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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Quoting IKE:


I remember that system. Someone else mentioned it earlier today on here.


Yeah, I was actually in Destin at the time it developed, so that's what made my memory jog back to when it happened. We were hoping it wouldn't strengthen and come hit us while we were there. Luckily, we never even got a drop of rain from it.
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842. IKE
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


The discussion mentioned sustained tropical storm force winds at Zacatecas. But I don't see that on the wunderground history link.



I remember when the NHC had Faye(Fay?), as a TS still, right before it died for good...and the coordinates were within 10 miles of me. Our winds were under 10 mph!
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Hey, Storm!
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NAM, ECMWF, CMC, GFS, and NOGAPS all develop some sort of system.

Could see Bonnie and Colin before too long.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24172
839. xcool
FLdewey: LMAO
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


I was wondering if there is something that does develop in the NE GOM, would it end up going to one of those states or could it be pushed to the W. GOM? I was thinking something like that has happened before....just curious.

Sure has!



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Ok honestly enough of "BermudaHigh". I'll just stick to lurking unless there is actually tropics related content.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
835. IKE
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Think thats the area currently ~60W.


Agree.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
834. IKE
Quoting MississippiWx:


Here is an example of a storm that formed from a similar situation. I was just about to say how models forecast stuff like this every year and it never pans out, then I caught myself. I remembered it actually did happen, very recently, in 2008.

Tropical Cyclone Report
Tropical Storm Edouard
(AL052008)
3-6 August 2008
James L. Franklin
National Hurricane Center
14 November 2008
Edouard was a short-lived tropical storm that made landfall along the upper Texas coast.
a. Synoptic History
The remnants of a front moved southward into the northern Gulf of Mexico on 2 August,
in the form of a weak surface trough of low pressure. Shower activity became more
concentrated along the trough south of the Florida panhandle during the day, and by early on 3
August a small area of low pressure had formed. By 1200 UTC that day the low had developed a
well-defined circulation with sufficient convective organization to be designated a tropical
depression. At this time the center was located about 140 n mi south of Pensacola, Florida.




I remember that system. Someone else mentioned it earlier today on here.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting BermudaHigh:
Greco, you are so right. I am so sorry, plz forget moi. Thou is apologetic, :(.


delete everything so you don't get banned ASAP...it works....LOL
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Quoting IKE:
Hmmm....at 84 hours(GOM low strengthens), and what's that in the western Caribbean?.....



Think thats the area currently ~60W.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Here is an example of a storm that formed from a similar situation. I was just about to say how models forecast stuff like this every year and it never pans out, then I caught myself. I remembered it actually did happen, very recently, in 2008.

Tropical Cyclone Report
Tropical Storm Edouard
(AL052008)
3-6 August 2008
James L. Franklin
National Hurricane Center
14 November 2008
Edouard was a short-lived tropical storm that made landfall along the upper Texas coast.
a. Synoptic History
The remnants of a front moved southward into the northern Gulf of Mexico on 2 August,
in the form of a weak surface trough of low pressure. Shower activity became more
concentrated along the trough south of the Florida panhandle during the day, and by early on 3
August a small area of low pressure had formed. By 1200 UTC that day the low had developed a
well-defined circulation with sufficient convective organization to be designated a tropical
depression. At this time the center was located about 140 n mi south of Pensacola, Florida.




I was thinking something like that happened before...
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
There are going to be so many 24hr bans handed out, this blog is going to be a graveyard tomorrow. LOL.
Great!
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting BermudaHigh:


I have a case against him, it's called, ''identity theft''. Anyways, enough of that.


And which of your 11 identities did he steal?
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Quoting FLdewey:
Shhhh I was trying to get him to say it. ;)


Oops sorry.
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CMC 12z 84 hours. Note the system by the big bend of Florida.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting CybrTeddy:
B storm is Bonnie.


Too bad C storm couldn't be Clyde.
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Quoting Drakoen:


Yes that is that vort we should be focus on for the potential for low pressure cyclongenesis


Here is an example of a storm that formed from a similar situation. I was just about to say how models forecast stuff like this every year and it never pans out, then I caught myself. I remembered it actually did happen, very recently, in 2008.

Tropical Cyclone Report
Tropical Storm Edouard
(AL052008)
3-6 August 2008
James L. Franklin
National Hurricane Center
14 November 2008
Edouard was a short-lived tropical storm that made landfall along the upper Texas coast.
a. Synoptic History
The remnants of a front moved southward into the northern Gulf of Mexico on 2 August,
in the form of a weak surface trough of low pressure. Shower activity became more
concentrated along the trough south of the Florida panhandle during the day, and by early on 3
August a small area of low pressure had formed. By 1200 UTC that day the low had developed a
well-defined circulation with sufficient convective organization to be designated a tropical
depression. At this time the center was located about 140 n mi south of Pensacola, Florida.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:


Yes that is that vort we should be focus on for the potential for low pressure cyclongenesis


Yep i would say most certainly so....it is embedded within the trough...and definetly warm core....



This could really be bad for that area with the OIL!
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818. IKE
Hmmm....at 84 hours(GOM low strengthens), and what's that in the western Caribbean?.....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting BermudaHigh:
Dirtleg, I should press charges on you for that. I will contact Dr. Masters, immediately about this. You've surpassed your limit with me, !@#$%^&*().


wow this is only a blog...everybody should really cool down. Its kind of like facebook you know, don't post anything that can be used later on in a public matter or resource. Let's return to the science of things and stop posting attacks. I rather here what Drak, Patrap, Ike, Levi, StormW have to say about the possible developments in the Gulf and Caribbean anyways. Going back to lurker status now:)
Member Since: January 6, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 339
814. IKE
Quoting TexasHurricane:


I was wondering if there is something that does develop in the NE GOM, would it end up going to one of those states or could it be pushed to the W. GOM? I was thinking something like that has happened before....just curious.


Looks like it might drift west....although the CMC takes it across Florida....Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting atmoaggie:

So NAM finally picks up on it...was developing it off the coast of GA a few days ago, dropped it, and now back, about where GFS has been screaming for it over and over again.
Hmm...
Very interesting. Let's see...
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting BermudaHigh:


I have a case against him, it's called, ''identity theft''. Anyways, enough of that.


BOGUS!!!! You posted those photos on a public blog, they are now in the public domain. you have no case at all.
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Quoting FLdewey:
So that IS a picture of you?


Thats him alright.
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NAM has the system south of the 850mb ridge axis:



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There are going to be so many 24hr bans handed out, this blog is going to be a graveyard tomorrow. LOL.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
806. IKE
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Is anyone else surprised that Alex has hung on to tropical storm status this long? I am.


I thought he would be a TD on the 4 pm advisory....being his winds had fallen to 50 mph on the 10 am advisory.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting IKE:
GFS has company....18Z NAM @ 60 hours...


So NAM finally picks up on it...was developing it off the coast of GA a few days ago, dropped it, and now back, about where GFS has been screaming for it over and over again.
Hmm...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Is anyone else surprised that Alex has hung on to tropical storm status this long? I am.


It was really building energy up as it made landfall.
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Quoting IKE:
NAM shifting west at 72 hours...first time the NAM has really shown a low...albeit weak...



I was wondering if there is something that does develop in the NE GOM, would it end up going to one of those states or could it be pushed to the W. GOM? I was thinking something like that has happened before....just curious.
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Quoting atmoaggie:
Hey, how about someone make a [3-initials] blog of your own and you guys can all talk about him all you want and still be on topic?


I have to apologize, Atmo...I should have more self control than to feed the (you know who)...
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Quoting IKE:


LOL...yeah...that's it.



...
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Quoting IKE:
GFS has company....18Z NAM @ 60 hours...



Similar position to the GFS 12z run too.
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Quoting StormChaser81:


Thats the surface low I was talking about on radar or it could be a upper low and thats why the observations are not showing it.


Its not upper when it shows up a the 850mb Vorticity....its near the surface.
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So someone stole your account, created all those names and types just like you to make it seem realistic?


Sorry not buying it lol

Anyway moving on, just wanted to know
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7816
Quoting BermudaHigh:


I have a case against him, it's called, ''identity theft''. Anyways, enough of that.
ROFLMAO.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194

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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.