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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743. xcool


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Any possibility that the remnants of Alex could reach the Pacific? Or will it be busted up buy the mountains as it crosses Mexico?
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Quoting Dirtleg:
Geez..if I'm gonna get banned I'd better post this then too...the chicks he rolls with



OMG this doesnt get better than this, Let me get them digits. hahahahahahahaha
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I love trolling a troll......so back to business now. :)
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Quoting MississippiWx:
KOTG-

If I'm not mistaken, that spin over Cuba could be the remnants of 94L.

It the TUTT that was over me and enhancing 94Ls convection. Once it moved north the convection went with it and 94L died...very sad I had high hopes 94 would be a TS north of me and bring on some surfing. A new TUTT is building in now but not supposed to last long
Member Since: September 1, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1007
Quoting scott39:
Will the low in the NE GOM have time to become a TD or TS?
Looks like it has a chance, haven't done much in the last couple minutes in terms of analysis, but I'll check later.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Do you concur sir??
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I've seen everyone mention that the EURO has a system coming into the Gulf in about 8 days, but what I haven't seen mentioned is that the EURO also has a TD/TS moving into Mexico at almost the same location of Alex as well.

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Quoting scott39:
Will the low in the NE GOM have time to become a TD or TS?


Please God no!
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Quoting StormSurgeon:


It was me....

Flood is the poster known as ......uhhhhh....storm kat/cop/crap? Funny thing is, Flood knows I'm kidding. I'm the rap!


LOL...good thing I love you, dude or I would have taken that as a deadly insult!
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If ya had plans to see the last ones :)

NASA resets dates for final two shuttle launches
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732. xcool
Dirtleg OH WOW
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731. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
You haven't seen anything yet, just take a look at that same graph when there is a hurricane.


I looked yesterday afternoon w/Alex. Yeah...it was much higher on LLC and ULD.
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Quoting atmosweather:


Yes...GFS has stuck with the development of a subtropical type cutoff low that hangs around the NE Gulf coast into the beginning of next week. NAM and ECMWF still keep ridging as the dominant pattern. It's an interesting scenario...tail-end of stalled out fronts in the Gulf usually bear watching.

And GFS keeps it around for days on end...

From the 00 z run, this would be horrid for oil spill concerns:


From the 12 Z run, this would be great for oil spill concerns, mostly:
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
729. xcool
scott39 TD
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Quoting Floodman:


Some three years ago JFV showed up here and as most pilgrims to the site, he knew very little about tropical weather and was full of the usual questions. He asked his questions and got the answers he sought, but for some reason, he would continue to ask the same questions over and over again...initally, some of us thought that he was seeing how many different answers he could get for the same questions...after a while, though, it became apparent that he was one the most rare of trolls, the inadvertant troll. He wasn't aware of his trollery, which gained him some sympathy from some of us...from a usage standpoint, his grasp of the language was average, but his use of idio and his "grasp" of grammar and spelling were rather, let's say, unique, giving his posts a nearly unmistakable phrasing.

Over the course of two or three months he went from mildly amusing, through minor annoyance to full blown screamer, at which point he drew his first permanent ban. Oddly, within a few days, there was a new blogger with a unique method of phrasing that seemed somehow hauntingly familiar...we are now on the the...wait a minute, I'll count them... I have 11, so the 12th incarnation of the this happy fellow...


You left out the shower curtains, improper spelling, and made up words. My favorite is the word "thretter".
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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 !@#$, -_-.


Chill out Mr. V
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Quoting atmoaggie:
In 48 hours, SREF calling for some chance of greater than 25 knot winds for the coasts of MSALFL.



Our local met showed a computer model that took some big blob right into the Big Bend area of FL. The blob would come right up on shore and just sit for a day. Maybe it's related to that?
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Will the low in the NE GOM have time to become a TD or TS?
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Quoting BFG308:
Ok, so I know Who/What JFV is, but when did he start with this? Where does JFV come from? His initials or first handle, or what? Is he 12 or something?


Some three years ago JFV showed up here and as most pilgrims to the site, he knew very little about tropical weather and was full of the usual questions. He asked his questions and got the answers he sought, but for some reason, he would continue to ask the same questions over and over again...initally, some of us thought that he was seeing how many different answers he could get for the same questions...after a while, though, it became apparent that he was one the most rare of trolls, the inadvertant troll. He wasn't aware of his trollery, which gained him some sympathy from some of us...from a usage standpoint, his grasp of the language was average, but his use of idio and his "grasp" of grammar and spelling were rather, let's say, unique, giving his posts a nearly unmistakable phrasing.

Over the course of two or three months he went from mildly amusing, through minor annoyance to full blown screamer, at which point he drew his first permanent ban. Oddly, within a few days, there was a new blogger with a unique method of phrasing that seemed somehow hauntingly familiar...we are now on the the...wait a minute, I'll count them... I have 11, so the 12th incarnation of the this happy fellow...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
722. IKE
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Hopefully on the 27th they implement the new GFS and that won't occur nearly as much anymore.


July 27th is when it starts?


Quoting sailingallover:

I don't really follow the climate like some but it seems to me they are.. I know all that rain we had here cooled our SST's down about a degree.. the Azores high is fighting in the east to bring colder water down the canary current and it's doing some evaporative cooling too.
Does Dust help raise or lower SST's?


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


Probably SE Louisiana.


LMAO
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Quoting Patrap:
The Summer solstice is the Max Sun Angle in the N Hemisphere,

..but there is a LAg time to the Highest SSTs, which usually Occurs around 60-70 Days later around the End of August, and the Historical Peak of Cane season is September 10th.

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!!!
Member Since: September 1, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1007
Quoting SeALWx:

It would be nice to be able to say, "Remember back when the GFS still had all those grid scale convective feedback problems. Boy those were the days!"


The sooner the better, they have been testing it for over a year. Time to "shoot the engineer and start production".
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Quoting xcool:
IKE/ that alot Convergence/
You haven't seen anything yet, just take a look at that same graph when there is a hurricane.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Dirtleg:
JFV!


THAT IS AWESOME!!!!
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KOTG-

If I'm not mistaken, that spin over Cuba could be the remnants of 94L.
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Quoting IKE:


Probably SE Louisiana.

Thanks IKE
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In 48 hours, SREF calling for some chance of greater than 25 knot winds for the coasts of MSALFL.

Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting StormSurgeon:


Sorry, thought you were SWalWx. Where are you SE? Mobile here.
All good. Up here in Pike County, near Troy.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Is this the extra-tropical low that GFS-operational wants to develop and GFS-parallel and NAM refuse to?

Man, I hope that thing does develop and stays east of the oil slicks...that would be great!


Yes...GFS has stuck with the development of a subtropical type cutoff low that hangs around the NE Gulf coast into the beginning of next week. NAM and ECMWF still keep ridging as the dominant pattern. It's an interesting scenario...tail-end of stalled out fronts in the Gulf usually bear watching.
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710. xcool
IKE/ that alot Convergence/
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707. xcool
guess have Watching Gulf now .
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706. IKE
Low Level Convergence....




Upper Level Divergence....

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Quoting atmoaggie:

Is this the extra-tropical low that GFS-operational wants to develop and GFS-parallel and NAM refuse to?

Man, I hope that thing does develop and stays east of the oil slicks...that would be great!


Human models are beginning to talk about it also.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Hopefully on the 27th they implement the new GFS and that won't occur nearly as much anymore.

It would be nice to be able to say, "Remember back when the GFS still had all those grid scale convective feedback problems? Boy those were the days!"
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Well this iz no Phun..


Later

minus,minus,minus
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Quoting Dirtleg:
JFV!

Please let another storm form so we don't have to post pictures like this!
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Quoting atmosweather:


Plenty of mid level energy around that area helping with the rainfall today. Once that front finally pushes south of the border we may see more of a surface low develop since the tail-end of the front will be nicely positioned in the NE GOM.

Is this the extra-tropical low that GFS-operational wants to develop and GFS-parallel and NAM refuse to?

Man, I hope that thing does develop and stays east of the oil slicks...that would be great!
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting SeALWx:
???


Sorry, thought you were SWalWx. Where are you SE? Mobile here.
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697. xcool



TampaSpin CRAZY MAN LOL
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Quoting IKE:


From what I've read from Dr. Masters, the above normal SST's are suppose to be getting closer to normal this summer.

I don't really follow the climate like some but it seems to me they are.. I know all that rain we had here cooled our SST's down about a degree.. the Azores high is fighting in the east to bring colder water down the canary current and it's doing some evaporative cooling too.
Does Dust help raise or lower SST's?
Member Since: September 1, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1007
So what are we speaking about? I was reading down the blog and I saw people speaking about a spin over Cuba.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting xcool:
TampaSpin
?


It was a joke! Just kidding.....i seen where one of the 13yo was complaining about insults.
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693. xcool
Dirtleg LMAO
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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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