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 BDAwx:
Lets see...
Hurricane Landfalls
2010
Alex (so far)
2009
Ida
2008
Dolly, Gustav, Hannah, Ike, Kyle, Paloma
2007
Dean, Felix, Humberto, Lorenzo
2006
Gordon
2005
Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, Stan, Wilma, Beta
2004
Charley, Frances, Gaston, Ivan, Jeanne
2003
Claudette, Erika, Isabel, Juan
2002
Gustav, Isidore, Lili
2001
Iris, Michelle
2000
Debby, Keith, Michael

thats 3-4 hurricane landfalls per year.


Six hurricane landfalls a year for the analog years.
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:
Interrupting the spurious conversation for a moment...

Arctic sea ice extent:



Sea ice concentration:



Arctic SST anomalies:




Yikes. This could beat 2007 in minimum ice extent.


Arctic death spiral: Naval Postgrad School’s Maslowski “projects ice-free* fall by 2016 (+/- 3 yrs)”
But in the land of make-believe, Watts and Goddard say: "Arctic ice extent and thickness nearly identical to what it was 10 years ago."





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Quoting gator23:


I didnt mean for that to sound accusatory, I was actually wondering since I cant see the video at work. Thank You both!


I wasn't even sure if you meant me or him but I didn't take it that way.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26682
Quoting gator23:

Do you think the NHC will issue SPURIOUS WATCHES AND WARNINGS? They can put them out whenevever one of our members disagrees with them.


Your question maybe ERRONEOUS in that the issue of SPURIOUS Watches is a RANDOM, sometimes ACCIDENTAL or even ARBITRARY occurrence, but certainly only rarely FEIGNED or purposely FRAUDULENT
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Quoting gator23:

Question, why do you single out the GOM when the East coast Carribean are as susceptible to strikes? Is it because you live near the GOM?


I live on the upper coast of Texas, close to the LA border. I realize the Carribean will probably be busy as well. I'm not trying to single out anyone or anyplace...
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Alex's moisture extends very far. The outflow goes into the subtropical jet ahead of the cold front that left the CONUS, and the ridge is trying to split that moisture away from Alex.


No part of Alex is getting split away. The only contribution he may be making to the situation is the added moisture from when he passed through and the upper divergence along the front because his outflow is currently flowing over the area. This is also causing wind shear, but his outflow will clear out in a couple days and wind shear will slacken.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26682
I dont want to picture what August and September will bring us, Levi, gulp.
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Could be like TS Edouard from 08
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


huh? I'm not....
Quoting Levi32:


This was a video talking mostly about the potential home-grown mischief in the Gulf of Mexico next week. I used this instance to tie in the overall pattern to what we may see for much of the season. The eastern Caribbean is not at risk for an imminent strike, and I have already gone over many times how much danger they are in this year over there. The most imminent threat for development next week will be the western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.


I didnt mean for that to sound accusatory, I was actually wondering since I cant see the video at work. Thank You both!
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Quoting Levi32:


Nothing to do with Alex....I commented a couple days ago how the models were trying to tie this in with Alex and they were being stupid. This is a trough-split and an old front...the models were out to lunch with the Alex idea.


Alex's moisture extends very far. The outflow goes into the subtropical jet ahead of the cold front that left the CONUS, and the ridge is trying to split that moisture away from Alex.
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Quoting BermudaHigh:
levi, 456 is expecting our first cv beast to form this month, would you concur with his thinking, given' the expected conditions? TIA.


It is very possible.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26682
levi, 456 is expecting our first cv beast to form this month, would you concur with his thinking, given' the expected conditions? TIA.
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Quoting gator23:

Question, why do you single out the GOM when the East coast Carribean are as susceptible to strikes?


EDIT: thought you were addressing me. My bad.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26682
Quoting gator23:

Question, why do you single out the GOM when the East coast Carribean are as susceptible to strikes?


huh? I'm not....
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Quoting sebastianflorida:
Must say I WAS IMPRESSED by all the info on the video tidbit. I'll look forward to those this season. Great Job!
Quoting WatchingThisOne:


Yes, that is an outstanding video, Levi. Great explanation of the current situation.
Quoting mobilebayal:
Enjoyed your tropical tidbit for today Levi.


Thanks.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26682
Levi, that was an excellent blog. Thanks for the insight. It should be interesting the next week or so as there is alot of moisture along the wave train in the central atlantic.
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Quoting Levi32:
Good morning all.

Tropical Tidbit for Thursday, July 1st

talking about potential mischief to watch for next week.

Bubbling pots and home-grown mischief! This was a particularly good episode of Tropical Tidbits, Levi.
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


Hi Levi,By watching the video,looks like the GOM may be busy this year.....I wonder if we will have another Rita or Katrina....


Hopefully not, but expect a lot of storms passing through the GOM.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26682
Quoting TexasHurricane:


Hi Levi,By watching the video,looks like the GOM may be busy this year.....I wonder if we will have another Rita or Katrina....

Question, why do you single out the GOM when the East coast Carribean are as susceptible to strikes? Is it because you live near the GOM?
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Enjoyed your tropical tidbit for today Levi.
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Quoting Levi32:


Possibly. I'm outlining the areas of possible activity but we'll have to see if anything materializes.


Yes, that is an outstanding video, Levi. Great explanation of the current situation.
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Quoting Levi32:


Don't use Internet Explorer....it has issues with this site and hates my blog in particular.

I use IE8, full updates, and have absolutely no problems whatsoever...that having been said, the settings on your PC and in general Internet options may be screwed up
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321. huber
95L NE of Puerto Rico?
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Quoting aspectre:
Which reminds me that the dictionary definitions of 'spurious' were themselves spurious. The publishing houses really shouldn't allow functional illiterates to define words.

Do you think the NHC will issue SPURIOUS WATCHES AND WARNINGS? They can put them out whenevever one of our members disagrees with them.
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Quoting Levi32:


Possibly. I'm outlining the areas of possible activity but we'll have to see if anything materializes.
Must say I WAS IMPRESSED by all the info on the video tidbit. I'll look forward to those this season. Great Job!
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Quoting hydrus:
You dont mean peanut butter on a hamburger.


Yes, I do...go down to the Quarter and look for Yo Mama's; the bar is great (they used to have 12 diferent beers on tap) and the menu, while limited to mostly sadnwiches and burgers, is varied with a great many "unique" options...

Remember that New Orleans is rather unique when it comes to restaurants: the population is used to outstanding food even from street vendors and if a restaurant gets a following, it means that it is a 5 star just about anywhere else in the country
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Quoting Levi32:


Possibly. I'm outlining the areas of possible activity but we'll have to see if anything materializes.


Hi Levi,By watching the video,looks like the GOM may be busy this year.....I wonder if we will have another Rita or Katrina....
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316. BDAwx
Lets see...
Hurricane Landfalls
2010
Alex (so far)
2009
Ida
2008
Dolly, Gustav, Hannah, Ike, Kyle, Paloma
2007
Dean, Felix, Humberto, Lorenzo
2006
Gordon
2005
Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, Stan, Wilma, Beta
2004
Charley, Frances, Gaston, Ivan, Jeanne
2003
Claudette, Erika, Isabel, Juan
2002
Gustav, Isidore, Lili
2001
Iris, Michelle
2000
Debby, Keith, Michael

thats 3-4 hurricane landfalls per year.
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I agree that Firefox is much better. However, many companies mandate Internet Explorer. If a block seems to be wrapping earlier than it should, try zooming out (ctrl -) and see if it makes it a little better (but it will also cause the text to be smaller). The wrapping is a bi-product of the generated HTML that the site has. That problem can be taken care of by the developer of the site if they wish to.
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This trough thing that may be in the Gulf soon...models are suggesting it going to the new Orleans side of LA?
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Interrupting the spurious conversation for a moment...

Arctic sea ice extent:



Sea ice concentration:



Arctic SST anomalies:




Yikes. This could beat 2007 in minimum ice extent.
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Reminds me that dictionary definitions of 'spurious' posted in the last blog were themselves spurious. Publishing houses really shouldn't allow functional illiterates to define words.
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


GFS is STILL prediciting that convective low, held in place for a week by the BOC (ULL or surface low?) circulation from one of Alex's remnant layers, which has some model support from the CMC, HWRF, and ECWMF? And then it sends the storm over Southern Ontario? I do not like this at all.


Nothing to do with Alex....I commented a couple days ago how the models were trying to tie this in with Alex and they were being stupid. This is a trough-split and an old front...the models were out to lunch with the Alex idea.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26682
310. Chigz
My take on this season 2010:

Seeing how Alex was first storm of the season that became the strongest June hurricane in about 44 years, I reckon that although we probably won't have 2010 numbers close to 2005, the numbers of hurricanes and land falling hurricanes might out do the 2005 season! it seems this year that a reasonably organized will be more likely to form a hurricane given the SSTs and TCHPs...
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Quoting extreme236:


It appears the disturbance is practically gonna stall out over this area right near the coast?


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.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26682
Quoting Levi32:
The new 12z GFS is fairly aggressive with the short-term trough-split piece which is going to get caught in the NE gulf over the next couple days and fire showers and thunderstorms over the oil spill area. This is 96 hours:



168 hours:



GFS is STILL prediciting that convective low, held in place for a week by the BOC (ULL or surface low?) circulation from one of Alex's remnant layers, which has some model support from the CMC, HWRF, and ECWMF? And then it sends the storm over Southern Ontario? I do not like this at all.
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Quoting angiest:


Only the first four words were necessary. :)


I guess I must have signed up for English 213 a little sooner than I thought lol.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26682
Quoting gator23:

i dont think you know what spurious means.


Okay, I found out what spurious meant, means its origin is not legitimate. I admit I am not perfect. I thought it meant "random."

You can learn from this blog, from tropical weather to things like this LOL.

Back to the tropics, summary I can gather is: looks like Alex continues to weaken inland, ULL (long-time remnants of Invest 94L) heading W toward E Gulf of Mexico continuing to show no signs of convective development (and probably will never develop), and tropical waves train looks interesting, but nothing of immediate concern.
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Levi, thank you very much for bringing the word ''mischief'' into the blogs, ^_^.
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In 2005, TropicalStorm Arlene reached near-hurricane strength before passing near what is now the DeepHorizon spill to make landfall upon Florida's western tip on June11th.
Then barely HurricaneCindy weakened to a tropical storm before making landfall upon southeasternLouisiana somewhat close to what is now the spill area.
But HurricaneAlex made landfall upon ElHerradero,Mexico on 30June2010as as a strongCategory2.
In 2005, HurricaneDennis made landfall upon Florida's western tip as a strongCategory3 on July10th after passing somewhat near what is now the spill area.
Comparisons with the day when majorHurricaneDennis began spinning up on 4July2005

30June2010

4July2005

30June2010

4July2005

30June2010


"[BritishPetroleum]'s well in the Gulf of Mexico is gushing[...]from 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today [15June2010]..."
From which we can deduce*that:
The old pre-cut flow rate was between 29,166to50,000barrels per day.
The old pre-cut minimum spill rate was 29,166barrels per day.
The new post-cut minimum spill rate is 20,000barrels per day.
The ExxonValdez spilled 11million gallons.
At the old minimum spill rate (1,225,000gallons per day), DeepwaterHorizon had been spilling one ExxonValdez per 8days23hours30minutes37seconds.
By 7:18pm,4June2010, the DeepwaterHorizon had spilled a minimum of FIVE ExxonValdezes.
In the 12days4hours17minutes between 7:18pm,4June and 11:35pm,16June, the DeepwaterHorizon spill had increased to a minimum of SIX ExxonValdezes.
At the new minimum spill rate (840,000gallons per day), there will be one more ExxonValdez added to the spill every 13days2hours17minutes9seconds thereafter... though new burn and collection ships have arrived, which along with intermittent stoppages for repairs makes calculations difficult.

* For a fuller explanation of how I calculated those minimums, see blog1508post7.
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Quoting Levi32:
The new 12z GFS is fairly aggressive with the short-term trough-split piece which is going to get caught in the NE gulf over the next couple days and fire showers and thunderstorms over the oil spill area. This is 96 hours:



168 hours:



It appears the disturbance is practically gonna stall out over this area right near the coast?
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Quoting Levi32:


Don't use Internet Explorer....it has issues with this site and hates my blog in particular.


Only the first four words were necessary. :)
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Quoting BermudaHigh:
Excellent video, Levi! Very scary, yet, very educational at the same time. So, you are forseeing more trouble for next week, then?


Possibly. I'm outlining the areas of possible activity but we'll have to see if anything materializes.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26682
Link, Ex?
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The new 12z GFS is fairly aggressive with the short-term trough-split piece which is going to get caught in the NE gulf over the next couple days and fire showers and thunderstorms over the oil spill area. This is 96 hours:



168 hours:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26682
Quoting pcola57:
Here goes...Oz and Cromagnum Man have a spurious relationship..ie.."In statistics, a spurious relationship (or, sometimes, spurious correlation or spurious regression) is a mathematical relationship in which two occurrences have no causal connection, yet it may be inferred that they do, due to a certain third, unseen factor (referred to as a "confounding factor" or "lurking variable").Credit:Wiki-Dict... The spurious relationship gives Oz an excuse...Ok..First cup of coffee..O.o...Any breaks given to me at this time would be profoundly humane and my family tree would appreciate it

...(regresses back to lurking mode seeking sanity and pity...and 2nd cup of coffee..o.O..needing link for SAT for comfort...sigh)
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Levi,
your
blog
appears
on
my
computer
in
columns,
kind
of
like
this.
Do
you
know
how
to
fix
that?


Don't use Internet Explorer....it has issues with this site and hates my blog in particular.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26682
Quoting gator23:

i dont think you know what spurious means.


duh, its a roadway that has multiple spurs in it
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Quoting Kristina40:
If Josihua is in Matehuala he could very well be seeing some pretty awful flooding.


indeed, very muddy waters all around
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Quoting 954FtLCane:

Wasn't that the Caribbean?


Yep, Paloma was also quiet intense, and 2nd strongest November hurricane for the Atlantic on record. Thankfully, it was getting sheared apart rapidly by the time (as most November 'canes do) as it approached Cuba, and hit Cuba at Cat. 1 I believe.

Paloma's remnants also hung around Cuba, the E Gulf, for a while.
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12z NOGAPS up to 120 hours still shows a developing area of disturbed weather in the Caribbean around 96-120 hours. Also, it shows a very large area of disturbed weather with a tropical wave over the entire Antilles.
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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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