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:


Well....maybe it will amount to something.


Not with teh frontal boundary attached to teh low lol
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This is dumb...


model
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Quoting IKE:


Teh blog makes me laugh. A lot of smart people on here makes it worth teh time. You find out htings a lot sooner hten anywhere else.


Fix'd your post haha. But I agree.
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Quoting CaneWarning:


I thought it was Bubba.

HAHA Bubba I used to call this kid down the street that name.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Well maybe our 'low' is centered near Perry, FL. Pressure is 1017.9 mb there.

Man, that's deep! ;)


LOL. There's gotta be a low in there somewhere lmao
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Quoting IKE:


Well....maybe it will amount to something.


Maybe.. but not much. I agree with your previous posts though.

Any idea where it'll go after it gets into water? Because if it sort of sits there and then comes north again which is what they usually do it probably won't have enough time.
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536. IKE
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Well maybe our 'low' is centered near Perry, FL. Pressure is 1017.9 mb there.

Man, that's deep! ;)


Give it 48 hours...maybe teh spurious low will actually verify.
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Teh weather is humid...with rain in teh area.


( snort, giggle )

;)
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534. IKE
Quoting StormSurgeon:


That's teh truth....LOL


Teh blog makes me laugh. A lot of smart people on here makes it worth the time. You find out things a lot sooner then anywhere else.
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Quoting IKE:


Teh weather is humid...with rain in teh area.


LOL
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Quoting IKE:


Teh weather is humid...with rain in teh area.


That's teh truth....LOL
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Quoting NRAamy:
What's the "B" storms name anyway?

Beavis....


I thought it was Bubba.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting Hurricanes101:


please excuse anyone on this site for not being able to tell the difference, since 95% of all "debates" on here are actually "argument" and cannot be done without insults

we are not familiar with the pleasant debates on here like you and Drak have


Picking a side and defending it against another side is arguement with or without insults.
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528. IKE
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
TAFB 48 hours




Well....maybe it will amount to something.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Man your Modelcasting Stations!


It looks like 4 Highs surround this system, It could just stall right there...hmm
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TAFB 48 hours


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Quoting BermudaHigh:
Guys, plz do not argue, you two are excpetionally smart when it comes to the tropics, right, gang?


Wait a minute, you sound familiar.

Did GW get banned already?
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Quoting Levi32:


We don't argue, we debate. There's a difference when people are yelling insults versus presenting data and drawing conclusions about it.


please excuse anyone on this site for not being able to tell the difference, since 95% of all "debates" on here are actually "argument" and cannot be done without insults

we are not familiar with the pleasant debates on here like you and Drak have
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522. IKE
Quoting BermudaHigh:
Good call there, Levi. How's everything up there in the Panhandle Springs, this afternoon, Ike?


Teh weather is humid...with rain in teh area.
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I'm out 'til later.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Quoting IKE:


I doubt anything substantial happens off that.

Now...the storm the ECMWF is showing...I won't discount. Not after it's track record w/Alex.


The Gulf is ripe and hot, no doubt. Scares me to think even a little depression pops up.
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518. IKE
*popcorn lightly salted*
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Quoting BermudaHigh:
Guys, plz do not argue, you two are excpetionally smart when it comes to the tropics, right, gang?


We don't argue, we debate. There's a difference when people are yelling insults versus presenting data and drawing conclusions about it.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
516. IKE
Quoting Levi32:


This morning he briefly mentioned the area of heavy precip in the NE gulf associated with the front that may have a chance to feedback later on. He's just watching it, like me.


Thanks.
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Quoting IMA:
Most of the rain in the San Antonio area seems to want to avoid the city for a bit - most of it. The heaviest looks like it's headed for the rivers that really don't need another single drop right now.


My sister-in-law (a recent transplant from north of Dallas) lives up on the north side of San Antonio, and she said they have had a lot of rain.
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514. IMA
Quoting MrNatural:


I live in Austin and have been following the rains as well. It looks like the area to the s & e are beginning to fill in with rain. Lots of rain for both of us starting again later this afternoon and continuing. Possible and probable flooding. SA & Austin NWS have flash flood watches out. Please be careful.
Earlier it looked like the bulk of the rain was split & going NW & NE of San Antonio. Now radar has both of those areas getting lighter & the "gap" that was there for San Antonio if filling in & getting heavier. lol

You be careful too, neighbor :)
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Quoting Levi32:


That station is the lowest one by a good several tenths. The 1018mb pressure you're seeing at the buoy south of Apalachicola is rounded. The buoy is reporting 30.09 inches of mercury or 1018.9mb. The 1018.2mb station is the lowest of all the surrounding stations in its vicinity until you go down the west Florida coast where pressures are naturally lower.

We can agree to disagree...


You are wrong, no low pressure center exists.
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Quoting IKE:
Levi...does JB mentioning anything about trouble in the GOM in 7-10 days. You don't have to post his entire synopsis...but, does he mention anything?


This morning he briefly mentioned the area of heavy precip in the NE gulf associated with the front that may have a chance to feedback later on. He's just watching it, like me.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Quoting IKE:


I doubt anything substantial happens off that.

Now...the storm the ECMWF is showing...I won't discount. Not after it's track record w/Alex.


Agree
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B storm is Bonnie.
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Quoting NRAamy:
What's the "B" storms name anyway?

Beavis....


haaaaaa.....Butthead? Barney?
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507. IKE
Quoting Drakoen:
Models start showing a little something in the northeastern GOM (barely noteworthy)and all of a sudden a low pressure center exists. Please.


I doubt anything substantial happens off that.

Now...the storm the ECMWF is showing...I won't discount. Not after it's track record w/Alex.
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hey i was just lashed with some heavy rain and thunder along with strong gusty winds which lasted only for 1 sec and a hlf watching the satilite and the reflective radar at matinique in my opinion this are about to be rough oh am located in grenada just above trinidad
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Quoting Drakoen:


No, I see a bunch of 1018mb readings in the general area. No relative low pressure center exists.


That station is the lowest one by a good several tenths. The 1018mb pressure you're seeing at the buoy south of Apalachicola is rounded. The buoy is reporting 30.09 inches of mercury or 1018.9mb. The 1018.2mb station is the lowest of all the surrounding stations in its vicinity until you go down the west Florida coast where pressures are naturally lower.

We can agree to disagree...
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Oh come on, that's typical of a low pressure trough along the Gulf Coast in early July...tropical development is remote, and you know it.
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What's the "B" storms name anyway?

Beavis....
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501. IKE
*popcorn in the microwave*
*Coke chilled in ice*
*floss pick for popcorn between teeth*

I'm set!
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Models start showing a little something in the northeastern GOM (barely noteworthy)and all of a sudden a low pressure center exists. Please.
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i love this blog. there is so much J. Bastardi and NHC bashing .on here. yet they both just kicked eveyone's behind in this blog; including StormW,Drakeon,etc. experience will always prevail over model worshipping..How- ever the only way to bash the likes of J.B. means you have to read his column that means when there's something you go and see what he says.. now does JB hype sure does.. yet so does this blog yet he said N Mexico from the get-go.. i read the like houston here it comes galvaston etc and even LA.
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498. IKE
Levi...does JB mentioning anything about trouble in the GOM in 7-10 days. You don't have to post his entire synopsis...but, does he mention anything?
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Looking at the satellite pics, of which xcool's in #469 is a good example, there seems to be tremendous northerly shear over us and the northeast gulf. I don't think we have to worry about development there at this time.


Alex's remnant energy combined with the stalled trough is producing the shear. But in 36-48 hours we will see falling pressures in the area and Alex and the trough will be gone...so the weekend is the time to watch this area
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And Levi, I know what low pressure is. I don't need a refresher course.
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Quoting Levi32:


It's not even invest-worthy. Pressures need to lower back down for it to do anything, and they will be falling back to at least 1012mb levels in 3-4 days.


Oh ok. Thanks!!
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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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