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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2043. atmoaggie
3:39 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting WxLogic:
Good morning...

Appears one of the areas discussed yesterday AM is attracting some attention.

Yesterday? Been tracking that in the models for about 4 days...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
2042. wunderkidcayman
1:40 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
WOW I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS WE HAVE 95L

AL, 95, 2010070212, , BEST, 0, 300N, 840W, 20, 1015, LO,
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12157
2041. guygee
1:13 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting StormW:


Well, in this case, 95L is associated with the tail end of the front.
So a possible trough split is in progress but not complete yet until the front gets bridged and the digging vorticity is left behind, then that is the split?
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3171
2040. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:04 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
DOCS GOT A NEW BLOG UP
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54398
2039. nrtiwlnvragn
1:03 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
...INITIAL CONDITIONS...
LATCUR = 30.0N LONCUR = 84.0W DIRCUR = 240DEG SPDCUR = 4KT
LATM12 = 30.4N LONM12 = 83.3W DIRM12 = 237DEG SPDM12 = 4KT
LATM24 = 31.0N LONM24 = 82.2W
WNDCUR = 20KT RMAXWD = 15NM WNDM12 = 20KT
CENPRS = 1015MB OUTPRS = 1018MB OUTRAD = 150NM SDEPTH = D
RD34NE = 0NM RD34SE = 0NM RD34SW = 0NM RD34NW = 0NM
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11215
2037. IKE
1:02 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting cg2916:
AL, 95, 2010070206, , BEST, 0, 302N, 836W, 20, 1009, LO

AL, 95, 2010070212, , BEST, 0, 300N, 840W, 20, 1015, LO,


Moving WSW. Latest location is about 120 miles ESE of me.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
2035. nrtiwlnvragn
12:58 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
AL 95 SHIPS Text indicates no development. Hope it is correct.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11215
2034. PensacolaDoug
12:57 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting SeALWx:


That trof isn't gonna do too much more pushing. It's already starting to stall and will start lifting soon.


Thanx!
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 571
2033. beeleeva
12:57 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Approaching 2 in of rain here in Katy.....we needed it,,but ,,
Member Since: July 22, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 85
2032. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
12:56 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
2010 Storms
All Active Year


Atlantic
95L.INVEST

East Pacific
01L.ALEX

Central Pacific

West Pacific
92W.INVEST

Indian Ocean

Southern Hemisphere
92S.INVEST
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54398
2031. WxLogic
12:56 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting IKE:


I see it on visible.


Very interesting how ingredients come together. The way I see it now is a watch and wait for model consensus for the likely development path of 95L.

Got to say that GFS hasn't being doing bad so far.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 4977
2030. guygee
12:55 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting StormW:


A trof split occurs almost in the same process as a cutoff low...the trof will deepen so sharply to such a point that, instead of a cutoff, or closed low developing out of it...the trof will "split", generally with one portion of energy traveling in a southward fashion, and the other, generally, per se, east or NE.
That is a very clear explanation, thank you for that StormW. So it is more than just the tail of the trough left behind, it is actually a trough splitting. Trough-split! LOL, sometimes the common-sense things are just out of my grasp. I appreciate your explanation, that's why I love this blog when it is at its best.
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3171
2029. SeALWx
12:55 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
Seems like any thing that tries to spin-up would get trashed by the trough that pushung thru.. Wouldn't it?


That trof isn't gonna do too much more pushing. It's already starting to stall and will start lifting soon.
Member Since: April 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 196
2028. cg2916
12:54 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
AL, 95, 2010070206, , BEST, 0, 302N, 836W, 20, 1009, LO

AL, 95, 2010070212, , BEST, 0, 300N, 840W, 20, 1015, LO,
Member Since: December 21, 2007 Posts: 13 Comments: 3046
2027. nrtiwlnvragn
12:54 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11215
2026. cg2916
12:54 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
invest_al952010.invest
Member Since: December 21, 2007 Posts: 13 Comments: 3046
2025. Kristina40
12:53 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Not here Jeff. We still have a high surf advisory in effect until this morning. I haven't checked to see if they renewed it or not.
Member Since: June 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 760
2024. Kristina40
12:52 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Last night the lowest pressure readings were onshore about 40 miles. This morning I'm finding it offshore, that's not a good sign, is it?
Member Since: June 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 760
2021. stormwatcherCI
12:49 PM GMT on July 02, 2010


Looks like all of the areas spoken about on here have been highlighted.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8392
2020. IKE
12:49 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting WxLogic:
You can see the low starting to take shape:



Upper Divergence is pretty decent at the moment:



Low Level Convergence has been relocating and persisting over the extreme NE GULF for the past 9hrs:



Given the current shear over the disturbance, I give also a 10% change of acquiring tropical characteristics, but will sure be an hybrid type system for the time being.


I see it on visible.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
2019. PensacolaDoug
12:48 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Seems like any thing that tries to spin-up would get trashed by the trough that pushung thru.. Wouldn't it?
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 571
2018. nrtiwlnvragn
12:48 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
AL 95 GHCC Loop
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11215
2017. Kristina40
12:48 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
I'm using that really cool mapping tool Levi gave us last night and I see a reading just offshore east of Appalach at 1015 now. Pressure dropping.
Member Since: June 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 760
2016. TopDuji
12:48 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Yes, we have an Invest. Invest 95. Moving west along the Gulf Coast.
2015. nrtiwlnvragn
12:47 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting aquak9:
wait a minute? do we have an invest??!


Yes, AL 95. Thought they would be quick to pull the trigger due to BP's oil gusher.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11215
2014. surfsidesindy
12:47 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting Kristina40:
Over the past 3 days we've gotten about 5 inches from it. You can have all ya like, we're water logged here.


I would usually moan about that, but I'll take it, and having gone through Faye, 5" sounds manageable!
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 287
2013. TXnovice
12:47 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
I'm in the Houston area. We have had a ton of rain in the last 2 days. Tropical systems need to stay away, we're saturated over here! We were dry, but we didn't need this much rain!
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 80
2012. WxLogic
12:47 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
You can see the low starting to take shape:



Upper Divergence is pretty decent at the moment:



Low Level Convergence has been relocating and persisting over the extreme NE GULF for the past 9hrs:



Given the current shear over the disturbance, I give also a 10% change of acquiring tropical characteristics, but will sure be an hybrid type system for the time being.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 4977
2011. aquak9
12:47 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting surfsidesindy:


Fingers crossed...it has been so dry here it is crazy. Whenever we go this long without rain it is always something tropical that wants to bring it back all at once to make up for it!


it's called "Rain with a Name"
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 168 Comments: 26066
2009. aquak9
12:45 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
wait a minute? do we have an invest??!
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 168 Comments: 26066
2007. surfsidesindy
12:44 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:


It should get it today infact some areas could get 3 to 5" today.


Fingers crossed...it has been so dry here it is crazy. Whenever we go this long without rain it is always something tropical that wants to bring it back all at once to make up for it!
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 287
2005. guygee
12:43 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting DestinJeff:


I think that is basically it. A trof lifts out like normal, but the tail end gets "split" from the normal flow and is left behind ... stuck to cause some "mischief" in some cases
Thanks DestinJeff! That makes sense now with regards to the NE Gulf low.

BTW, we got our first heavy shower in over two weeks late last night out here on the Space Coast south of Patrick AFB as the surface winds veered a little more south. I know other people farther inland are getting plenty of rain nearby, but we were really parched in our small area near me. We could use more rain, too.
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3171
2002. Kristina40
12:43 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Over the past 3 days we've gotten about 5 inches from it. You can have all ya like, we're water logged here.
Member Since: June 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 760
1999. WxLogic
12:40 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
AL 95 2010070212 BEST 0 300N 840W 20 1015 LO


Interesting... the Tropics is on fire.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 4977
1997. Kristina40
12:40 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Yeah p451, that's the one. See, if I had found this site before then, I would have not been so surprised that morning...
Member Since: June 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 760
1996. surfsidesindy
12:40 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:


If your coming to C FL P it is very wet. It has been raining here since 5:30pm yesterday.


Please blow it over here to the East Coast of FL! It hasn't rained here since June 9th...
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 287
1994. rossclick
12:38 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Quoting DestinJeff:


by that vort, it looks like the split occurred more over Fl, and not so much over the NE Gulf
Member Since: May 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 111
1993. Kristina40
12:38 PM GMT on July 02, 2010
Thanks aqua, I couldn't remember her name. I think it was actually Claudette? Didn't cause much mischief, mostly rain and some wind. I guess it was early in the season with a C name...
Member Since: June 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 760

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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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