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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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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1691. xcool
Levi32 YEP/
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1690. Levi32
Quoting xcool:




That looks more like a low near the big bend area of Florida than up in Georgia on that map.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
1689. xcool


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1688. Levi32
What's weird is to have a 1018mb surface low labeled in Georgia with a maybe 0.3mb pressure gradient between the surrounding weather stations, and granted there is cyclonic wind turning, but low-level vorticity is far less than what is east of Tallahassee, and that has had a 0.5-1.5mb pressure gradient between surrounding stations all day with cyclonic wind turning around it in the surface obs, and yet it is not labeled a low?

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
1687. xcool


IKNOW OLD
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1685. DehSoBe
Thanks for responding. i thought maybe i was invisible. Where can i find the model runs for this area of low presure? and what do you think about these odds?
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1684. Drakoen
Quoting atmosweather:


It says mid-level spin center to the east, which vorticity analysis has shown us all day...the surface low is in south central GA IMO and it's extremely ill-defined.


Yup
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Quoting superweatherman:


Does anyone remember this storm last year... I was telling Weather456 that it was going to developed but he said that condition where not favorable.... with in 48 hrs it went from a tropical wave to a name storm at 60mph


Claudette
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5315
I'm tired....Yawn.....Night all.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Hmmm, this doesn't say "surface low to the east" almost, though.



It says mid-level spin center to the east, which vorticity analysis has shown us all day...the surface low is in south central GA IMO and it's extremely ill-defined.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
NAM 00z at 84 hours still developing the tropical wave by 60˚W into a pretty decent cyclone. It also develops a system south of Louisiana, but is considerably weaker than the last run.

NAM 00z 84 hours.

That's not a good position re oil slick...unless it is very weak...
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AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
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i still think that ull over cuba bears watching gnight all thanks for the laughs
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1676. DehSoBe
What?? I don't think so
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Things were going so fast&furious, atmoaggie, that I may have accidentally skipped a page or more flipping between reading the latest comments and going back to read pages that I hadn't caught when they were first posted.
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Quoting DehSoBe:
Is there a specific area that we are watching for possible delvelopment?
Yes. An area of low pressure over the Florida panhandle.
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Quoting tkeith:
follow the oil...

sad but true :/
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NAM 00z at 84 hours still developing the tropical wave by 60˚W into a pretty decent cyclone. It also develops a system south of Louisiana, but is considerably weaker than the last run.

NAM 00z 84 hours.

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1671. tkeith
Quoting DehSoBe:
Is there a specific area that we are watching for possible delvelopment?
follow the oil...
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Quoting DestinJeff:
he will return as SpuriousLow


Oh god I just sprayed my screen with coca cola! Thanks Jeff. I would pay some good money to see that happening.
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Quoting superweatherman:


Does anyone remember this storm last year... I was telling Weather456 that it was going to developed but he said that condition where not favorable.... with in 48 hrs it went from a tropical wave to a name storm at 60mph
Claudette. Found a little hole in the shear...
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1668. DehSoBe
Is there a specific area that we are watching for possible delvelopment?
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Quoting Levi32:
GFS ensembles show a large area of lower than normal heights across the Gulf of Mexico and Florida area in 7 days. This represents the trough-split that is about to occur in that region, and the GFS shows enhanced precipitation under this pattern in association with the stalled front. When you get a stalled front to sit over the Gulf of Mexico for several days with a trough-split over the top in the mid-levels, that's a recipe for mischief.



Looks like we aren't going to be "investless" for too long.
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Whoa btwntx08 glad you're ok hope your family is good too!
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Quoting aspectre:
I hope you've seen this, but since I haven't seen a response...
atmoaggie, here's half of what you were looking for inre water column mixing
in the photic and disphotic levels (upper 200metres/656feet) of the neritic zone.
Yes, I saw your post the other day. (and read up on it) Thanks for the diligence, though.
;-)

(I think I responded, but, maybe not)
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Quoting btwntx08:

yea of course..i had a close call with a tornado which was about a 1/2 mi away since it was close i had the strongest winds all day and which they gust from 60-65 gusts after that i lost power for 6 hrs
Oh wow. Hope everything is going good.
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Bummer bermudahigh is gone and here I was going to ask him if he's the one with another username that's stalking me in PM.
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1660. tkeith
I'm gonna be honest it amuses me quite a bit, just not when important things are going on

whatever else about the (blogger w/3 initials), you have to admire his persistance.

better?
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Hmmm, this doesn't say "surface low to the east" almost, though.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I hope you've seen this, but since I haven't seen a response...
atmoaggie, here's half of what you were looking for inre water column mixing
in the photic and disphotic levels (upper 200metres/656feet) of the neritic zone.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1656. Levi32
GFS ensembles show a large area of lower than normal heights across the Gulf of Mexico and Florida area in 7 days. This represents the trough-split that is about to occur in that region, and the GFS shows enhanced precipitation under this pattern in association with the stalled front. When you get a stalled front to sit over the Gulf of Mexico for several days with a trough-split over the top in the mid-levels, that's a recipe for mischief.



Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
Quoting TampaSpin:


I seen that......WOW! Was you the car following?
No, LA State Trooper dash cam. We dropped at the MS/LA line where the LST's picked them up to take them to the Huey P. Long Bridge. They are too long for us to take. They are 150' long and 210K LBS.
Member Since: February 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1125
Quoting Levi32:


Hmm well they stuck that one up in Georgia...there's another one on HPC analysis near the NW panhandle but not where I would have put it.

It looks like they put it to correspond to where the strongest 850mb vorticity is located.

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1653. xcool
I JUST EMAIL MY FRIEND .Professional-Met
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1652. Becca36
Just coming out of lurking to say good evening. You all are cracking me up!
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1651. Levi32
Quoting atmosweather:


Nothing will ever beat "IT'S WRITTEN IN STONE" in my mind...LMAO


Same here LOL.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
YOu all really need to go to my Blog and follow the link to see how the BOP is leaning now....don't know if the storm and the pressure of the Up and down from the above has caused the BOP to lean more....but it is....OMG!
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Quoting extreme236:
I hate to say it, but I think JFV has outdone the STORMTOP/STROMTOP/stormkat/debbykat/hurrikat series.


Nothing will ever beat "IT'S WRITTEN IN STONE" in my mind...LMAO
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Does anyone remember this storm last year... I was telling Weather456 that it was going to developed but he said that condition where not favorable.... with in 48 hrs it went from a tropical wave to a name storm at 60mph
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1647. Levi32
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Oh Levi. The NHC labeled the low over by the Panhandle on the 00z surface analysis, they take it towards the east and into the Atlantic though.



Hmm well they stuck that one up in Georgia...there's another one on HPC analysis near the NW panhandle but not where I would have put it.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
Quoting btwntx08:
finally i can say this RIP alex
How did everything go with Alex? I'm guessing good since your blogging, hahaha.
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1644. tkeith
Quoting msgambler:
Did ya see it. Was that cool or what?
Yeah, there is an empty spot on the last span on the dry side of the levee :)
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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.