interested in that wave, and you can blame that one on the GFS. 12z GFS shear analysis and forecast suggests that as this wave progresses through the Caribbean that it will acquire an anticyclone aloft aiding outflow and re-directing shear around the system.

GFS 12z 84 hours.



Yikes let's hope that's not accurate. But if ya ask me, the GFS was pretty accurate with its shear forecast for Alex back when it just got off the Yucatan and it was starting to be affected by 10-20kt shear, but then dealt with no shear the entire rest of the trip.
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Not too far from you stayaway. Braes Heights resident here.
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Off of the south loop and luckily out of the flood zone. Braes bayou is well above the concrete lining. Rain gauge at 3.5 inches today
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
Shear has to let up soon if the NE GOM or the 60W Windward Islands disturbances want to develop.


Woops, forgot to post pic:

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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The one in the large red circle.

You may be asking why I'm so interested in that wave, and you can blame that one on the GFS. 12z GFS shear analysis and forecast suggests that as this wave progresses through the Caribbean that it will acquire an anticyclone aloft aiding outflow and re-directing shear around the system.

GFS 12z 84 hours.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Eric, he meant the middle one. I misread his post. I'm personally watching the one on my doorstep up here in Panama City. It's been dumping on us for two days now with more to come. Grtting a little break right now.
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LOL!!!!!!!!!

Quoting HurricaneSwirl:

01/1745 UTC 22.8N 101.1W OVERLAND ALEX -- East Pacific

Yay, we officially have nothing in the Atlantic. :)

Any way 1 storm down and 22 more to go
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Shear has to let up soon if the NE GOM or the 60W Windward Islands disturbances want to develop.
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Can't see the circle.
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
I'm bad with longitude and latitude which one is that.
The one in the large red circle.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1143. EricSFL
Quoting Kristina40:
The one coming off of Africa @ Eric.


I'll take it but make sure it's weak. lol
Member Since: May 26, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 804

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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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