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 Orcasystems:


Long range... CMC beats them all.


Based on a sample size of..... 1

"For the first time in 2009, an interpolated version of the Environment Canada global model (CMCI) was available to the forecasters; the model was competitive with the other dynamical guidance, and performed well at the longer lead times, albeit for a very small sample."

Link
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 15 Comments: 11343
Of course, 1966's Alma weakened from a Cat 3 to a Cat 2 many hours before it hit land (and then to a Cat 1 right before doing so). Alex, OTOH, was obviously intensifying, and--had mainland Mexico not intervened--had nothing to stop him from reaching Alma's Cat 3 max...or even Audrey's Cat 4.

It's been said before: this is gonna be one heck of a year...
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91. IKE
WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY...

ALL WATCHES AND WARNINGS HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

NONE.



SUMMARY OF 1000 AM CDT...1500 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...23.1N 100.3W
ABOUT 165 MI...265 KM WSW OF LA PESCA MEXICO
ABOUT 150 MI...245 KM E OF ZACATECAS MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...50 MPH...85 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 260 DEGREES AT 13 MPH...20 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...985 MB...29.09 INCHES

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Weren't people snarking about him making it to the GOC yesterday? Apparently he took it to heart and is angry today.
Member Since: June 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 760
Quoting SavannahStorm:
Can Alex make it to the Gulf of Califronia?? LOL


.."He is Going to California with a weekend,,In his heart"..

Shucks hes Half way to the GOC
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Joshihua, are you from Trinidad or Mexico? If so where?


i`m for mexico, matehuala currently. i visited trinidad on tour last year and caught some awesome tornadoes
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Some support for a NE GOM area of lower pressure from the 00Z ECMWF Ensemble Mean





Link
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 15 Comments: 11343
Quoting Patrap:
Can Alex make it to the Gulf of Califronia?? LOL
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Quoting bjdsrq:
Any comments comparing the last CMC and GFS model runs?

http://moe.met.fsu.edu/tcgengifs/

Notice the spurious (yes spurious is really the best word to use) lows popping up in the northern gulf and even off SE FL in both models? I don't trust the specific location of these forecasted lows, but this could mean conditions are going to favor possible pop up TD close to the coast over the next week or so. Probably from remnant tail of trough to the north.


Long range... CMC beats them all.
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Quoting Crawls:


It sure does look that way. Maybe StormW can shed some light on it. I have never seen anything like that so far inland!


The best I can explain it is that he is so large it took Alex a long time to organize- it'll take him a long time to wind down, too.
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Quoting twhcracker:


not saying he is real or not. but just saying people kept asking me that on facebook nite before last when i was asking if anyone local knew when the power might be coming back on. But i was on my droid phone not the computer. so he oculd be on a cell phone. or he could be a big goofer.


Joshihua, are you from Trinidad or Mexico? If so where?
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Any comments comparing the last CMC and GFS model runs?

http://moe.met.fsu.edu/tcgengifs/

Notice the spurious (yes spurious is really the best word to use) lows popping up in the northern gulf and even off SE FL in both models? I don't trust the specific location of these forecasted lows, but this could mean conditions are going to favor possible pop up TD close to the coast over the next week or so. Probably from remnant tail of trough to the north.
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Quoting MrNatural:
It looks like another eye has form from this water vapor loop. Doesn't make sense to me. What am I seeing?

Link


Hmm, I think it's gathering water still from both the Gulf and the Pacific. It's just close to approaching the higher mountains so maybe orographic lift is playing a role. Really reminds me of Fay, huge flooding threat.
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Quoting MrNatural:
It looks like another eye has form from this water vapor loop. Doesn't make sense to me. What am I seeing?

Link



Wow! That looks like an eye to me.
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And the blog slows to a crawl...... Until the next tiny cloud develops in the Caribbean or the GOM and then it game on again.

Nice to see most Trolls have went back into their caves for the time being. LOL
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Happy Canada Day to you too, eh?


;)
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Wow! I'll try to look for news links to update the Wikipedia article.


Where does that river empty? Does all that water flow to the Rio Grande and thence to the Gulf or directly into the Gulf? Either way, that's going to somebody who doesn't need it (in addition to the people dealing with the river right now.)
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Quoting Orcasystems:
BTW, for those of us on the Blog...
Happy Canada Day :)


Happy Canada Day to you too, eh?
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Quoting huber:
Where do you find the long range storm formation model forecasts? ie NOGAPS


Link
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 15 Comments: 11343
Quoting MrNatural:
It looks like another eye has form from this water vapor loop. Doesn't make sense to me. What am I seeing?

Link


It sure does look that way. Maybe StormW can shed some light on it. I have never seen anything like that so far inland!
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Correct, and it is still done to comply with WMO requirements because many countries are still using those old systems.


Ahh, I hadn't thought of that. I thought it was just bureaucratic inertia.
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Where do you find the long range storm formation model forecasts? ie NOGAPS
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Quoting mtyweatherfan90:
Thanks for the update Doc!

Santa Catarina River has destroyed football fields, golf courses, parking lots, a trail park and recently and sadly one of Monterrey's most symbolic figures. A iron made Guadalupe Virgin that was blessed by Pope John Paul II.

Aged reporters of local media claim that they have never seen something similar as what is happening right now in Monterrey.

Santa Catarina River, the stream is getting higher and might reach downtown :(













Wow! I'll try to look for news links to update the Wikipedia article.
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Quoting wfyweather:


Then hows your power on.


not saying he is real or not. but just saying people kept asking me that on facebook nite before last when i was asking if anyone local knew when the power might be coming back on. But i was on my droid phone not the computer. so he oculd be on a cell phone. or he could be a big goofer.
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It looks like another eye has form from this water vapor loop. Doesn't make sense to me. What am I seeing?

Link
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BTW, for those of us on the Blog...
Happy Canada Day :)
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Quoting Dakster:


Just what we need. A new rule book.... What was wrong with the old one for the past 100 years?


It didn't include a warming planet and rising oceanic heat content.
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There was some debate on the blog last night as to whether Alex could be considered a Cape Verde storm. So I sent an email off to the expert, Max Mayfield:

I would say no. To me, a Cape Verde storm or hurricane has to become a storm or hurricane over the eastern Atlantic closer to the Cape Verde Islands. Not many of them actually form real close to the islands but the idea is that they at least originate over the eastern Atlantic. Many of the storms/hurricanes that form in the western Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico have origins from tropical waves but I don't think anyone would refer to them as Cape Verde storms.

Regards,
Max
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Quoting alaina1085:
Thanks doc,very interesting storm indeed!

Yall think this is an omen for the rest of the season? lol.


Yes, I'm afraid
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Quoting angiest:


I have this feeling that that goes back to the days when these things were done on teletypes that only did upper case.

Read this little info on the old Emergency Broadcast System for teletypes that were used to transmit news items and severe weather alerts to radio stations. Link

The whole site is rather fascinating.


Correct, and it is still done to comply with WMO requirements because many countries are still using those old systems.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 15 Comments: 11343
Sounds like you need to move.

Quoting Josihua2:


no i`m serious i`m not even sure how long my house can withstand this.
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Quoting mtyweatherfan90:
Thanks for the update Doc!

Santa Catarina River has destroyed football fields, golf courses, parking lots, a trail park and recently and sadly one of Monterrey's most symbolic figures. A iron made Guadalupe Virgin that was blessed by Pope John Paul II.

Aged reporters of local media claim that they have never seen something similar as what is happening right now in Monterrey.

Santa Catarina River, the stream is getting higher and might reach downtown :(













Wow, that looks like a big flood to me.
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Thanks for the update Doc!

Santa Catarina River has destroyed football fields, golf courses, parking lots, a trail park and recently and sadly one of Monterrey's most symbolic figures. A iron made Guadalupe Virgin that was blessed by Pope John Paul II.

Aged reporters of local media claim that they have never seen something similar as what is happening right now in Monterrey.

Santa Catarina River, the stream is getting higher and might reach downtown :(











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Quoting Josihua2:


no i`m serious i`m not even sure how long my house can withstand this.


I am glad your internet is still working.
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Quoting Josihua2:


no i`m serious i`m not even sure how long my house can withstand this.


What a load of BS.
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49. Orcasystems 8:04 AM PDT on July 01, 2010
Quoting NRAamy:
Any word on Oz? Is he still alive? All extremities still attached?


He appears to have cheated the Darwin awards.. again




hahahahahahahahahaha! Good for Oz!

:)
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The wave coming off of africa has good vorticity and notable turning.
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Quoting NRAamy:
Any word on Oz? Is he still alive? All extremities still attached?


He appears to have cheated the Darwin awards.. again.
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Quoting NRAamy:
39. Josihua2 8:01 AM PDT on July 01, 2010
man the storm is really hitting us hard..... within the last 6 hours i`ve seen 4 people (assumed dead) float by my house and one man floating away on his bed frantically waving for help. i wish i could of done something but i am scared for my life.


I really hope this post is not a goof, 'cause that would so not be cool, man....


no i`m serious i`m not even sure how long my house can withstand this.
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Great read on the EWRC doc....very interesting indeed.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


NWS policy that hopefully one day will change.


I have this feeling that that goes back to the days when these things were done on teletypes that only did upper case.

Read this little info on the old Emergency Broadcast System for teletypes that were used to transmit news items and severe weather alerts to radio stations. Link

The whole site is rather fascinating.
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Quoting Josihua2:
man the storm is really hitting us hard..... within the last 6 hours i`ve seen 4 people (assumed dead) float by my house and one man floating away on his bed frantically waving for help. i wish i could of done something but i am scared for my life.


Then hows your power on.
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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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