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 mtyweatherfan90:
Finally after a 6 hour internet absence, I can finally write here again. Monterrey is beyond recognition. Avenues and lanes of Highways have dissapeared as same as bridges. Houses are been swallowed by unimaginable streams that flow through streets. People are refuging at the ceiling of their houses due to the rise of ...water levels. EVERY SINGLE RIVER, CREEK AND OTHER WATER BODY HAS CRESTED. Nothing as this has ever happen before. Last time something similar happen was in the Great Flood of 1909, this might be a 100-year flood. Some spots nearing 850 mm already (34 in), raining very hard and also some gusty winds. None of the local meteorologists, nor local newscasters , or government authorities has experienced something as this before. 1 million people are at darkness as we speak. About 150,000 without water. Gilbert might be seen as a nice summer downpour compared to this.

Several deaths, damages are beyond imagination.


Very sorry to hear. Stay safe.
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1892. xcool
BYE ALL
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1891. xcool
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Quoting mtyweatherfan90:
Finally after a 6 hour internet absence, I can finally write here again. Monterrey is beyond recognition. Avenues and lanes of Highways have dissapeared as same as bridges. Houses are been swallowed by unimaginable streams that flow through streets. People are refuging at the ceiling of their houses due to the rise of ...water levels. EVERY SINGLE RIVER, CREEK AND OTHER WATER BODY HAS CRESTED. Nothing as this has ever happen before. Last time something similar happen was in the Great Flood of 1909, this might be a 100-year flood. Some spots nearing 850 mm already (34 in), raining very hard and also some gusty winds. None of the local meteorologists, nor local newscasters , or government authorities has experienced something as this before. 1 million people are at darkness as we speak. About 150,000 without water. Gilbert might be seen as a nice summer downpour compared to this.

Several deaths, damages are beyond imagination.


I am so sorry to hear this. I just don't even know what to say. This is terrible. :(
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1889. xcool
homelesswanderer ;)
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Quoting mtyweatherfan90:
Finally after a 6 hour internet absence, I can finally write here again. Monterrey is beyond recognition. Avenues and lanes of Highways have dissapeared as same as bridges. Houses are been swallowed by unimaginable streams that flow through streets. People are refuging at the ceiling of their houses due to the rise of ...water levels. EVERY SINGLE RIVER, CREEK AND OTHER WATER BODY HAS CRESTED. Nothing as this has ever happen before. Last time something similar happen was in the Great Flood of 1909, this might be a 100-year flood. Some spots nearing 850 mm already (34 in), raining very hard and also some gusty winds. None of the local meteorologists, nor local newscasters , or government authorities has experienced something as this before. 1 million people are at darkness as we speak. About 150,000 without water. Gilbert might be seen as a nice summer downpour compared to this.

Several deaths, damages are beyond imagination.


This is terrible, terrible news.
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Quoting xcool:



spin NOW



Wow! Sure looks that way.
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Quoting mtyweatherfan90:
Finally after a 6 hour internet absence, I can finally write here again. Monterrey is beyond recognition. Avenues and lanes of Highways have dissapeared as same as bridges. Houses are been swallowed by unimaginable streams that flow through streets. People are refuging at the ceiling of their houses due to the rise of ...water levels. EVERY SINGLE RIVER, CREEK AND OTHER WATER BODY HAS CRESTED. Nothing as this has ever happen before. Last time something similar happen was in the Great Flood of 1909, this might be a 100-year flood. Some spots nearing 850 mm already (34 in), raining very hard and also some gusty winds. None of the local meteorologists, nor local newscasters , or government authorities has experienced something as this before. 1 million people are at darkness as we speak. About 150,000 without water. Gilbert might be seen as a nice summer downpour compared to this.

Several deaths, damages are beyond imagination.


Not good. My thoughts are with those affected.
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Quoting mtyweatherfan90:
Finally after a 6 hour internet absence, I can finally write here again. Monterrey is beyond recognition. Avenues and lanes of Highways have dissapeared as same as bridges. Houses are been swallowed by unimaginable streams that flow through streets. People are refuging at the ceiling of their houses due to the rise of ...water levels. EVERY SINGLE RIVER, CREEK AND OTHER WATER BODY HAS CRESTED. Nothing as this has ever happen before. Last time something similar happen was in the Great Flood of 1909, this might be a 100-year flood. Some spots nearing 850 mm already (34 in), raining very hard and also some gusty winds. None of the local meteorologists, nor local newscasters , or government authorities has experienced something as this before. 1 million people are at darkness as we speak. About 150,000 without water. Gilbert might be seen as a nice summer downpour compared to this.

Several deaths, damages are beyond imagination.


I'm really sorry to hear that :(
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1884. xcool



spin NOW
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Finally after a 6 hour internet absence, I can finally write here again. Monterrey is beyond recognition. Avenues and lanes of Highways have dissapeared as same as bridges. Houses are been swallowed by unimaginable streams that flow through streets. People are refuging at the ceiling of their houses due to the rise of ...water levels. EVERY SINGLE RIVER, CREEK AND OTHER WATER BODY HAS CRESTED. Nothing as this has ever happen before. Last time something similar happen was in the Great Flood of 1909, this might be a 100-year flood. Some spots nearing 850 mm already (34 in), raining very hard and also some gusty winds. None of the local meteorologists, nor local newscasters , or government authorities has experienced something as this before. 1 million people are at darkness as we speak. About 150,000 without water. Gilbert might be seen as a nice summer downpour compared to this.

Several deaths, damages are beyond imagination.
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1882. xcool
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1881. xcool
LET SEE I NAIL JUNE Forecast
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Quoting btwntx08:
im here just that tropics not active and now isee there gonna be active again according to models we'll see


Yep. Here we go again.
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1879. xcool
btwntx08 yes sir
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Quoting xcool:
oh boy


no
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1876. xcool
EURO not really
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1875. xcool
very busy week here we go
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Quoting gator23:

which model to believe...


Yeah always take your pick. The EURO did nail Alex. But you never know. The CMC kinda out there. Lol. But anything's possible.
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Quoting xcool:
NO


Oh ok. Looks like it's going to be a crazy week coming up. Just when the GFS agreed with ECMWF at 240hrs the ECMWF rushes it to 120hrs instead. Lol.
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1872. gator23
Quoting homelesswanderer:


The EURO Link

which model to believe...
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1871. xcool
NO
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Quoting gator23:

what? I thouhg the models ere showing a Low near Florida


The EURO Link
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Quoting xcool:
TX SW LA


Oh brother. Thanks. :) Have you seen BT today? Wondering if he lost electricity.
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1868. xcool
1864. xcool 7:05 AM GMT on July 02, 2010
TX SW LA
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1867. gator23
Quoting xcool:
TX SW LA

what? I thouhg the models ere showing a Low near Florida
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1866. xcool
LOL
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Quoting xcool:
homelesswanderer hold up


Ok xcool. Hate waiting on EURO lol.
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1864. xcool
TX SW LA
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Quoting craigcraker:
Alex has given us a ton of rain up here in the high desert. I live in Odessa, Texas, and it has been raining non-stop all day and according to the NWS it is supposed to continue through Sunday.

I guess we can use it, but I'd rather it was my normal 95 out.

As far as the gulf being warmer than normal, I have a question: I had never been to the Gulf until last weekend when I went to Port Aransas. They said the water is 87 degrees - and it felt like it, kind of like taking a bath (very strange, by the way, used to the Pacific).

When you guys say the Gulf is warmer than normal as far as surface temps, does that mean normally it wouldn't have felt so warm to swimmers?

Sorry if that is a dumb question.


That's not a dumb question. I don't know the specifics but it is supposed to be warmer than normal. But I live on the upper TX coast and for years they have said how it's like bath water. I think it may be the deper water far from shore that may be a bove normal.
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1862. xcool
homelesswanderer hold up
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Alex has given us a ton of rain up here in the high desert. I live in Odessa, Texas, and it has been raining non-stop all day and according to the NWS it is supposed to continue through Sunday.

I guess we can use it, but I'd rather it was my normal 95 out.

As far as the gulf being warmer than normal, I have a question: I had never been to the Gulf until last weekend when I went to Port Aransas. They said the water is 87 degrees - and it felt like it, kind of like taking a bath (very strange, by the way, used to the Pacific).

When you guys say the Gulf is warmer than normal as far as surface temps, does that mean normally it wouldn't have felt so warm to swimmers?

Sorry if that is a dumb question.
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Quoting xcool:
oh boy


Texas again? Can't really tell.
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1859. xcool
oh boy
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Quoting Levi32:
LOL!

0z Canadian Loop if you want to see our little low trace Florida! Too funny....sorry guys. That is the funniest model run I've seen in a long time. Imagine if JFV saw that lol.


Glad you're laughing, Levi. That thing just ran over me twice! LOL!!
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1857. xcool
wow 144hr
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1856. xcool
yeah
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Things happening a lot faster now EURO 120 in Boc
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1854. xcool
add ECMWF now
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1853. xcool


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Quoting Levi32:
I gotta go, goodnight all.


Night Levi. :)
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Quoting Levi32:


In his image the white and purple blob in the NE Gulf of Mexico represents an area of high 850mb vorticity (spin) which indicates a surface low. My following UKMET image showed the same thing but on the surface map which you are more familiar with seeing.


OOOO I actually see it now. Thanks. :) What is the MRF GFS?
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1850. Levi32
I gotta go, goodnight all.
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1849. Levi32
Quoting CybrTeddy:
So Levi what do you think the chances are of something springing up? We have quite good model support atm, consistent throughout the day yesterday too.


I think we have a good chance of seeing some sort of warm-core low develop, on the tail of the front, but we have to see if it will find a favorable upper-level environment to allow development. Potentially little time over water if it moves back north into the coast could also limit development. As with all systems, I can't make a call on whether or not I think it will develop until I see what it wants to do over the water.
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1848. xcool
yay work now
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1847. xcool
beep
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So Levi what do you think the chances are of something springing up? We have quite good model support atm, consistent throughout the day yesterday too.
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1845. Levi32
Quoting homelesswanderer:


Wow can't tell what that showed. But in the upper right corner kinda looks like the SCREAM mask. Lol.


In his image the white and purple blob in the NE Gulf of Mexico represents an area of high 850mb vorticity (spin) which indicates a surface low. My following UKMET image showed the same thing but on the surface map which you are more familiar with seeing.
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UKMET, CMC, GFS and the NAM develop a GOMEX system.

ECMWF and NOGAPS develop a Caribbean system.

An interesting set up we have going on here. Every model develops some sort of system.
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1843. xcool
bullsh
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.