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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Thanks aqua, I couldn't remember her name. I think it was actually Claudette? Didn't cause much mischief, mostly rain and some wind. I guess it was early in the season with a C name...
Member Since: June 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 760
1992. P451
Quoting Kristina40:
Didn't we have one of these lows pop up and turn into a TS late last season? I remember going to bed on a Saturday night with nothing of much interest going on and waking up to a TS 40 miles offshore.


Claudette.

However, she was a wave that was around 55W. Several bloggers, particularly Patrap if I recall, said it was going to develop and was only a matter of time. It took it's time but it finally did off the SW coast of FLA.

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It wasn't last year but a couple of seasons back, "Humberto" surprised almost everybody (especially the TPC) by developing quickly near the TX/LA coast. People in this forum were more on top of it than the TPC. Fact....not fiction.
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Quoting P451:
Good morning.

Still fairly active out there.



If your coming to C FL P it is very wet. It has been raining here since 5:30pm yesterday.
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AL 95 2010070212 BEST 0 300N 840W 20 1015 LO
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11262
1988. aquak9
Quoting Kristina40:
Didn't we have one of these lows pop up and turn into a TS late last season? I remember going to bed on a Saturday night with nothing of much interest going on and waking up to a TS 40 miles offshore.


I think that might've been Claudia
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Didn't we have one of these lows pop up and turn into a TS late last season? I remember going to bed on a Saturday night with nothing of much interest going on and waking up to a TS 40 miles offshore.
Member Since: June 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 760
1985. P451
Good morning.

Still fairly active out there.



24 hours
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1984. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
AOI/XX/XX

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1983. SeALWx
Quoting StormW:
Can anyone provide me the link for the GFS Parallel model?


http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwpara/analysis/
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1982. aquak9
has anyone looked at the live feed this morning? Cap just kinda floating on and off the spew.

Not just jiggling, really kinda floating up and down. What a joke.
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Quoting StormW:
Thanks guys!


Models in Orlando at some of the news stations are starting to jump on a low moving WSW to a position west of Tampa this weekend Storm. CMC model is looking interesting and I wonder if this ULL that was east of FL and now in the NW Caribbean is what the CMC is latching onto.
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1980. guygee
I was reading here last night when people kept talking about the "trough-split". I wasn't familiar with that term or its precise meteorological definition, so I googled it. It didn't turn up in the AMS glossary but there were several people talking about it on different weather blogs.

So what exactly do people mean by a "trough-split"? Is it when a trough pulls out and leaves energy behind, or is it something else?
Please help.
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Quoting severstorm:

Morning Jeff, Hey i got 3.93in of rain last night. That was nice. I'm hearing about the potential storm over the weekend.


Hey buddy, since wednesdayI've had 2.45" but just west of me about 5 miles in Apopka over 8" since Wednesday as there have been some serious boundary collisions just to my west. Some long rang range models are indicating lower than normal temps for C and S FL with up to 15" of rain over the 2 weeks.
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Pressure is very low south of Cuba in the area that seems to have some spin to it.
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1975. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)

AOI/XX/XX

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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Yes, it was Hot. Warmest June on Record in South Florida!

Not liking the years the area previous records were broken:
Miami 1998
Ft Lauderdale 1998
Naples 1944


and last month was record heat that broke the record set in 1995
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Quoting StormW:
Can anyone provide me the link for the GFS Parallel model?


Link
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Quoting Jeff9641:
Hey Guys, Good Morning!
I figure I'll stop in for a minute and post. I have noticed as have our local mets in Orlando about the real possibility of tropical developement west of Tampa this weekend which means torrential rain for C FL throught the holiday weekend. The concern is being mentioned based off what the CMC is showing infact some mets have mentioned that some of the in house models they use show a similiar situation as the CMC which could have a TS developing very near the W coast of FL and meandering around the east and west coast of FL for days.

Morning Jeff, Hey i got 3.93in of rain last night. That was nice. I'm hearing about the potential storm over the weekend.
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1970. FLdewey
Sun is peaking over the tops...

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For all those hungering like me for discussions on tropical potential off the Florida Big Bend, here's the Tallahassee NWS office discussion.
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Quoting StormW:


Your back may not be lying to you. I'm in the middle of analysis, but the possibility does exist. Here's one thing I learned from Bastardi 2 seasons ago...During this time of the season, when pressure heights rise over the eastern U.S., and if upper level conditions are conducive, we can see a situational development anywhere from the eastern Gulf, to the Bahamas. A situational development is such that, we don't see anything yet, and models may not even pick up on anything, but with pressure heights rising north of those areas, pressures will naturally lower in those areas mentioned. I haven't had the chance to see all the models yet, but the UKMET shows the 500mb height anomalies rising by Mon. over the Tennessee Valley.
I will take a look at your analysis once it is complete then.

I had the same feeling a few years ago when I was in the Keys and a little tropical system formed directly over head. During that time we were on a boat trip to fish and the largest water spout (I had ever seen) formed. Looked like an F3 if it had been on land. It was very interesting to be on the ground watching the whole tropical cyclone process develop around us.... Now if you ask my wife she will just say "yeah what a horrible week of rain and no sun" lol
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1966. WxLogic
Good morning...

Appears one of the areas discussed yesterday AM is attracting some attention.

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The GFS pseudo storm caused me to cancel my fishing trip offshore. Still not a great weekend to head offshore unless you like rain and thunder, it's gonna be wet.
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I see the area south of the panhandle we were watching last night got shaded yellow. With the way the NHC has been giving out invest status this year it is likely we will see 95L today or tomorrow morning.

06z Surface Analysis.

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Hey Guys, Good Morning!
I figure I'll stop in for a minute and post. I have noticed as have our local mets in Orlando about the real possibility of tropical developement west of Tampa this weekend which means torrential rain for C FL throught the holiday weekend. The concern is being mentioned based off what the CMC is showing infact some mets have mentioned that some of the in house models they use show a similiar situation as the CMC which could have a TS developing very near the W coast of FL and meandering around the east and west coast of FL for days.
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Another wet, deathly still morning here in PC. I hear you about your back, who knew getting older would be so helpful with weather forecasting? lol
Member Since: June 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 760
1961. tkeith
TROPICAL WAVE INTO A TIZZY

is that anything like a hissy fit?
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1959. guygee
Quoting mtyweatherfan90:
Finally after a 6 hour internet absence, I can finally write here again. Monterrey is beyond recognition. Avenues and lanes of Highways have dissapeared as same as bridges. Houses are been swallowed by unimaginable streams that flow through streets. People are refuging at the ceiling of their houses due to the rise of ...water levels. EVERY SINGLE RIVER, CREEK AND OTHER WATER BODY HAS CRESTED. Nothing as this has ever happen before. Last time something similar happen was in the Great Flood of 1909, this might be a 100-year flood. Some spots nearing 850 mm already (34 in), raining very hard and also some gusty winds. None of the local meteorologists, nor local newscasters , or government authorities has experienced something as this before. 1 million people are at darkness as we speak. About 150,000 without water. Gilbert might be seen as a nice summer downpour compared to this.

Several deaths, damages are beyond imagination.
I am glad to hear that you are OK, mty. Our sympathies and prayers are with you and the people of Monterrey. I hope the rains let up soon, the floods recede quickly, and your long recovery process can begin. It is good that you are spreading the news about what is happening, because the whole world needs to do its part to help with the recovery effort.
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1. A WEAK NON-TROPICAL LOW PRESSURE AREA...ASSOCIATED WITH A FRONTAL
ZONE...CENTERED OVER THE EXTREME NORTHEASTERN GULF OF MEXICO IS
EXPECTED TO DRIFT WESTWARD DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. THIS LOW
WILL BE MONITORED FOR ANY SIGNS OF TROPICAL OR SUBTROPICAL
DEVELOPMENT. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM
BECOMING A TROPICAL OR SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48
HOURS.
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Code Yellow 10 percent chance
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1955. MahFL
I see a low on the vis over the FL panhandle.
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1954. Titoxd
By my counts, Alex has left 28 dead throughout its path. (That is based on 13 references, so I will post to the WP article instead, where all the sources are listed.)
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Thank you.Well better get off and get to work.Have a blessed day everyone.OH and good morning StormW
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Gonna go into lurk mode and drink some more coffee; a little slow this morning on the Blog and here at work but lots of folks taking off today to enjoy a longer July 4th weekend and I have to hold the fort down today....Have a Great 4th of July Folks..........WW
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Quoting SeALWx:


I, for one, have no issue with the extraneous use of florid language.


One too many syllables there, SeALWx! (ok, back to the thesaurus for me.)
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Quoting mrsalagranny:
When is the shear expected to relax in the GOM?


Do not know but increasing trend over the next 24 per CIMMS.
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Quoting SeALWx:


I, for one, have no issue with the extraneous use of florid language.


:)
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When is the shear expected to relax in the GOM?
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Quoting earthlydragonfly:
Morning Storm W.! Good morning to all.

There sure seems to be a lot of the right ingredients in the Florida area south to the Western Caribbean Sea for something to cook up. We have a stalled out front, Low pressure (I can tell that from my old back injury), and tons of moisture. Anyone have a beat on this or is my Back lying to me?


Looks pretty decent at first blush, and I mentioned that area south of Cuba as looking interesting, but, no vorticity at all and sheer is pretty brutal at the moment in the Gulf and Yucatan where that area is headed. Low sheer off the East coast of Florida all the way down through the Bahamas and Cuba right now but nothing viable in that slot at the moment me thinks.......Good Morning to You.
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1945. SeALWx
Quoting StormW:


Yeah...I saw that...must be a new Met. who did better at vocabulary than meteorology. All of these "terms", all of a sudden. What ever happened to superfluous?


I, for one, have no issue with the extraneous use of florid language.
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Good morning, NWS Austin:

THE LATTER HALF OF NEXT WEEK LOOKS INTERESTING. THE ECMWF SPINS
UP ANOTHER SYSTEM BY MONDAY IN THE CARIBBEAN...IN THE SAME VICINITY
WHERE ALEX DEVELOPED. THE ECMWF MOVES THIS SYSTEM ACROSS THE YUCATAN
INTO THE SOUTHWEST GULF BY WEDNESDAY...REACHING THE MIDDLE TEXAS
COAST BY FRIDAY OF NEXT WEEK. THE ECMWF HAS HAD GOOD SUCCESS IN
IDENTIFYING DEVELOPING TROPICAL SYSTEM 5 TO 7 DAYS OUT SO IT BEARS
WATCHING.
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Morning Storm W.! Good morning to all.

There sure seems to be a lot of the right ingredients in the Florida area south to the Western Caribbean Sea for something to cook up. We have a stalled out front, Low pressure (I can tell that from my old back injury), and tons of moisture. Anyone have a beat on this or is my Back lying to me?
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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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