Alex building an eyewall, still not a hurricane

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:34 PM GMT on June 29, 2010

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Tropical Storm Alex is slowly building an eyewall, which is now more than 50% complete, according to recent satellite imagery and microwave images (Figure 1.) Satellite loops show a slot of dry air is spiraling into the center of the storm, and until this dry slot gets closed off, Alex will not be able to intensify significantly. Alex's heavy thunderstorms and low level spiral bands continue to slowly increase, but upper-level outflow is mediocre to the north and east, and absent elsewhere. The Hurricane Hunters are in the storm and have not found any hurricane-force winds at the surface yet.


Figure 1. Microwave "radar in space" image taken at 10:11 am CDT Tuesday June 28, 2010, showing that Alex had built an eyewall a little more than 50% complete. Image credit: Navy Research Lab.

Impacts
Alex is already bringing bands of heavy rain to the coasts of Texas and Mexico, as seen on the Brownsville, Texas radar. Hurricane local statements with projections for how Alex will affect the coast are now being issued by the National Weather Service in Brownsville and Corpus Christi. Since Alex is a large storm, it will have a storm surge that will affect most of the South Texas coast. NHC is giving a 40% - 60% chance of a storm surge of at least 3 feet affecting the Brownsville area, and 10% - 30% chance the surge will exceed 5 feet. In theory, a Category 2 hurricane moving WNW at 5 mph can bring a storm surge of up to 8 - 9 feet to the South Texas coast (Figure 2.) However, Alex is now unlikely to get that strong, and the surge should be less. Flooding damage from the expected 6 - 12 inches of rain from Alex will also be a major concern, as will wind damage. The combined wind, surge, and flooding damage from 2008's Hurricane Dolly, which hit near Brownsville, were about $1.05 billion. Dolly was a Category 2 hurricane offshore that weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds when it made landfall. I expect Alex will be similar in its impacts to Dolly, though Alex's storm surge damage is likely to be greater. If Alex hits more than 50 miles south of the Texas border, as currently appears likely, the damage will be far less, since this region of the coast is relatively sparsely populated.


Figure 2. 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 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. This Maximum of the "Maximum Envelope of Waters" (MOM) image was generated for high tide, and thus shows the worst-case inundation scenarios for a mid-strength Category 2 hurricane moving WNW at 5 mph. For more information on storm surge, consult our detailed storm surge pages.

Track forecast for Alex
The latest 12 UTC (7am CDT) runs of our most reliable computer models confirm the faster movement of Alex to the coast, and residents in the affected areas now have 12 hours less to prepare for Alex's arrival than it seemed with yesterday's forecasts. Conditions will begin to deteriorate along the coast late tonight, so today is the day to finish preparations if you live near the Texas/Mexico border! The ridge that is steering Alex to the northwest is expected to strengthen today and Wednesday, which should push Alex on a more west-northwest and then westerly track on Wednesday. A few models even have Alex moving west-southwest by the time it makes landfall. The most northerly landfall location, near Brownsville, is predicted by the HWRF model.

To get the probability of receiving tropical storm force winds or hurricane force winds for your location, I recommend the NHC wind probability forecasts. The 4am CDT (9 UTC) wind probability product predicted that Brownsville, Texas had the highest odds of getting a direct hit from Alex:

Brownsville, TX: 88% chance of tropical storm conditions (winds 39+ mph), 23% chance of hurricane force winds (74+ mph). This is the cumulative probability through Saturday morning. The wind probability forecasts also include separate probabilities for each 12-hour period between now and three days from now, and each 24 hours for the period 4 - 5 days from now.

Corpus Christi, TX: 42% tropical storm, 1% hurricane.

La Pesco, MX: 37% tropical storm, 3% hurricane.

Freeport, TX: 18% tropical storm, 0% hurricane.

Tampico, MX: 14% tropical storm, 0% hurricane.

Galveston, TX: 13% tropical storm, 0% hurricane.

Intensity forecast for Alex
Alex is over a region of ocean with a warm, clockwise rotating Loop Current eddy that broke off from the Loop Current in July 2009 and moved west-southwest over the past 11 months. This eddy has moderately high total ocean heat content . Wind shear has fallen to a low 5 knots, and is projected by the SHIPS model to remain in the low range, below 10 knots, this afternoon and Wednesday. The combination of low wind shear and moderately high ocean heat content should allow Alex to intensify into a Category 1 hurricane, but time is running out for it to be a Category 2 hurricane. NHC is giving Alex a 79% chance of being a hurricane on Wednesday morning, and a 4% chance it will be a major hurricane at that time. Water vapor satellite images show the amount of dry air over the western Gulf of Mexico has decreased over the past day, though as I noted above, the dry slot wrapping into Alex's core is currently keeping the storm from closing off an eyewall. Dry air may turn out to be an increasing detriment to Alex on Wednesday as the storm approaches land. Another factor limiting Alex's intensification may be that the atmosphere is more stable than usual right now--temperatures at 200 mb are a rather warm -50°C, and are expected to warm an additional 1 - 2 degrees by Wednesday. I don't expect Alex to stall out again, so slow motion leading to upwelling of cold water will probably not be a problem for Alex. The main issue limiting intensification will be the fact that Alex is so large, and it takes more time for a large storm to organize. Thus, I think Alex has only a 10% chance of intensifying into a major hurricane before landfall.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The last few runs of the NOGAPS model have been predicting the formation of a tropical disturbance off the coast of Nicaragua on Friday or Saturday that will move northwestward towards western Cuba. The GFS model, and the two models that use it for starting conditions, the GFDL and HWRF, are indicating the possibility that a weak extratropical storm may form along coastal Alabama this weekend. It is unlikely that such a storm would be over water long enough to transition to a tropical storm.

Wind and ocean current forecast for the BP oil disaster
It currently appears that Alex's winds will not directly affect the oil slick location. However, because Alex is such a deep low pressure region, strong southeast to south winds of 10 - 20 knots will blow over the oil slick region today through Thursday, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. The resulting currents should act to push oil to the west and northwest onto portions of the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama coasts, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana. Oil will also move westward along the central Louisiana coast towards the Texas border. Alex is currently bringing swells of 3 - 4 feet to the coastal regions impacted by the oil slick, and these swells will increase to 6 - 8 feet on Wednesday. Wave heights will increase to 5 - 7 feet on Wednesday. Alex is expected to bring a storm surge of 1 - 2 feet along the coast in the oil spill region. The swells and waves that will accompany these high water levels will act to push oil deep into the marshlands in some locations. The long range forecast for the oil slick region is uncertain, due to the possibility a weak area of low pressure might develop late this week along the remains of a cold front draped across the region.

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

"Hurricane Haven" airing again this afternoon
Tune into another airing of my live Internet radio show, "Hurricane Haven", at 4pm EDT today. Listeners will be able to call in and ask questions. The call in number is 415-983-2634, or you can post a question in the comments area on my blog during the show. You can also email the questions to me today before the show: jmasters@wunderground.com. Be sure to include "Hurricane Haven question" in the subject line. Some topics I'll cover today on the show:

1) Alex
2) A look ahead at what may happen the rest of hurricane season

Today's show will be about 45 minutes, and you can tune in at http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.h tml. The show will be recorded and stored as a podcast.

Next post
I'll have an update Wednesday morning by 9:30am CDT. Rob Carver is planning on doing a late-night update tonight.

Jeff Masters

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oh
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
.


lol

Sorry.
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Quoting Tazmanian:




they this found a 904mb >??????


990.4
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Quoting Tazmanian:




they this found a 904mb >??????
990.4mb.
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The only time that I have seen them do a forecast discussion is on a special advisory (mainly when a system first develops into a TD, if forming before normal advisory times)
Member Since: March 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1147
Do huricanes all ways travel to the left of their out flow?
just an observation from past storms including this one.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
000
URNT15 KNHC 300006
AF303 1001A ALEX HDOB 15 20100629
235700 2351N 09505W 8429 01453 9952 +190 +147 062041 041 035 000 00
235730 2349N 09504W 8428 01452 9951 +189 +146 061041 042 034 000 00
235800 2347N 09504W 8432 01446 9948 +191 +146 061042 042 035 000 03
235830 2346N 09503W 8429 01449 9947 +189 +151 059040 041 036 000 00
235900 2344N 09503W 8429 01445 9946 +187 +156 064042 043 037 000 00
235930 2343N 09502W 8431 01442 9942 +190 +155 063041 041 037 000 00
000000 2341N 09501W 8430 01442 9939 +191 +154 061041 042 038 000 03
000030 2339N 09501W 8427 01444 9937 +190 +157 059039 039 037 001 03
000100 2338N 09500W 8430 01437 9936 +190 +158 059040 040 037 001 00
000130 2337N 09459W 8434 01431 9934 +190 +157 062040 040 038 000 00
000200 2335N 09458W 8426 01437 9930 +190 +159 058040 041 038 000 00
000230 2334N 09457W 8430 01431 9929 +190 +158 056039 040 039 000 00
000300 2333N 09456W 8430 01429 9926 +190 +159 056040 041 038 000 03
000330 2331N 09455W 8429 01430 9922 +192 +159 054040 041 038 000 03
000400 2330N 09454W 8429 01426 9920 +194 +159 054039 040 038 001 00
000430 2328N 09453W 8432 01421 9917 +194 +159 055039 040 038 000 00
000500 2327N 09452W 8429 01421 9916 +190 +161 054040 041 039 003 00
000530 2326N 09451W 8426 01422 9912 +192 +161 053040 042 039 002 00
000600 2324N 09450W 8433 01413 9908 +194 +159 053039 040 038 000 00
000630 2323N 09449W 8429 01414 9904 +197 +155 053042 042 037 000 00
$$

;






they this found a 904mb >??????
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.
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000
URNT15 KNHC 300006
AF303 1001A ALEX HDOB 15 20100629
235700 2351N 09505W 8429 01453 9952 +190 +147 062041 041 035 000 00
235730 2349N 09504W 8428 01452 9951 +189 +146 061041 042 034 000 00
235800 2347N 09504W 8432 01446 9948 +191 +146 061042 042 035 000 03
235830 2346N 09503W 8429 01449 9947 +189 +151 059040 041 036 000 00
235900 2344N 09503W 8429 01445 9946 +187 +156 064042 043 037 000 00
235930 2343N 09502W 8431 01442 9942 +190 +155 063041 041 037 000 00
000000 2341N 09501W 8430 01442 9939 +191 +154 061041 042 038 000 03
000030 2339N 09501W 8427 01444 9937 +190 +157 059039 039 037 001 03
000100 2338N 09500W 8430 01437 9936 +190 +158 059040 040 037 001 00
000130 2337N 09459W 8434 01431 9934 +190 +157 062040 040 038 000 00
000200 2335N 09458W 8426 01437 9930 +190 +159 058040 041 038 000 00
000230 2334N 09457W 8430 01431 9929 +190 +158 056039 040 039 000 00
000300 2333N 09456W 8430 01429 9926 +190 +159 056040 041 038 000 03
000330 2331N 09455W 8429 01430 9922 +192 +159 054040 041 038 000 03
000400 2330N 09454W 8429 01426 9920 +194 +159 054039 040 038 001 00
000430 2328N 09453W 8432 01421 9917 +194 +159 055039 040 038 000 00
000500 2327N 09452W 8429 01421 9916 +190 +161 054040 041 039 003 00
000530 2326N 09451W 8426 01422 9912 +192 +161 053040 042 039 002 00
000600 2324N 09450W 8433 01413 9908 +194 +159 053039 040 038 000 00
000630 2323N 09449W 8429 01414 9904 +197 +155 053042 042 037 000 00
$$

;


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Recons finding a 995mb pressure 80 miles from the center.


Thanks for the continued updates, much appreciated.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7387
I am convince that Barometer Bob is Mr. Rogers..
StormW when do you come on?
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Recons finding a 995mb pressure 80 miles from the center.
This low is going to be stronger than what we are thinking, like in the sub-975mb threshold.
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1129. will45
Quoting ecflweatherfan:


Will, NHC does forecast discussions on the complete advisories at 5am, 11am, 5pm, 11pm.


thot they did at 8 when warnings are out
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Recons finding a 995mb pressure 80 miles from the center.
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ok all when the next storm yawn
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1125. xcool
100% hurricane nhc need update now
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Alex is putting on a mean burst of convection in his eastern flank.
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Quoting will45:
Looks like NHC dont wanna discuss Alex


Will, NHC does forecast discussions on the complete advisories at 5am, 11am, 5pm, 11pm.
Member Since: March 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1147
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Alex is running out of time to become a hurricane which is a good thing.It'll probally be like those storms that start intensifying before landfall(dolly,Ike,Charly)but run into land.


It is most likely a Hurricane, the NHC is waiting for recon to confirm.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7387
he's going wrong way! he's moving West, then a SW, he's gonna loop, the high will pass by, trough coming down the road, you want him to Go on NW and get on land
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Pressures starting to decrease as Recon approaches the center of circulation of Alex. IMO, lowest minimum pressure will range from 979mb-973mb.

000
URNT15 KNHC 292356
AF303 1001A ALEX HDOB 14 20100629
234700 2417N 09522W 8429 01478 9987 +181 +134 069035 035 032 000 00
234730 2416N 09521W 8429 01478 9986 +181 +131 071038 039 031 000 00
234800 2415N 09520W 8428 01477 9983 +182 +132 070038 039 031 000 00
234830 2414N 09518W 8426 01478 9982 +183 +133 067039 040 032 000 00
234900 2413N 09517W 8429 01474 9981 +184 +134 068038 038 031 000 00
234930 2412N 09516W 8429 01472 9978 +186 +135 072038 039 033 000 00
235000 2411N 09515W 8433 01467 9978 +185 +137 069039 040 033 000 00
235030 2410N 09514W 8428 01471 9976 +184 +141 069037 038 032 000 00
235100 2408N 09513W 8431 01467 9974 +184 +146 074038 039 033 000 00
235130 2407N 09511W 8429 01468 9972 +185 +148 074040 041 034 000 00
235200 2406N 09510W 8430 01465 9971 +184 +149 074041 041 033 000 03
235230 2405N 09509W 8427 01469 9969 +186 +150 072043 045 035 002 03
235300 2404N 09509W 8426 01469 9969 +184 +150 070043 045 035 000 00
235330 2402N 09508W 8429 01464 9966 +185 +149 071038 040 036 000 00
235400 2400N 09508W 8430 01460 9962 +187 +147 067037 038 033 000 00
235430 2359N 09507W 8428 01461 9964 +185 +148 066038 039 034 000 00
235500 2357N 09507W 8429 01457 9959 +189 +147 065039 040 034 000 00
235530 2356N 09506W 8429 01457 9957 +189 +147 065039 040 035 000 00
235600 2354N 09506W 8425 01460 9954 +191 +148 066039 039 035 000 00
235630 2352N 09505W 8428 01456 9953 +191 +146 065041 042 035 000 00
$$
;
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1118. Patrap
Pressure isnt the Tell all of a Hurricane Category..

Its wind speed.

Always will be.




Systems like this Large cyclone arent the run of the mill Cyclones.

This is CV Vortex more like we see in Sept.

Like a Ballerina with the arms out..you spin her fast, it takes a while to rev her up.

Bring in the arms..well..ya know the opposite,..a faster spin occurs.

Alex has very long arms..

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1117. will45
Looks like NHC dont wanna discuss Alex
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Alex looks to be moving S/W could it do a loop?
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Quoting stormpetrol:
Well if Alex ain't upgraded to a hurricane shortly with a pressure of 980mb, my guess is it never will be, this is longest I ever seen the NHC hold off on upgrading a system with those pressure readings to a hurricane, maybe its just the psychological effect of a hurricane in the Gulf with all thats happening there, of course just my personal opinion, don't get me wrong, I think the NHC has done a fantastic job with Alex so far as I'm concerned, I just thinks it warrants an upgrade.


They haven't upgraded alex to hurricane status because it hasn't been a hurricane. Pressure doesn't dictate designation, wind speed does. The NHC will upgrade Alex to hurricane status when they have proof it is a hurricane, not a second before.
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It appears based on satellite imagery, that Alex will need to make a hard right to make landfall in TX. With strength of ridge over the Plains pushing on this system, do not think that a landfall in TX is likely. However, heavy rains and winds to Tropical Storm force will be likely. I think it will continue W-WNW over the next 24 hrs unto and through landfall. I give south TX a 10% chance of landfall. Also I give it a 60% chance that NHC will issue a special advisory between now and 11pm ET
Member Since: March 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1147
then:


now:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IMA:


Did you mean infinitesimal? LOL Sorry, that same sort of thing has happened to me more than once. I am laughing with you, not at you.

I thank God my momma was on constant grammar-patrol. My biggest language pet-peeves are the their/there/they're, your/you're, to/too/two issues. lol

I tried so hard to find a way to end one of my sentences in a preposition; I failed miserably.

Hi Ima, great picture!
Yeah, that was pretty sloppy.
infinitestimal
(อินฟินนิเทส'ทะเมิล) adj.,n. (จำนวน)เล็กน้อยเหลือเกิน,เล็กน้อยจน ัดไม่ได้,เล็กน้อยสุดประมาณ. คำที่มีความหมายเหมือนกัน: tiny,minute
I think Urdu recognizes that spelling and some engineering texts.

It's is always it is. Just remembering that would be a great service to the cause.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11314
Quoting Daveg:


No biggie. I shouldn't have reacted the way I did either. No worries.



ok
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did ALEX stall??? too me it looks like it not even moveing but the nhc say 12mph
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1108. Daveg
Quoting Tazmanian:



sorry my bad


No biggie. I shouldn't have reacted the way I did either. No worries.
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Well if Alex ain't upgraded to a hurricane shortly with a pressure of 980mb, my guess is it never will be, this is longest I ever seen the NHC hold off on upgrading a system with those pressure readings to a hurricane, maybe its just the psychological effect of a hurricane in the Gulf with all thats happening there, of course just my personal opinion, don't get me wrong, I think the NHC has done a fantastic job with Alex so far as I'm concerned, I just thinks it warrants an upgrade.
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Quoting Daveg:


Geesh, sorry. Just got back on the blog, it's just 7pm CDT, so I didn't know if it had been posted yet.

Why don't you just say "Hey, that was already posted"? Or do you just have to be rude by default?



sorry my bad
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looks like he wants to bury himself down in the BOC and hide out few days then wait for next trough
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1104. Daveg
Quoting Tazmanian:




how many times do we need too see that


Geesh, sorry. Just got back on the blog, it's just 7pm CDT, so I didn't know if it had been posted yet.

Why don't you just say "Hey, that was already posted"? Or do you just have to be rude by default?
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Agreed. I am thinking category 2 strength before landfall, let's see if the NHC concurs with me.

I agree too. I think it will pretty much do what Dolly did.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Alex has moved due west over the past 3 hours.


I know the NHC doesn't update the track on the interim advisory, and that makes the near term plot points on the 3 day cone look awfully contorted at this point, given the Western run.
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If Alex keeps on organizing at this rate and keeps stamping out the dry air impediments I think it can reach a high cat 1/borderline cat 2 hurricane before landfall tomorrow. But this is coming from a new guy, so don't put too much weight in it.
Member Since: October 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 544
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Quoting Daveg:
SUMMARY OF 700 PM CDT...0000 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...23.2N 94.5W
ABOUT 215 MI...345 KM E OF LA PESCA MEXICO
ABOUT 265 MI...425 KM SE OF BROWNSVILLE TEXAS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...70 MPH...110 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 285 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...980 MB...28.94 INCHES

THIS
GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED THROUGH WEDNESDAY. ON THE FORECAST
TRACK...THE CENTER OF ALEX WILL APPROACH THE COAST OF NORTHEASTERN
MEXICO AND SOUTHERN TEXAS
ON WEDNESDAY AND MAKE LANDFALL IN THE
HURRICANE WARNING AREA LATE WEDNESDAY OR WEDNESDAY NIGHT.





how many times do we need too see that
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1096. Daveg
SUMMARY OF 700 PM CDT...0000 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...23.2N 94.5W
ABOUT 215 MI...345 KM E OF LA PESCA MEXICO
ABOUT 265 MI...425 KM SE OF BROWNSVILLE TEXAS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...70 MPH...110 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 285 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...980 MB...28.94 INCHES

THIS
GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED THROUGH WEDNESDAY. ON THE FORECAST
TRACK...THE CENTER OF ALEX WILL APPROACH THE COAST OF NORTHEASTERN
MEXICO AND SOUTHERN TEXAS
ON WEDNESDAY AND MAKE LANDFALL IN THE
HURRICANE WARNING AREA LATE WEDNESDAY OR WEDNESDAY NIGHT.

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There was model yesterday that had Alex dive SW while over Mexico, well it almost looks as if he's already doing that but over water...what are the odds he moves SW and stalls because of ridge and does a loop and moves back North?!
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am going to make ALEX mad and call it a fat cow
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1093. Patrap
23:46:30Z 24.300N 95.383W 842.9 mb

(~ 24.89 inHg) 1,479 meters
(~ 4,852 feet) 998.8 mb
(~ 29.49 inHg) - From 65 at 36 knots
(From the ENE at ~ 41.4 mph)
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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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