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 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?

JFVunderground.com? I love the idea. Where can I buy my JFV bobble head?
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Good afternoon, Senior Chief, how are ya?
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Quoting StormW:
Good afternoon!


Afternoon Storm. Thanks for all of your input over the last few days.

Hope you get a break!!
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Nice little spin at 850mb just on Shore near the Panhandle....don't know if that is the thing the GFS and CMC is showing or not....







Yes that is that vort we should be focus on for the potential for low pressure cyclongenesis
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JFV has become a sort of an ol'wives tale or urban legend among this community of posters. The mystery of who is the real JFV seems to permeate many of the lags between hurricanes on this site...lol;0
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787. IKE
Quoting Drakoen:
NAM simulated radar is that teh eye?



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

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786. DDR
Nasty weather here in Trinidad since this am
Squall line coming in fast...
Link
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


Ok direct question and I would like a direct answer

If what some on this site say is true, why do you continuously circumnavigate bans only to get yourself into more and more trouble? Do you need attention that bad?

You are pretty easy to track and by my count you have had 5 different names just in the last 6 weeks. Once you are banned you immediately come back, my question to you is why do you immediately come back?


I have a case against him, it's called, ''identity theft''. Anyways, enough of that.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Nice little spin at 850mb just on Shore near the Panhandle....don't know if that is the thing the GFS and CMC is showing or not....







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.
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Quoting StormW:
Good afternoon!


Hi Storm.....
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
782. IKE
NAM shifting west at 72 hours...first time the NAM has really shown a low...albeit weak...

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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, !@#$%^&*().


An empty threat, as you are currently circumventing your 11th ban, JFV...

Further, as we have no truly imminent threat anywhere, the bans are somewhat less stringent and the posting of an errant (and really funny) photo would like as not result in little more than a warning
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Nice little spin at 850mb just on Shore near the Panhandle....don't know if that is the thing the GFS and CMC is showing or not....





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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, !@#$%^&*().


Ok direct question and I would like a direct answer

If what some on this site say is true, why do you continuously circumnavigate bans only to get yourself into more and more trouble? Do you need attention that bad?

You are pretty easy to track and by my count you have had 5 different names just in the last 6 weeks. Once you are banned you immediately come back, my question to you is why do you immediately come back?
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7866
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, !@#$%^&*().


I think Dr, Masters has you on his ignore list.

I would just give up and learn to live with your WU blog addiction.
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This blog is insane. But please keep em' comin' I'm having a good good laugh.
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NAM simulated radar is that teh eye?

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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?
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
771. IKE
Quoting sailingallover:

Who's the Dust expert in this place??? I know it kills convection and gets oppressive and hot down here when I'm in it and it makes your sinuses ache. But does it block more sunlight heat energy coming in or block more heat going out?


That's what I was thinking.
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Quoting BermudaHigh:


You're utterly sick, why do you care, why do you want to know? Geeze, talk about big brother, :).


Unless you're really JFV, why would you feel a need to strike back?
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Quoting IKE:
GFS has company....18Z NAM @ 60 hours...

That would be a good position, mostly, for keeping the oil off the beaches and out of the marsh...as opposed to the 00 Z GFS run...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting hcubed:


I agree.

Maybe we should rewrite the dictionary.

Instead of using one three-letter group to signify we're laughing at a joke (LOL), we should use another three-letter group to describe the joke itself (JFV).


I think that's a pious idea...we really do need to delineate between a joke or play on words and a blogger who IS a joke...JFV
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


My favorite of his is the word 'darstic'

As in:

Loooooooooocy! If you don't stop yo crazy schemes, I'm gonna have to get darstic!


Or when he gets real mad he starts speaking in spanish. I think he needs professional help about blogging, it taking over his life.

I just see him running from coffee shop screaming I need another IP address, must get IP address.

=)
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Quoting BFG308:
Flood, the full explanation is greatly appreciated. I've been lurking for about a year and a half. Maybe a little more. I finally decided to get a handle and jump in the action. I remember hearing about the drama last year, but never caught the whole shabang. Now I know...

That being said, since the blog is rather quiet, I have a question. I asked this a couple days ago but...blog moved too fast.

Where does the 850mb Vorticity plot come from? What info goes into that? I don't need the full explanation if someone can furnish a link or something. Thanks guys
850mb vorticity is a graph that comes from CIMSS that measures the spin at the 850mb level in the atmosphere. The 850mb level isn't at the surface but right above it, just about 5000ft. We use vorticity to measure if there is some sort of spin at the 850mb level which could translate into the development of a surface low, etc... I'm sure Drakoen or someone like that can explain better, I'm just giving an overview.
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Quoting FLdewey:
I remember those days... I tried to make him feel better by showing he wasn't the only one with cool shower curtains.



LOL
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757 & 758 LOL
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761. IKE
GFS has company....18Z NAM @ 60 hours...

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Quoting IKE:


July 27th is when it starts?




I'm not sure. My guess would be it lowers them just slightly?

Who's the Dust expert in this place??? I know it kills convection and gets oppressive and hot down here when I'm in it and it makes your sinuses ache. But does it block more sunlight heat energy coming in or block more heat going out?
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Quoting BermudaHigh:


Banned, we'll see who gets the last laugh after having posted something like this. Analfabeto asqueroso, you sick !@#$, -_-.


Just offhand, I'd say that the fishing expedition worked just fine! BUSTED!!!!! ROTFLMAO!!!
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I remember those days... I tried to make him feel better by showing he wasn't the only one with cool shower curtains.
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Quoting sailingallover:

ICAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNTTTTT TAKE ANOTHER 90 DAYS!!! NO NO!!! From now on we need development in 2 days or less to at least TD or not at all!!!



Be careful what you wish for...
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Quoting deknaps:
Any possibility that the remnants of Alex could reach the Pacific? Or will it be busted up buy the mountains as it crosses Mexico?


very unlikely it will make its traverse across Mexico. Probably going to end up with a stomach from drinking the water.
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491 mm (19.3 in) of rainfall recorded at Estanzuela, Nuevo León
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:) I've been around awhile.....it's well worth a short..or maybe even a lengthy ban.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
AOI
CYCLONIC TURNING PRESENT


Good find....your getting really good using that Plymouth site.....it is really good.

Seems to be at the mid or Upper Levels i believe...unless it just started, but nothing is at the 850mb Vorticity but something is at 500mb Vorticity.

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Quoting Dirtleg:
I love trolling a troll......so back to business now. :)


Better enjoy your blogging time, I have a feeling its coming to a end shortly.

But way worth it. Just keep them coming.
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Quoting CaneWarning:


You left out the shower curtains, improper spelling, and made up words. My favorite is the word "thretter".


I thought I'd leave the curtains to someone else...the spelling, well, that's covered in the unique "phrasing"...LOL
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Quoting RTLSNK:
Last blog:
#609 - BermudaHigh : ebcause
#615 - BermudaHigh : TIA, sir

This blog:
#305 - BermudaHigh : ^_^
#391 - BermudaHigh : teh
#485 - BermudaHigh : anotehr
#511 - BermudaHigh : excpetionally

Hmmm, curious, looks familiar somehow. :)


I agree.

Maybe we should rewrite the dictionary.

Instead of using one three-letter group to signify we're laughing at a joke (LOL), we should use another three-letter group to describe the joke itself (JFV).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Flood, the full explanation is greatly appreciated. I've been lurking for about a year and a half. Maybe a little more. I finally decided to get a handle and jump in the action. I remember hearing about the drama last year, but never caught the whole shabang. Now I know...

That being said, since the blog is rather quiet, I have a question. I asked this a couple days ago but...blog moved too fast.

Where does the 850mb Vorticity plot come from? What info goes into that? I don't need the full explanation if someone can furnish a link or something. Thanks guys
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
well we need to have invest 95L declared before Alex's last advisory is issued because since 90L we have not had a single day go by without an invest or an active storm out there to track
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745. IKE
Quoting scott39:
Will the low in the NE GOM have time to become a TD or TS?


I would say there's a chance.
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Quoting IKE:


July 27th is when it starts?




I'm not sure. My guess would be it lowers them just slightly?


The 27th is the scheduled implementation date, if it passes its "tests", improvement over the current version with no bad "side effects".
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743. xcool


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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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