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

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:12 PM GMT on June 26, 2010

Share this Blog
5
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 2999 - 2949

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75Blog Index

I can't believe what I read from the NHC by forecaster Brennan. Who the heck does he think he is taking the GFDL and GFS models and not only tossing them, but publically flogging them and calling them spurious. Sheesh. These models have served us well for years. The noive of some people.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
another jog north as it makes landfall
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:

More interesting than TWC for sure. I'd be ok if this is the future of news reporting.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Link

...and another....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
03z RUC Model, Mexico Approach

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Alex has impressed me by the way with how many towers of convection have reached -80 C. Its really, really convective. I wonder if that had to do with record warm SSTs contributing to less atmospheric stability, and combine that with its impressive upper outflow; BAM, convection!
It developed an impressive CDO and had one of the best outflows I've ever seen with a tropical cyclone (on water vapor). Plus, with all the build-up of heat in the Caribbean Alex was a very pretty storm to look at because of its size.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
louisianaboy444 "Okay this is getting a bit harsh...You could be a politician because every word i have said you have twisted around to make me into a bad person"
2770 pottery "I agree. You guys were over-reacting to a statement out of context."

I wish I had your philanthropic disposition. My interpretation is that they were quite deliberately trolling upon louisianaboy444 in hopes of provoking defensiveness.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
WHAT THE HELL......




Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TXGulfCoast:
I'm looking at the models shown on stormpulse.com and half of them now say it will head between Corpus and Houston. That's a few more models than the two outliers that NHC notes. Are these just not valid models?


The GFDL model showed a landfall around Victoria, Texas. That is a reliable model.

Texas is NOT out of the woods yet on this storm, because the models do appear to split on whether or not the storm feels the trough and turns Northward. It is still possible. Even if only a 20% chance that it takes a Houston turn... that's a surprise that people should be ready for.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Adrian,in terms of intensityforecast,is the 70kt too high or is about right?


Dont like to speculate on intensity forecast but i actually would not be surprised to see an 80kt hurricane approaching mexican coastline.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2989. Patrap
Station 42001 (LLNR 1400) - MID GULF 180 nm South of Southwest Pass, LA Image


Map data 2010 Google - Terms of Use
yellow diamond Currently selected station
yellow diamond Stations with recent data
red diamond Stations with no data in last 8 hours


Owned and maintained by National Data Buoy Center
12-meter discus buoy
ARES payload
25.900 N 89.667 W (25 54'0" N 89 40'0" W)

Conditions at 42001 as of
(9:50 pm CDT on 06/26/2010)
0250 GMT on 06/27/2010:
Unit of Measure: Time Zone:

Click on the graph icon in the table below to see a time series plot of the last five days of that observation.
5-day plot - Wind Direction Wind Direction (WDIR): E ( 90 deg true )
5-day plot - Wind Speed Wind Speed (WSPD): 17.5 kts
5-day plot - Wind Gust Wind Gust (GST): 21.4 kts
5-day plot - Wave Height Wave Height (WVHT): 5.2 ft
5-day plot - Dominant Wave Period Dominant Wave Period (DPD): 7 sec
5-day plot - Average Period Average Period (APD): 5.1 sec
5-day plot - Atmospheric Pressure Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 29.88 in
5-day plot - Pressure Tendency Pressure Tendency (PTDY): 0.04 in ( Rising )
5-day plot - Air Temperature Air Temperature (ATMP): 84.7
5-day plot - Water Temperature Water Temperature (WTMP): 85.8
5-day plot - Dew Point Dew Point (DEWP): 76.8
5-day plot - Heat Index Heat Index (HEAT): 94.8
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tramp96:
Do you have a timeline?
PSU steering and water vapor. Looks like the ridge will begin to weaken ina bout 48 hours.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
2987. beell
Quoting washingaway:
Does anyone want to try to explain "SPURIOUS
VORTICITY MAXIMA", anyone?


Vorticity maximum. A short explaination:
An ascending circulation

Spurious: False

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
You are scaring the kids KOTG!!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
0z NAM, Brownsville Approach or Spurious Vorticity Maxima?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Link

...umm, is this something to be worried about? or just another crazy model doing crazy things?
Looks like a cat 2 into Housten.... tell me I'm wrong please, thank you!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingaway:
Does anyone want to try to explain "SPURIOUS
VORTICITY MAXIMA", anyone?
Spurious means "of illegitimate birth". Vorticity means "a vector measure of local rotation in a fluid flow". And maxima means: "the greatest quantity or value attainable or attained". That should help you out.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
With 18-20 named storms predicted.. the next 3 months are going to be rough.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2981. will45
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
You want to know what is kind of freaky? I have a program on my blog that if you go to it I can know what country you live in, what internet browser you are using, and what type of software you are running (Windows XP, Windows Vista, etc...)
blockquote>

i have a prog that uses fake ips lol
Member Since: July 18, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 994
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
It is evident when using visible satellite imagery that rather impressive convection, in the -80˚C threshold, is firing over the COC. You will also notice WNW/NW motion.


Alex has impressed me by the way with how many towers of convection have reached -80 C. Its really, really convective. I wonder if that had to do with record warm SSTs contributing to less atmospheric stability, and combine that with its impressive upper outflow; BAM, convection!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2979. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Let's Do The Time Warp Again...sorry...a post from Pat yesterday....
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53841
2978. tramp96
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Ridge is forecast to weaken as a strong trough over the US plains will affect it.
Do you have a timeline?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricane23:
With a strong blocking ridge to the north i dont see anything there to drag alex north. TPC track forecast looks about right.



Adrian,in terms of the intensity forecast, is the 70kt too high or is about right?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Does anyone want to try to explain "SPURIOUS
VORTICITY MAXIMA", anyone?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricane23:
With a strong blocking ridge to the north i dont see anything there to drag alex north. TPC track forecast looks about right.

Ridge is forecast to weaken as a strong trough over the US plains will affect it.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
I have had the opportunity to see the oil closeup and from the air in CG planes as recently as yesterday.

Alex appears to be ready to build 4-6 foot seas in the Central Gulf that will bring oil to Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida coastlines. Granted if the storm stays further west the spill site may stay operational, but 3 days of SW or SE wind with elevated seas is going to be a big problem, especially as skimmers will be halted and the patches of oil can shoot the gap into the bays....keeping in mind that the bigger oil is now east of the river, maybe those with better minds than mine can calculate the results.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2973. xcool
GeoffreyWPB :0
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting beell:
Some spurious vorticity maxima in the GFS 850mb vort draped along the northern gulf coast. I think the GFS and GFDL are getting Alex tangled up with the cold front progged to be along the coast. Maybe.


Link

GFDL AND GFS TAKE ALEX FARTHER NORTH LATE IN THE
PERIOD...BUT THIS APPEARS TO BE DUE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF SPURIOUS
VORTICITY MAXIMA IN BOTH MODELS THAT ERODE THE RIDGE NORTH OF ALEX
Bad feedback so they just break it into 2 systems.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
2971. Patrap
Note the Curved Banding in the Long Range Mode Loop

NEXRAD Radar
New Orleans, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 248 NMI

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2970. xcool


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
With a strong blocking ridge to the north i dont see anything there to drag alex north. TPC track forecast looks about right.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MrNatural:
Much of the convection is dying down. Alex is almost surrounded by drier air, cutting it off from the feeder bands. Now the watching and waiting for the all important redirection to a more northerly component begins. And on that note, I'm outta here till morning.
It is evident when using visible satellite imagery that rather impressive convection, in the -80˚C threshold, is firing over the COC. You will also notice WNW/NW motion.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
Quoting xcool:
GeoffreyWPB ?


The track of Alex seems divided into two directions.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting xcool:
MrstormX .NOT YET


Get ready to F5 it lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2965. beell
Some spurious vorticity maxima in the GFS 850mb vort draped along the northern gulf coast. I think the GFS and GFDL are getting Alex tangled up with the cold front progged to be along the coast. Maybe.

Valid Tuesday, 06/29 12Z


Link

GFDL AND GFS TAKE ALEX FARTHER NORTH LATE IN THE
PERIOD...BUT THIS APPEARS TO BE DUE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF SPURIOUS
VORTICITY MAXIMA IN BOTH MODELS THAT ERODE THE RIDGE NORTH OF ALEX
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


I know the hunters use dropsondes for mesaurements. How do they know they aren't dropping a sonde into someone's backyard or roof when they do things over the US (unless they don't use dropsondes over the US, but just radar instead)
Yes they do drop dropsondes over the US. LOL, you got a point, what if it lands on a car or something.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
2963. xcool
MrstormX .NOT YET
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2962. OneDay
2954.

Holy smokes.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2961. jpsb
Night all, see ya in the am, should have a better solution to Alex tomorrow.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Much of the convection is dying down. Alex is almost surrounded by drier air, cutting it off from the feeder bands. Now the watching and waiting for the all important redirection to a more northerly component begins. And on that note, I'm outta here till morning.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Has the new GFS come out yet (0z)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2958. xcool
GeoffreyWPB ?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
You want to know what is kind of freaky? I have a program on my blog that if you go to it I can know what country you live in, what internet browser you are using, and what type of software you are running (Windows XP, Windows Vista, etc...)
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
LOL...Looks like only two choices xcool!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yes you're right. They are not allowed to investigate an area over land unless it is over the U.S.


I know the hunters use dropsondes for mesaurements. How do they know they aren't dropping a sonde into someone's backyard or roof when they do things over the US (unless they don't use dropsondes over the US, but just radar instead)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2954. Patrap
For a Grasp and feel for the Size of TS Alex Wind Field and Envelope.

Check out the NOLA Radar in Composite mode,and the Tstorm Line in the ESL GOM IR Loop


NEXRAD Radar
New Orleans, Composite Reflectivity Range 124 NMI



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2953. xcool




Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Let's Do The Time Warp Again...sorry...a post from Pat yesterday....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


They should be constantly on call to fix the center of Alex when its over water, that's how they do things with tropical cyclones. They will be flying into Alex once the center emerges into the Gulf of Mexico (don't think they're allowed to do recon over land).
Yes you're right. They are not allowed to investigate an area over land unless it is over the U.S.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
Quoting txsweetpea:
Are the HH scheduled to go out tommorrow?


They should be constantly on call to fix the center of Alex when its over water, that's how they do things with tropical cyclones. They will be flying into Alex once the center emerges into the Gulf of Mexico (don't think they're allowed to do recon over land).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2949. Patrap
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 2999 - 2949

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75Blog Index

Top of Page

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.