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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1843. xcool
bullsh
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Quoting CoffinWood:


Ah, you're right in the "sweet spot" for this season's show! Fortunately, I'm safer inland in Austin.


Yeah. Be nice if Mother Nature forgets my address until December. Lol. Hope we don't get any slow moving soakers over your area too.
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1841. xcool


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1840. xcool
one website not work wt---Plymouth not update .& Professional he no update yep
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


In SE TX right on LA border. Where are you from? Oh and thanks. :)


Ah, you're right in the "sweet spot" for this season's show! Fortunately, I'm safer inland in Austin.
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Quoting xcool:
i just posting lol


Wow can't tell what that showed. But in the upper right corner kinda looks like the SCREAM mask. Lol.
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1837. xcool
Levi32 i do.
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1836. Levi32
Quoting xcool:
i just posting lol


I thought you had posted the 12z run but then remembered that the Plymouth time-stamps are messed up on the 0z runs.
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Quoting CoffinWood:


Thanks, I'll check it out. And keep my fingers crossed for you for no storm in 24! Where are you?


In SE TX right on LA border. Where are you from? Oh and thanks. :)
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1834. xcool
i just posting lol
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


You're welcome. Hope it helps. On that one link I find it easier to click on the 850vort from thee dropdown menu on the GFS or CMC. Waiting for the ECMWF to come out. Hopefully doesn't start out with a storm over me in24hrs. GFS trying to scare me to death. Lol.


Thanks, I'll check it out. And keep my fingers crossed for you for no storm in 24! Where are you?
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1832. Levi32
0z UKMET shows a low in the NE gulf as well.

60 hours:

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1831. xcool
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Quoting CoffinWood:


Thanks to both of you - I'm going to try to do as you suggest, use the in-motion one enough so that I can learn to get a feel for the still-version.


You're welcome. Hope it helps. On that one link I find it easier to click on the 850vort from thee dropdown menu on the GFS or CMC. Waiting for the ECMWF to come out. Hopefully doesn't start out with a storm over me in24hrs. GFS trying to scare me to death. Lol.
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1829. JLPR2
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.


:O That's nuts!
XD
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1828. xcool
nice
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


O ok. Yeah on that one I have to just get a still and see if I'm seeing what I'm seeing. Lol. That was almost confusing. :)


Thanks to both of you - I'm going to try to do as you suggest, use the in-motion one enough so that I can learn to get a feel for the still-version.
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Quoting Levi32:


He's talking about the bottom link, the one that's posted the most in here. Not much one can do about those light lines I guess except use one of the other sites, such as the top link you posted.


O ok. Yeah on that one I have to just get a still and see if I'm seeing what I'm seeing. Lol. That was almost confusing. :)
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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.

Oh, for heaven's sake.
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1824. xcool
homelesswanderer yeah
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Quoting xcool:
lmao cmc


FAYE??? Lol.
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1822. Levi32
Quoting homelesswanderer:


There are no stupid questions. I don't have a model with light brown on it. But I do have problems seeing the white and gree ones. Have to click on those to make it bigger,

Are you using either of these?
Link

Link


He's talking about the bottom link, the one that's posted the most in here. Not much one can do about those light lines I guess except use one of the other sites, such as the top link you posted.
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Levi, bud sir pal friend should I start boarding up and run for Michigan?
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24263
1820. xcool
ha
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1819. Levi32
Quoting KoritheMan:


456, what are yur prostications fer this potental event, my freind?


Lol. Goodness. Those Canadians like to tease us don't they.
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1818. xcool
cmc out door
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1817. Levi32
I mean, the thing even takes the pains to come off and then go west to get to the left of Apalachicola before starting to trace! LOL.
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Quoting CoffinWood:


Okay, I have really, really stupid question: Every time I look at the GFS output, it takes me forever to figure out where the landmasses in light brown are, so I have to study it first just to figure out what area is being displayed. Am I missing something? Is there some kind of shortcut to visualizing this, or do you all have the same problem?


There are no stupid questions. I don't have a model with light brown on it. But I do have problems seeing the white and gree ones. Have to click on those to make it bigger,

Are you using either of these?
Link

Link
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1815. Levi32
Quoting 1fromnovasscotia:
wow was alex alot of disscussion, u guys put alot of work into that storm thank u all for the sharing your graphics. May i ask are most of you guys weather enthusiast's or trainning in the field of meteorology cause u all got a A in my book, i know there some storm chaser guys out there thanks for the web site i signed on,lol there's a job that will cure depression. My main question for u all is it just me or is the gulf of mexico's water temps higher than normal for this time of year now i know that there is the warm eddy off the coast of texas but overall the whole gulf seems really warm, lol the atlantic for that matter.I am so glad that my prediction last sunday of alex making landfall as at least a cat 3, i was wrong but not by much, it did get to what 950mb or 948mb pressure gradiant and completed his 2nd eyewall replacement cycle. He only would have needed 1 more day or less in that gulf water and i am certain some rapid intensification would have kicked in. well i hope the main thing for all those affected by Alex made it through ok for the most part, u can email me at mikeyje99@hotmail.p.s. i think this is going to be a very long season.


Yes the Gulf of Mexico is well above normal.

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1814. xcool
lmao cmc
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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.


Oh Jesus.. ROFL.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24263
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.


456, what are yur prostications fer this potental event, my freind?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
wow was alex alot of disscussion, u guys put alot of work into that storm thank u all for the sharing your graphics. May i ask are most of you guys weather enthusiast's or trainning in the field of meteorology cause u all got a A in my book, i know there some storm chaser guys out there thanks for the web site i signed on,lol there's a job that will cure depression. My main question for u all is it just me or is the gulf of mexico's water temps higher than normal for this time of year now i know that there is the warm eddy off the coast of texas but overall the whole gulf seems really warm, lol the atlantic for that matter.I am so glad that my prediction last sunday of alex making landfall as at least a cat 3, i was wrong but not by much, it did get to what 950mb or 948mb pressure gradiant and completed his 2nd eyewall replacement cycle. He only would have needed 1 more day or less in that gulf water and i am certain some rapid intensification would have kicked in. well i hope the main thing for all those affected by Alex made it through ok for the most part, u can email me at mikeyje99@hotmail.p.s. i think this is going to be a very long season.
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1810. 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.
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1809. xcool
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1808. Levi32
Quoting atmosweather:


The frontal boundary continues to lag southward and will stall out tomorrow...so the low currently in S GA/N FL will be over water by then. Nothing to worry about yet though since it's still embedded at the tail end of the front and will need at least 48 hours to organize any further due to the unfavorable atmospheric conditions.

I'm gonna head to bed...Levi I hope ya have a good evening, looking forward to reading your blog tomorrow. Night everyone.


Goodnight Rich. Glad to have you back. Have a good one.
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GFS, ECMWF, CMC, NOGAPS, NAM all predict a system forming. Likely we'll see some sort of low next week.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24263
Quoting Levi32:


Looks like a QPF feedback problem. I wouldn't worry about it. Some rain might continue for you guys but no Humberto is going to bomb off of Houston lol :)


Lol. Ok Thanks. No Humberto is good. Phew! :)
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1805. Levi32
Quoting CoffinWood:


Okay, I have really, really stupid question: Every time I look at the GFS output, it takes me forever to figure out where the landmasses in light brown are, so I have to study it first just to figure out what area is being displayed. Am I missing something? Is there some kind of shortcut to visualizing this, or do you all have the same problem?


I guess you kinda just have to look for it really hard. I automatically know all the borders on the model images so I don't have a problem.
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


yeah, what is that? Can't be....to fast.


The frontal boundary continues to lag southward and will stall out tomorrow...so the low currently in S GA/N FL will be over water by then. Nothing to worry about yet though since it's still embedded at the tail end of the front and will need at least 48 hours to organize any further due to the unfavorable atmospheric conditions.

I'm gonna head to bed...Levi I hope ya have a good evening, looking forward to reading your blog tomorrow. Night everyone.
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1803. Levi32
Quoting homelesswanderer:


Yeah but is the red blob over SE TX gonna be anything? didn't show any development I guess but comes off the gulf.


Looks like a QPF feedback problem. I wouldn't worry about it. Some rain might continue for you guys but no Humberto is going to bomb off of Houston lol :)
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Quoting extreme236:


Thats the GFS parallel, so it's the more accurate version, supposedly.


UGH!
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


That's even worse than with Alex when they didn't have GFS support. Wow. Gonna be a wild ride this year.


Thats the GFS parallel, so it's the more accurate version, supposedly.
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Quoting Levi32:


Unfortunately, the 0z GFS is joining the party, showing a tropical system in the southern Gulf of Mexico at the same time as this morning's ECMWF did.

240 hours:


Hey there everybody. Well, this whatever thingy projected to the GOM can just go back to wherever it came from because I don't know about you guys but I'm so tired after Alex that I can't even see straight. x)
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


yeah, what is that? Can't be....to fast.


I dunno. The locals were saying not a lot of rain tomorrow either. Somebody's wrong. Yikes!
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1798. xcool


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Quoting Levi32:


Unfortunately, the 0z GFS is joining the party, showing a tropical system in the southern Gulf of Mexico at the same time as this morning's ECMWF did.

240 hours:



That's even worse than with Alex when they didn't have GFS support. Wow. Gonna be a wild ride this year.
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Quoting homelesswanderer:
And WT jumpin jelly beans is That??? Shows it comin off the gulf by tomorrow night.





yeah, what is that? Can't be....to fast.
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Quoting Levi32:


Unfortunately, the 0z GFS is joining the party, showing a tropical system in the southern Gulf of Mexico at the same time as this morning's ECMWF did.

240 hours:



Okay, I have really, really stupid question: Every time I look at the GFS output, it takes me forever to figure out where the landmasses in light brown are, so I have to study it first just to figure out what area is being displayed. Am I missing something? Is there some kind of shortcut to visualizing this, or do you all have the same problem?
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Quoting Levi32:


Yuppp it will be over water tomorrow, but development, if any, should still be 2-3 days away.


Yeah but is the red blob over SE TX gonna be anything? didn't show any development I guess but comes off the gulf.
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2am TWO from the NHC was uneventful, as expected.
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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.