Tropical Storm Alex bears down on the Yucatan; extreme heat for Africa and Russia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 02:12 PM GMT del 26 Giugno 2010

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The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season of 2010 is here. Tropical Storm Alex formed last might from an African tropical wave that plowed through the Caribbean this week. Alex's formation location is a typical one for June tropical storms, and the formation date of June 25 is also a fairly typical date for the first storm of the season to form (we average about one June named storm every two years in the Atlantic.) Heavy rainfall will ramp up through the day in Honduras, Belize, and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, as Alex continues to intensify, and flooding from these heavy rains will be the main concern from Alex today and Sunday. Satellite loops show that Alex's heavy thunderstorm are growing in intensity and areal coverage at a respectable pace. There is an upper-level high pressure system a few hundred miles west of Alex, and the clockwise flow air around this high is bringing upper-level winds out of the northwest of about 10 knots over the storm, contributing to the 10 knots of wind shear observed in this morning's wind shear analysis from the University of Wisconsin's CIMSS group. Sea Surface Temperatures are very warm, 29 - 30°C, and dry air is not a problem for Alex. We currently don't have a Hurricane Hunter aircraft in the storm, so we will have to wait until 2pm this afternoon to get an updated estimate of Alex's surface winds. The latest satellite estimates of Alex's winds at 8am EDT put the storm's strongest winds at 40 mph.


Figure 1. Satellite image of the tropics at 9am EDT Saturday 6/26/10. Image credit: GOES Science Project.

Forecast for Alex
As I discussed in last night's post, an examination of the nineteen tropical cyclones that have formed in the Western Caribbean and hit the Yucatan Peninsula over the past twenty years reveals that 8 went on to make a second Gulf Coast landfall in Mexico, 5 hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, and 6 died after hitting the Yucatan. The ones that died all took a more southerly path across the Yucatan, spending more time over land than Alex will. Alex is large enough and moving far enough north across the Yucatan that passage over the peninsula will not kill it. So, will Alex follow the path climatology says is more likely, and make a second landfall along the Mexican Gulf Coast?


Figure 2. Forecast swath of tropical storm force winds (34 - 63 knots, green colors) and hurricane force winds (yellow and orange colors) as predicted by this morning's 2am EDT run of the HWRF model. Image credit: Morris Bender, NOAA GFDL team.

The key question remains how Alex will react to the trough of low pressure expected to swing down over the Eastern U.S. on Monday. Some of yesterday's model runs predicted that this trough would be strong enough to pull Alex northwards through the oil slick region into the northern Gulf of Mexico coast. However, the models that were predicting this (the GFS, GFDL, and HWRF models) are all backing off on that prediction. It now appears likely that Alex will cross the Yucatan, emerge into the Gulf of Mexico, then slow down as the trough to its north weakens the steering currents in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday. By Tuesday, the influence of the trough will wane, high pressure will build in, and Alex will resume a west-northwest, or possibly a due west or west-southwest motion, towards the Texas/Mexico border region. Based on the current trends in the models, Alex's tropical storm force winds are likely to stay well south of the oil slick region (Figure 2.) I put the odds of Alex bringing tropical storm-force winds to the oil slick region at 10%. The most significant impact Alex will likely have on the oil slick region is to bring 2 - 4 foot swells that may wash oil over some of the containment booms. These swells will reach the oil slick region on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Continued intensification of Alex is likely today, up until landfall. It is a good thing the storm waited until last night to get organized; had it formed a day earlier, it could have easily been a hurricane in the Western Caribbean today. Once Alex emerges back into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, it will likely take the storm at least 24 hours to get re-organized, particularly since the total ocean heat content is low for the 100-mile-wide stretch of water on the west side of the Yucatan Peninsula. Once Alex moves more than 100 miles from the Yucatan, total heat content of the ocean increases substantially, and Alex will have the opportunity to intensify significantly. Steering currents will be weak in the Gulf next week, and it appears that Alex will have time to intensify into a hurricane before making its second landfall along the South Texas/northern Mexico coast. Wind shear is expected to be light, and dry air not a significant impediment. Most of the models are calling for landfall on Wednesday, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this delayed until Thursday. I give Alex a 60% chance of becoming a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico next week.

Elsewhere in the tropics
A tropical wave (Invest 94L) is a few hundred miles northeast of the northernmost Lesser Antilles Islands. This wave is producing a modest amount of heavy thunderstorm activity, and is passing beneath a trough of low pressure that is generating 30 - 40 knots of wind shear, and is not a threat to develop today. However, by Monday, the storm will be in a region of much lower wind shear, and NHC is giving the storm a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Monday morning. None of the models currently develop 94L, but Bermuda should keep and eye on this system, as it will pass very close to the island on Tuesday.

Extreme heat wave in Africa and Asia continues to set all-time high temperature records
A withering heat wave of unprecedented intensity and areal covered continues to smash all-time high temperatures Asia and Africa. As I reported earlier this week, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Chad, Niger, Pakistan, and Myanmar have all set new records for their hottest temperatures of all time over the past six weeks. The remarkable heat continued over Africa and Asia late this week. The Asian portion of Russia recorded its highest temperate in history yesterday, when the mercury hit 42.3°C (108.1°F) at Belogorsk, near the Amur River border with China. The previous record was 41.7°C (107.1°F) at nearby Aksha on July 21, 2004. (The record for European Russia is 43.8°C--110.8°F--set on August 6, 1940, at Alexandrov Gaj near the border with Kazakhstan.) Also, on Thursday, Sudan recorded its hottest temperature in its history when the mercury rose to 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Dongola. The previous record was 49.5°C (121.1°F) set in July 1987 in Aba Hamed.

We've now had eight countries in Asia and Africa, plus the Asian portion of Russia, that have beaten their all-time hottest temperature record during the past two months. This includes Asia's hottest temperature of all-time, the astonishing 53.5°C (128.3°F) mark set on May 26 in Pakistan. All of these records are unofficial, and will need to be certified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). According to Chris Burt, author of Extreme Weather, the only year which can compare is 2003, when six countries (the UK, France, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein) all broke their all-time heat records during that year's notorious summer heat wave. Fortunately, the residents of the countries affected by this summer's heat wave in Asia and Africa are more adapted to extreme high temperatures, and we are not seeing the kind of death tolls experienced during the 2003 European heat wave (30,000 killed.) This week's heat wave in Africa and the Middle East is partially a consequence of the fact that Earth has now seen three straight months with its warmest temperatures on record, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. It will be interesting to see if the demise of El Niño in May will keep June from becoming the globe's fourth straight warmest month on record.

Wind and ocean current forecast for the BP oil disaster
East to southeast winds of 5 - 15 knots will blow in the northern Gulf of Mexico today through Wednesday, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. The resulting weak ocean currents should push the oil to the west and northwest onto portions of the Louisiana and Alabama coasts, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana. I would expect Mississippi to have its most serious threat of oil yet early next week as these winds continue. The long range outlook shows a continuation of east to southeast winds along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast.

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

Wunderground's severe weather expert Dr. Rob Carver will likely be posting at least one update on Alex this weekend. My next update will be Sunday morning.

Jeff Masters

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It just bothers me sometimes that no one ever sees a wobble away from the US or other land. The balance between people's observations on here that think the storm is deviating away from the NHC track to landfall compared to deviation away towards recurvature is ridiculous. Seems a lot of people on here think the trough will curve Alex towards the North Gulf Coast, but when some say the opposite they are viewed as a troll. When troughs come as storms approach the east coast many think the storm is going farther south and will miss the trough and make landfall. If they're your honest observations than so be it, I just really believe there is a lot of biased forecasting going on.
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I am not sure about the total westward movement.I thought that if the storm gain strength and became stronger it would go more north. The national hurricane center just said they expect Alex to become hurricane strength.
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Quoting reedzone:


Even a weak trough at least lifts the storm north, not recurving, but at least lifts the storm north. That's what I can see play out with Alex. Not this push it west.. I'm sorry, I just don't see it..
I dont understand why a hurricane and a trough wouldnt pull it more N either? I think we will know more after Alex gets passed the Yucatan.
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195. IKE
Quoting btwntx08:

at 9MPH lol that will take that until tonight


i.e.....tonight is shortly....within 10-12 hours it's onshore.
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Quoting StormW:


Here...this'll help...use the middle panels

steering forecast


I see the steering, but with the trough in the GOM, how can it not be affected?
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192. JRRP

GFS develops that wave over Africa
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That storm is no where near the oil rig, what's the big deal? Another over-hyped media blitz to send people into a frenzy. The only things that need to worry are the trees in mexico. fin.
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Quoting IKE:
Not that anyone cares...but...Man it is hot outside. I just got through vacuuming my car and mowing my front yard. I'm soaked in sweat!

Looks like Alex will be onshore shortly....10:00 AM CDT Sat Jun 26
Location: 17.3�N 86.1�W
Max sustained: 45 mph
Moving: WNW at 9 mph
Min pressure: 1003 mb

at 9MPH lol that will take that until tonight
Member Since: Luglio 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796
189. IKE
Quoting Patrap:
Will Alex drop the Chalupa..?

Will Oil-Zilla be averted ?



Lol...to question #2...the answer is yes...Oil-Zilla averted! Great news!
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Quoting scott39:
Drink some ice cold Lemonade! Ahh


actually no, he should drink room temperature lemonade

drinking anything ice cold after coming out of the hot sun can put your body in shock
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maybe your right stormpetrol
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Quoting reedzone:


Even a weak trough at least lifts the storm north, not recurving, but at least lifts the storm north. That's what I can see play out with Alex. Not this push it west.. I'm sorry, I just don't see it..


Ok. Enough already man. We get your point. Time will make you either a fool or a prodigy. Be patient and watch. Any US landfall is 5+ days away.
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185. jpsb
Quoting NOLA2005:
I can't find anything in our local media outlets regarding BP shutting down ops at the well. I'd like to think that we would hear that news first around here......
I took this article at face value, but I can't find another source either. I email the person that sent it to me asking for confirmation. The article might be hype. Still trying to confirm.
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This will likely even go south of where Dolly hit.
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Link
live webcam georgetown,grand cayman
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Will Alex drop the Chalupa..?

Will Oil-Zilla be averted ?

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137. UpperLevelLOL 10:06 AM CDT on June 26, 2010
That's the most impressive model yet
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179. IKE
Mexico bound....

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Quoting IKE:
Not that anyone cares...but...Man it is hot outside. I just got through vacuuming my car and mowing my front yard. I'm soaked in sweat!

Looks like Alex will be onshore shortly....10:00 AM CDT Sat Jun 26
Location: 17.3°N 86.1°W
Max sustained: 45 mph
Moving: WNW at 9 mph
Min pressure: 1003 mb
Drink some ice cold Lemonade! Ahh
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177. hercj
Quoting weatherwatcher12:

They are out, it's just that the Tropicalatlantic site is down.

Thank you.
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Quoting highndry1:
mornin' all:


Let me get this straight, BP is stopping the show for two weeks even though none of the computer models show Alex going anywhere NEAR the oil well or the slick?!


Much of that equipment working with the oil spill can't just leave in a moments notice. The general consensus is that it might take up to 5 days to shut everything down properly and get everyone cleared out safely.

BP can ill afford to wait and see no matter what the projected forecast is. They took chances and shortcuts before and 11 people died. Let's not go for more.

It's probably time to leave the oil professionals be. They are more than aware they are already in deep "you know what" Having tons of criticism from people that have absolutely no valid knowledge of the operation out there simply makes matters worse.
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Quoting scott39:
I still think its premature to be predicting a specific area for landfall on the Gulf Coast! This gives all the rest of the residents on the Gulf Coast somewhat of a false security IMO. Over the last 30 years that i have been watching tracks, Ive seen some wild shifts before landfall.
I agree too.... I think it is just a bit early....

Taco :o)
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Quoting scott39:
They see a high pressure not giving, even with intensity and trough.will see


Even a weak trough at least lifts the storm north, not recurving, but at least lifts the storm north. That's what I can see play out with Alex. Not this push it west.. I'm sorry, I just don't see it..
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Lastest Recon data heading towards the Caribbean:


000
URNT15 KNHC 261514
AF302 0301AALEX HDOB 05 20100626
150430 2821N 08914W 3439 08745 0504 -266 -459 222007 008 999 999 03
150500 2819N 08913W 3442 08734 0500 -267 -436 216007 008 999 999 03
150530 2816N 08913W 3441 08733 0502 -270 -416 219007 007 999 999 03
150600 2814N 08912W 3442 08733 0501 -269 -406 219007 008 999 999 03
150630 2812N 08911W 3441 08737 0500 -265 -418 229009 009 999 999 03
150700 2810N 08910W 3442 08730 0500 -267 -434 230009 010 999 999 03
150730 2808N 08909W 3442 08727 0501 -265 -425 242011 011 999 999 03
150800 2805N 08908W 3442 08732 0499 -265 -415 244012 013 999 999 03
150830 2803N 08906W 3442 08731 0499 -264 -420 243013 013 999 999 03
150900 2801N 08905W 3443 08729 0499 -260 -414 245014 014 999 999 03
150930 2759N 08904W 3442 08732 0498 -260 -404 247014 015 022 000 00
151000 2756N 08903W 3442 08732 0501 -260 -398 247015 016 023 000 00
151030 2754N 08902W 3443 08728 0501 -261 -397 248015 015 023 000 00
151100 2752N 08901W 3442 08731 0502 -262 -407 244015 015 022 001 00
151130 2749N 08900W 3442 08730 0501 -260 -412 246015 015 020 001 00
151200 2747N 08859W 3443 08731 0502 -260 -409 241014 014 015 002 00
151230 2745N 08857W 3442 08733 0501 -260 -404 246014 014 018 001 00
151300 2742N 08856W 3443 08734 0502 -260 -404 251013 014 016 001 00
151330 2740N 08855W 3443 08736 0503 -260 -406 245012 013 017 001 00
151400 2738N 08854W 3442 08734 0504 -260 -406 240013 013 019 000 00
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172. IKE
Not that anyone cares...but...Man it is hot outside. I just got through vacuuming my car and mowing my front yard. I'm soaked in sweat!

Looks like Alex will be onshore shortly....10:00 AM CDT Sat Jun 26
Location: 17.3N 86.1W
Max sustained: 45 mph
Moving: WNW at 9 mph
Min pressure: 1003 mb
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Quoting hercj:

Senior, recon was supposed to be wheels up out of KBIX at 1400Z. Any word on why they are not.

They are out, it's just that the Tropicalatlantic site is down.
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Guys, I'm sorry but I feel the models are initializing the trough too weak. I don't see the storm going towards the oil spill, but my eastern outlier is western LA, and southern outlier is northern Mexico. I just can't see this hitting south Mexico, when a trough comes, Alex will most likely start drifting north, especially if it's a Hurricane.
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169. unf97
TUTT north of Puerto Rico still shearing 94L late this morning.
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Quoting reedzone:
I don't know what the models are seeing, especially if this becomes a Hurricane. I see a Texas/LA storm, not a Mexico system.. no no no, it's wrong... I just don't see it.
They see a high pressure not giving, even with intensity and trough.will see
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JB called it a western GOM storm 5 days ago.
Good Job Joe!
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Recon is on the way... Warning image is not live at this time
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Quoting UpperLevelLOL:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

New models up


Looks more like the sound variations and DB levels of the vuvuzela. :)
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Quoting UpperLevelLOL:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

New models up



What the...
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Quoting stormpetrol:
17.6/84.8 Alex pulling more north imo.


the could field barely hits 85W

if Alex is center at 84.8 then it is severely lopsided
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162. hercj
Quoting StormW:


Right now, I don't see it.

Senior, recon was supposed to be wheels up out of KBIX at 1400Z. Any word on why they are not.
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Quoting reedzone:
I don't know what the models are seeing, especially if this becomes a Hurricane. I see a Texas/LA storm, not a Mexico system.. no no no, it's wrong... I just don't see it.


EXACTLY.
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IMHO based on latest visual, Alex's center appears to be consolidating closer to the ULH near 17.N and 86.5W.
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17.6/84.8 Alex pulling more north imo.
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thanks gentlemen, like bigdoge3 I live in Santa fE, TX galveston county only 30 miles from Freeport and 17 from Galveston Island and wetlands infront of me all the way to the San Luis Pass so anything with the probablity of coming here scares the He-- out of me Ike can up IH 45- 7 miles to the east of me
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www.hurricanecity.com/closeup
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
Hey guys I just got a note from tropicalatlantic recon page and the note is as follows

Our site is currently not processing data from the current mission due to the raw
observations being slightly different from how they are supposed to be. Additionally,
our site is suffering severe outages at the moment. Please try to reduce the load on
our site. I am working on a fix now to try and get the observations decoded correctly.


I knew something was wrong, we will have to follow recon from here LINK
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I still think its premature to be predicting a specific area for landfall on the Gulf Coast! This gives all the rest of the residents on the Gulf Coast somewhat of a false security IMO. Over the last 30 years that i have been watching tracks, Ive seen some wild shifts before landfall.
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Quoting robert88:
Alex won't be hitting TX. You guys can breathe easy now. Alex is going to miss the bus and that weakness shown by the GFS will be too far to the E. The ridge is going to be getting stronger through the next 96 hours pushing Alex into Mexico. This ended up being a very easy forecast.


I wouldn't be so quick to put Texas in the clear... the forecast is 4 to 5 days out, climatology can change in less, unexpectedly. Even if it didn't, some models are still predicting a south Texas landfall, and even a north Mexico landfall will affect Texas, especially because of the size
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Quoting bjdsrq:


Might be moot if this thing is going to TX/MX. Be great news for the situation. We don't need anything stalling the relief well and containment & clean up efforts.


Yep, just hope that no one jumps the gun out there, unnecessarily.
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Lol I like the correlation between dvorak estimates and official intensity.

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I don't know what the models are seeing, especially if this becomes a Hurricane. I see a Texas/LA storm, not a Mexico system.. no no no, it's wrong... I just don't see it.
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I would estimate the winds at steady at 15kt.

The waves are now becoming more organised. I just had to swim under the dive shop and remove some big timbers that were rattling the place.

I will post images if things get real exciting

Thanks we would love to see pics
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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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