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 Baybuddy:
Didnt Spurious coach @ north carolina?


OMG
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Thanks to everyone that show their support for those affected in Northeast Mexico and South Texas. We really appreciate it.
River keeps growing, eating the highways next to it and destroying the asphalt.

As absurd as it my be, animals from La Pastora Zoo (Monterrey's most important one) are fleeing through a broken fence that collapsed due to strong water flow.

Buffalos and wolves are sighted on avenues and streets nearby.

A BUFFALO AND WOLVE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR THE MONTERREY AREA AS OF 1:20 PM CDT. POSSIBLE SURPRISES AND UNBELIEVABLE FOOTAGE ARE LIKELY. LAST REPORT SIGHT THE ANIMALS NEAR THE ZOO, SPREADING THROUGHOUT THE FLOODED STREETS AND AVENUES. A WARNING IS POSSIBLE IF IN LESS THAN A 10 METER DISTANCE. ALL PRECAUTIONS SHOULD BE TAKEN. NEXT ADVISORY WILL BE ONCE THE ANIMALS APPROACH LOCAL REPORTERS.

FORECASTER DANIEL
$$$
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Didnt Spurious coach @ north carolina?
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Quoting stillwaiting:
I don't see anything to indicate a surface low forming yet,I'd be looking over water not land for a surface low to possibly form in the next 96hrs....


I dont think anyone was saying it was a surface low but its possibility later if it gets over water.. We will see I havent seen sun today lol
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Quoting Drakoen:


This reveals winds out of the east south of the suspected low.



You just showed exactly where the low is. Look at this visible loop again and tell me where the center of spin is and you'll see those surface obs are easterlies on the north side of the low like one would expect.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
12z ECMWF shows the weak surface trough drifting over the Gulf of Mexico but doesn't do anything with it. It seems more interested in the Caribbean. The last few runs have tried to develop that tropical wave that it shows in the central Caribbean here at 144 hours.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
And from NWS Tallahassee this morning:

SFC ANALYSIS REVEALS AN E-W
STATIONARY FRONT ACROSS CENTRAL GEORGIA AND ALABAMA SEPARATING MID
70S DEWPOINTS TO THE SOUTH FROM MID 60S DEWPOINTS TO THE NORTH. IN
ADDITION...SFC OBS INDICATES A WEAK INVERTED TROUGH ORIGINATING IN
APALACHEE BAY STRETCHING NORTH INTO SOUTH GEORGIA NEAR VALDOSTA.
REGIONAL RADAR ALSO INDICATES SOME LOW TO MID-LEVEL CYCLONIC
TURNING WITH THIS FEATURE.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Quoting IKE:


May just be a weak low.


Like you, I watch the models. Drak, those wind bars are all over the place.
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I don't see anything to indicate a surface low forming yet,I'd be looking over water not land for a surface low to possibly form in the next 96hrs....
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Quoting Levi32:


Looks like a weak surface low to me based on surface obs. A NNW and WSW reading are found near the Florida coast.



This reveals winds out of the east south of the suspected low.

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433. IKE
Quoting StormSurgeon:


What are you implying IKE? Low developing? Thoughts? My thoughts are a long shot at best.
\
Come back


May just be a weak low.
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Monterey continues to be slammed with rain. It looks like the orographic effects from the nearby mountains is playing a big role, based on Brownsville Radar:

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Quoting DestinJeff:
Levi, did you ever hear from Joe B regarding that first video?


No...knew I wouldn't. He probably thought I was just a fan copying things he talks about anyway lol.

Now if he did then it's your fault for embarrassing me :P jking.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
NWS Melbourne, FL Discussion from this morning:

LONG TERM /SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY/...
THE UPPER LEVEL RIDGE AND SURFACE HIGH REMAINS THE DOMINANT
WEATHER FEATURES THROUGH THE FOURTH OF JULY. GFS CONTINUES TO SHOW
A SURFACE WAVE DEVELOPING OVER THE NORTHERN GULF AND THE UPPER
LEVEL TROUGH SQUEEZING OUT THE RIDGING...BUT TEND TO GRAVITATE
TOWARD THE ECMWF WHICH KEEPS DRY AND STABLE CONDITIONS OVER THE
REGION THROUGH THE EXTENDED PERIODS.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Quoting IKE:
Concentrated near the coast....



What are you implying IKE? Low developing? Thoughts? My thoughts are a long shot at best.
\
Come back
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Quoting DestinJeff:
hard for me to ascertain, what is the strength of that Low from the GFS / CMC ... looks significant on the runs, but I am not certain.



You can get a vague idea from the NCEP Cyclogenesis page. At the bottom of each basin is the "Text track file" for the various models. You do have to match up lat/lon with the numbers they assign to each possibility.

Link
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Quoting Drakoen:
Looks like a circulation in the mid levels of the atmosphere as revealed on the cimss 850mb vorticity. Wouldn't really consider it a surface low considering the pressures.


Looks like a weak surface low to me based on surface obs. A NNW and WSW reading are found near the Florida coast.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
Quoting Floodman:


Could be Feigned
LOL Or Facetious...lol
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It all just seems so spurious.
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Quoting swlavp:
Looks Spurious to me


Could be Feigned
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Looks like a circulation in the mid levels of the atmosphere as revealed on the cimss 850mb vorticity. Wouldn't really consider it a surface low considering the pressures.
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Quoting Levi32:
Here's a zoomed-in visible loop showing the surface low as a well-defined spin over the eastern Florida panhandle, east of Tallahassee.


That's a nice view of it. Now once the base of the trough moves through Florida tomorrow and Saturday I expect that surface feature to cut off and hang offshore. And once Alex's remnant energy moves out of there the upper air conditions will be more conducive.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Quoting Levi32:
Here's a zoomed-in visible loop showing the surface low as a well-defined spin over the eastern Florida panhandle, east of Tallahassee.
Looks Spurious to me
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Here's a zoomed-in visible loop showing the surface low as a well-defined spin over the eastern Florida panhandle, east of Tallahassee.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
Quoting atmosweather:


Good afternoon Levi and folks!

The one very interesting thing about this approaching frontal boundary here in Florida is that this one is forecast to dive southward all the way into South Florida...I've hardly ever seen this happen in July. And with a decent blocking ridge to the north and some energy at the tail end of the trough, I'd watch the NE Gulf very carefully this weekend.


Hey Rich! Yup....could end up being an interesting situation. Old fronts sitting in the Gulf of Mexico always mean trouble.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
Quoting IKE:


Since June 28th.....



Thanks Ike.. Some reason it wont let me post those radars or maps.. maybe I was doing that wrong.. but thanks again!
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Quoting Levi32:


Lol.



Good afternoon Levi and folks!

The one very interesting thing about this approaching frontal boundary here in Florida is that this one is forecast to dive southward all the way into South Florida...I've hardly ever seen this happen in July. And with a decent blocking ridge to the north and some energy at the tail end of the trough, I'd watch the NE Gulf very carefully this weekend.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Quoting Joshfsu123:



There looks to be some sort of surface low pressure area (or reflection) near the Tallahassee area in Florida, according to radar.

http://www.wctv6.com


You are correct. There is a low northeast of Tallahassee, but pressures are high right now so significant strengthening of the low is unlikely, plus it's over land at the moment. Pressures will lower in the gulf over the next few days back down to 1012mb levels, at which point we could see deepening of a surface feature. This low will be moving over water eventually.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
412. IKE
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:

Ike.. Can u show the map of percipitation has fallen near us..? basically i know its near the coast..


Since June 28th.....

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With Alex having a mind of his own and not following traditional models maybe the spurious weather patterns are not spurious after all and the models need to be tweaked to include their at present unknown affect on developing storms.

Please somebody with better journalistic skills rewrite this for an easier understanding.
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Quoting IKE:
Concentrated near the coast....


Ike.. Can u show the map of percipitation has fallen near us..? basically i know its near the coast..
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Quoting BermudaHigh:
I don't think he is. He's out to lunch, LOL.
Thanks BH, I had a video to show him and needed his e-mail. I'll get up with him later. Thanks, Alan
Member Since: February 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1125
Quoting Drakoen:
The CMC 12z only keeps the low over water for 2 days before moving onshore into Florida. The GFS 12z cyclone phase looks like someone went loose with a crayon.


Lol.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
Quoting DestinJeff:


man, just down 285 in Niceville I just passed an arc this morning coming in to work.

I bet lol.. Im about to head to destin in a hour or so.. i sure hope it settles down..
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aspectre "Which reminds me that the dictionary definitions of 'spurious' were themselves spurious. Publishing houses really shouldn't allow functional illiterates to define words."
320 gator23 "Do you think the NHC will issue SPURIOUS WATCHES AND WARNINGS?"

Nope, not unless there's some mischief of the "You're fired!" variety. Which is unlikely cuz NHC Watches and Warnings are vetted by many other meteorologists before they're released.
The closest NHC gets is when they run training/warmup exercises. But since they are labeled as such and serve a purpose, they are not spurious.
Everything else is generated by computer algorithms operating on hard data -- under the supervision of brains with LOTS of expertise in catching, investigating, then trashing irrelevancies -- then translated into a humanly usable product by those same experts. And so, the end product is never spurious.

Suppose you are told to sort out a mound of metal coins by denomination, and discover an apple seed in that mound. That apple seed cannot be viewed as a fake or counterfeit coin, can be viewed as false only under the broadest(almost-meaningless)definition of the word since it is obviously not a metal coin.
Therefore the apple seed's presence in that mound is spurious: ie irrelevant within the context of a mound of metal coins, and irrelevant to the task of distinguishing between then sorting those coins.
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Good afternoon.......

What a boring day!!!!!

Well...... It goes to show that no matter how advanced we get in identifying our earths secrets, she shows that we do indeed no nothing about her and her ways.

We have a hurricane with 947 mb of pressure and only 105 mph winds.....

Just look at the other hurricanes that the Doc listed..... Hurricane Alma---974 mb's

Give me a break! Oh well. From everything that I saw yesterday, we should of had at least 115 mph winds way before landfall. But with other storms like Hurricane Andrew, winds were adjusted higher after studies were done.

Maybe a change could come later. Who knows.....
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The CMC 12z only keeps the low over water for 2 days before moving onshore into Florida. The GFS 12z cyclone phase looks like someone went loose with a crayon.
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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.


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.
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402. IKE
Concentrated near the coast....

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Quoting Levi32:


That's what old frontal boundaries and trough-splits in the Gulf of Mexico do when they're trapped underneath a blocking ridge. Those things can just sit and sit and sit until they pop. That kind of a pattern is always trouble when you see an old front sitting in the Gulf of Mexico.



There looks to be some sort of surface low pressure area (or reflection) near the Tallahassee area in Florida, according to radar.

http://www.wctv6.com
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398. IMA
Quoting AstroHurricane001:
You've got the heavy rains over rivers that flow into the Rio Grande toward Brownsville, and the rain is actually moving upriver around the circulation of Alex, over mountains that could trap the rain clouds. Bad combination.


Yes, Astro. It'll be a while before the cities downstream along the Rio Grande, and other rivers, can relax.
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Quoting IKE:


Doing fine. Humid outside.

WZEP AM 1460 DeFuniak Springs, FL, DeFuniak Springs, Florida (PWS)
Updated: 3 sec ago
Mostly Cloudy
81.1 °F
Mostly Cloudy
Humidity: 87%
Dew Point: 76 °F
Wind: 0.0 mph
Wind Gust: 11.0 mph
Pressure: 30.03 in (Steady)
Heat Index: 88 °F
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 7 out of 16
Pollen: .50 out of 12
Pollen Forecast new!
Clouds:
Few 1900 ft
Mostly Cloudy 3400 ft
Mostly Cloudy 4700 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 174 ft

yes it has been really humid.. but with all this rain ive been getting last few hours, it has cooled somewhat..
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omg we may have gotten GlobalWarming but he backkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk
Member Since: July 18, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 994
Afternoon Ike. Pat you here
Member Since: February 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1125
394. IKE
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


Yeah.. its crazy with everything going on.. how u been Ike?


Doing fine. Humid outside.

WZEP AM 1460 DeFuniak Springs, FL, DeFuniak Springs, Florida (PWS)
Updated: 3 sec ago
Mostly Cloudy
81.1 °F
Mostly Cloudy
Humidity: 87%
Dew Point: 76 °F
Wind: 0.0 mph
Wind Gust: 11.0 mph
Pressure: 30.03 in (Steady)
Heat Index: 88 °F
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 7 out of 16
Pollen: .50 out of 12
Pollen Forecast new!
Clouds:
Few 1900 ft
Mostly Cloudy 3400 ft
Mostly Cloudy 4700 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 174 ft
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Quoting AllStar17:
**REPOST**
Alex has already passed over some pretty high mountains in Mexico.


11:00 am NHC Advisory:


Wow, is Alex actually heading SSW?

Quoting Levi32:
It also tries to develop the wave at 40W which will be in the Caribbean at this time.



CMC brings the former Burkina vortex over Haiti? That's bad...

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.


You've got the heavy rains over rivers that flow into the Rio Grande toward Brownsville, and the rain is actually moving upriver around the circulation of Alex, over mountains that could trap the rain clouds. Bad combination.
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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.