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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1743. Patrap
Gulf Of Mexico - Funktop Color Infrared Loop
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levi:based on surface obs,I think they have it in the right general area...
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Quoting mrsalagranny:
Oh ok thank you.And yes the area in the Carribbean does need to be monitored.


All over it.
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Quoting Patrap:

.."Dem BP Folks best get a Move on with dem Holes they drilling.

Ma nature has her Plan..

Send Tony Hayward Down to Venice,La. and out to the site

..maybe he can Have a PC with a TC.



I think BP has upset Mother Nature.
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Quoting Patrap:


.."Dem BP Folks best get a Move on with dem Holes they drilling.

Ma nature has her Plan..





Door is closing fast Patrap. Twave into SFL, ya know what that means.
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1738. Patrap

.."Dem BP Folks best get a Move on with dem Holes they drilling.

Ma nature has her Plan..

Send Tony Hayward Down to Venice,La. and out to the site

..maybe he can Have a PC with a TC.



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Oh ok thank you.And yes the area in the Carribbean does need to be monitored.
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Man the freaking heat.

Warmest June ever in Miami, Fort Lauderdale

West Palm was .1 degrees away from setting an all time record. This t-wave/trough sandwich is a welcome addition to the weekend.
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1734. Patrap
Gulf of Mexico Imagery





Gulf Of Mexico - Rainbow Loop
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Quoting xcool:
whatever develops will be slowslow


Agreed. A lot of shear still evident. That will take some time to subside.
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i think will be up too the H storm by the end of july
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Quoting mrsalagranny:
levi if this low does develop,what is the probable intensity it would be?


I'm not levi but I will say that the upper environment does not look all that great.I would say weak TS at worst. What I would pay closer attention to is the possible Caribbean system next week.
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levi if this low does develop,what is the probable intensity it would be?
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1729. xcool



Vorticity moving S
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1728. xcool
BEEP
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1727. xcool
whatever develops will be slowslow
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OUCHY!!!
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
Evening All.

I don't think I am the only one to say, Alex wore me out, lol.

Anyway

The doors to the deep tropics are opening up this weekend, first tropical wave into SFL. I hope all have REALLY prepared this year. Alex, as tiring as it was, may be a common sight this year. A lot of hype has built up over the years and rightly so. But, there is an enormous amount of heat build up across the entire Atlantic this year and when it comes, it's coming full gorilla.
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1724. Levi32
Just for curiosity sake....FIM global model shows a neat little low off of Alabama in 72 hours as well.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
Quoting atmosweather:


As Levi just mentioned...the fact that Alex took a generally WNW-erly track across the Yucatan and into the Bay of Campeche without a shortwave picking it up N-ward shows that La Nina has already had an effect. Usually June storms that form in the western Caribbean turn northward through the Gulf of Mexico towards the southeast U.S.



ok
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Quoting Levi32:


Certainly not...the flooding is terrible.



yup
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GFDL hinted at a weak something coming from the area south of west central Cuba.

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Quoting Tazmanian:



how strong is La Nina and dos it has some in too do with Alex going in too MX???


As Levi just mentioned...the fact that Alex took a generally WNW-erly track across the Yucatan and into the Bay of Campeche without a shortwave picking it up N-ward shows that La Nina has already had an effect. Usually June storms that form in the western Caribbean turn northward through the Gulf of Mexico towards the southeast U.S.
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1719. Levi32
Quoting Tazmanian:



but MX this had a A storm not too long a go i sure they did not need other one


Certainly not...the flooding is terrible.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
1718. JRRP
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
hey JRRP can you post the link to that wrf model thanks

Link
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1717. xcool


just update ...
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Quoting Levi32:


It's getting stronger....Nino 3.4 region is down to -0.41C in the weeklies. It has a lot to do with Alex getting into Mexico because it promotes all that ridging over the southern and eastern US, which forced Alex westward despite the normal June pattern that tends to recurve early storms.




but MX this had a A storm not too long a go i sure they did not need other one
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1715. Levi32
Quoting atmosweather:


It's not entirely clear...but I know from a meteorological standpoint the NHC and NWS use Northern Gulf Coast to mean anywhere along the LA, MS or AL coastline.


Ok that makes sense.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
1714. Levi32
Quoting Tazmanian:



how strong is La Nina and dos it has some in too do with Alex going in too MX???


It's getting stronger....Nino 3.4 region is down to -0.41C in the weeklies. It has a lot to do with Alex getting into Mexico because La Nina promotes all that ridging over the southern and eastern US, which forced Alex westward despite the normal June pattern that tends to recurve early storms.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
Quoting Levi32:


I thought she meant the difference between central and eastern. The entire thing is north gulf coast, except maybe south Texas and west coast of Florida which are considered west coast and east coast, respectively. I do hear central gulf coast used a lot to refer to LA, MS, etc.


It's not entirely clear...but I know from a meteorological standpoint the NHC and NWS use Northern Gulf Coast to mean anywhere along the LA, MS or AL coastline.
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Thank ypu Atmos.I see what the gfs models are showing and i hope and pray it just dissapates.Although ECMWF is not on board yet.Maybe not at all in agreeance with GFS.I will most definately watch this area.
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Quoting SevereHurricane:


Oz is fine. I watched him all yesterday. Apparently he made it home about an hour ago.


Good...I last I heard his vehicle broke down.
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Quoting Levi32:


That's a good point....they are not usually this quiet over there. That just goes to show how much heat is being taken out of the Pacific with the La Nina coming on, and instead getting focused in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.



how strong is La Nina and dos it has some in too do with Alex going in too MX???
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1709. Levi32
Quoting atmosweather:


Northern Gulf coast.


I thought she meant the difference between central and eastern. The entire thing is north gulf coast, except maybe south Texas and west coast of Florida which are considered west coast and east coast, respectively. I do hear central gulf coast used a lot to refer to LA, MS, etc.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
1708. xcool


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1707. Levi32
Quoting Tazmanian:
is june the 1st time evere the W pac has not been with out a name storm


That's a good point....they are not usually this quiet over there. That just goes to show how much heat is being taken out of the Pacific with the La Nina coming on, and instead getting focused in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
Quoting mrsalagranny:
This question may sound crazy,but i thought I should ask.Is alabama considered the Central Gulf Coast or the Northern Gulf Coast?


Northern Gulf coast.
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Quoting txsweetpea:
Did anyone ever find out how "Oz" faired last nite? Is he Ok?


Oz is fine. I watched him all yesterday. Apparently he made it home about an hour ago.
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1704. Patrap
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Thank you Levi.I wasnt sure.Lived here all my life,but never thought about it.
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is june the 1st time evere the W pac has not been with out a name storm
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1701. Levi32
Quoting atmosweather:


That's a ton of runs in a row showing that. NAM has started to catch on...Euro has not. I'm interested in seeing what the 00z Euro shows this time.


Yeah that's always a big fly in the ointment when you don't have the ECMWF backing you up.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
1700. Levi32
Quoting mrsalagranny:
This question may sound crazy,but i thought I should ask.Is alabama considered the Central Gulf Coast or the Northern Gulf Coast?


I believe central, but I'm not positive on that.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
Quoting Levi32:
0z GFS 48 hours still shows a weak low near the north gulf coast:



That's a ton of runs in a row showing that. NAM has started to catch on...Euro has not. I'm interested in seeing what the 00z Euro shows this time.
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1698. Levi32
Trough-split number 1 south of Alabama at 60 hours is already potent on the GFS.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
This question may sound crazy,but i thought I should ask.Is alabama considered the Central Gulf Coast or the Northern Gulf Coast?
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Everybody have a good night.
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Did anyone ever find out how "Oz" faired last nite? Is he Ok?
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1694. Levi32
0z GFS 48 hours still shows a weak low near the north gulf coast:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
Evening All.

I don't think I am the only one to say, Alex wore me out, lol.

Anyway

The doors to the deep tropics are opening up this weekend, first tropical wave into SFL. I hope all have REALLY prepared this year. Alex, as tiring as it was, may be a common sight this year. A lot of hype has built up over the years and rightly so. But, there is an enormous amount of heat build up across the entire Atlantic this year and when it comes, it's coming full gorilla.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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.