Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Alex making landfall

The westernmost eyewall of Hurricane Alex is making its way on to the shores of northeastern Mexico at this hour. The Cat. 2 storm is packing 100 mph winds and torrential rains, according to the National Weather Service.

Its pressure of 948 mb rivals that of Hurricane Charley, which made landfall at Cayo Costa, Fla., on Aug. 13, 2004, at 941 mb.

Find the 9 p.m. advisory here.

Alex now at Cat. 2

Hurricane Alex's winds are up to 100 mph and landfall on the coast of Mexico is expected in a matter of hours.

The center of circulation is just 55 miles northeast of La Pesca, Mexico, according to the National Weather Service at 7 p.m.

Find a full advisory here.

5 p.m. update

Hurricane Alex is continuing to strengthen as it approaches Mexico, with maximum sustained winds hitting 90 mph, according to the National Weather Service's 5 p.m. advisory.

Its center of circulation sits about 80 miles northeast of La Pesca, Mexico, and about 105 miles south-southeast of Brownsville, Texas.

The storm's forward speed has increased (toward the west at 13 mph) and the pressure decreased (959 mb).

The scale of this storm is huge, too. Hurricane-force winds now extend 70 miles from the center, with tropical storm-force winds 205 from the center, primarily to the northeast.

Find the complete advisory here.

Find National Weather Service maps and charts for Alex here.

Find a satellite loop here.

A little stronger

Hurricane Alex grew a little stronger, with winds of 85 mph, according to the 2 p.m. advisory from the National Weather Service.

Some particulars: 
  • The center of circulation was about 130 miles south-southeast of Brownsville, Texas.
  • Hurricane-force winds extended 60 miles from the center, while tropical storm-force winds extended 200 miles from the center, primarily to the northeast.
  • Pressure was down to 962 mb.
Next update at 5 p.m.

'Alex has not strengthened yet ...'

... but, says the National Hurricane Center, but he is "forecast to do so today."

As of 11 a.m. EDT, Hurricane Alex remained a Category 1 storm, with maximum sustained winds at 80 mph. It was centered about 190 miles southeast of Brownsville, Texas, heading to the northwest at about 7 mph, according to the Hurricane Center.

Brownsville radar shows Hurricane Alex's girth

To get an idea of how massive a storm Hurricane Alex is, take a look at the radar imagery from the National Weather Service office in Brownsville, Texas:

As of 8 a.m. EDT, Alex was centered about 220 miles southeast of Brownsville, heading west-northwest at 7 mph. Maximum sustained winds were 80 mph.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Alex a hurricane

For the first time since 1995, the Atlantic basin has a June hurricane.

Tropical Storm Alex became Hurricane Alex as of the National Weather Service's 11 p.m. update, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.

Alex is forecast to stay south of Texas and make landfall somewhere along the coast of Mexico early Wednesday night. Hurricane-force winds extend 15 miles from the center of circulation, while tropical storm-force winds extend 175 miles from the center.

Alex is expected to produce rainfall accumulations of 6-12 inches over portions of northeastern Mexico and southern Texas. Isolated areas could see 20 inches, the weather service said. A storm surge of 3-5 feet is expected, too.

The last June hurricane in the Atlantic basin was Allison, which made landfall on the Florida Panhandle on June 6, 1995, as a weakening tropical storm.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Alex could flood deep South Texas just released a 6 p.m. update, and it puts Alex's current track toward deep South Texas, with flooding there and at least 4 to 8 inches of rain expected Tuesday night through Friday. Some local areas are predicted to receive as much as 10 inches of rain. Hurricane-force winds would also affect Brownsville.

The soil apparently is already abnormally wet in the Rio Grande Valley, according to Expert Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.
"This has the potential to bring very serious flooding to South Texas during Wednesday and Thursday," Kottlowski said.

Computer models are bringing Alex in just south of the Rio Grande. If Alex tracks north of the Rio Grande Valley, making landfall closer to or north of Matagorda Bay, the worst of the storm would target the middle or upper Texas coast rather than deep South Texas.
Alex is predicted to make landfall between late Wednesday night and Thursday morning and should become a hurricane on Tuesday.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Alex threat diminishing?

Not one of the latest computer models for Tropical Storm Alex has the storm curving north and east back toward Ground Zero of the oil disaster.

As of 2 p.m., the storm's maximum sustained winds had increased to 45 mph, and the barometric pressure had dropped from 1004 mb to 1003 mb.

Here's the latest models map:

Alex forms, but where will it go?

The Associated Press
Tropical Storm Alex formed in the western Caribbean on Saturday, and forecasters said it was unclear if it would hit the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said early Saturday that the storm has maximum sustained winds of about 45 mph (75 kph). Most storm models show Alex traveling over the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico over the weekend, hurricane forecaster Jack Bevens said.
Bevens noted it's too soon to say with certainty if the storm will pass over the oiled Gulf, though for now it's not expected to hit the spill. A storm's predicted track can quickly change as conditions shift

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tropical depression heading towards Yucatan; effect on oil spill uncertain

The Associated Press reports:
The first tropical depression of the Atlantic 2010 hurricane season has formed in the Western Caribbean, but it is unclear if it will pass over the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Friday that the depression has winds of about 35 mph (55 kph).

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. The peninsula separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. The warning is in effect in Mexico from Chetumal north to Cancun.

The depression is on track to reach the peninsula by late Saturday. It is about 345 miles (555 km) east-southeast of Chemtumal.

In the Gulf, the spill has been put at somewhere between 69 million and 132 million gallons in the water.
Here's the latest map from the National Hurricane Center, including the "cone of uncertainty":

Here's a map showing what computer models are currently predicting:

Hurricane Center: 'High' chance Caribbean system turns into 'Alex' (UPDATED)

 See update below.

The National Hurricane Center this morning said there is a "high" chance that a tropical wave in the western Caribbean Sea turns into the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.

"Upper-level winds are gradually becoming more conducive for development as the low drifts slowly northwestward, and the system could become a tropical depression before it reaches the Yucatan Peninsula in a couple of days," the Hurricane Center said in an advisory released at 2 a.m. EDT.

The broad low-pressure system was located about 150 miles east-northeast of Cabo Gracias A Dios on the Honduras-Nicaragua border.

The Hurricane Center said there was 60 percent chance the system would turn into a tropical storm or hurricane — which would be named "Alex" — within the next 48 hours.

As for where the system is heading, it might be premature to look too far out, but here is what the latest projection map from Weather Underground shows:

As of 8 a.m. EDT, the Hurricane Center had upped the odds to 70 percent that this system would turn into Alex within 48 hours.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Gulf storm would mean more freely gushing oil

The tropical wave is some 1,100 miles from the oily disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It could go anywhere from Florida to Mexico. It could wind up little more than rain and blustery wind.

Nonetheless, a broad system tracking west across the Caribbean Sea was an unsettling reminder that hurricane season remains a significant threat to BP’s slow struggle to contain and seal its deep-sea gusher.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said Thursday that the Coast Guard told him an approaching storm would force BP to stop siphoning oil belching from the well for at least a week — leaving an estimated 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day to freely flow into a Gulf already sick with the stuff.

“That means you have 60,000 barrels a day that will gush uninterrupted and unskimmed for 10 days,” said Nelson, who is pushing the Navy to outfit vessels as skimmers and have them on standby.

For now, it’s uncertain whether the disorganized wave will disrupt BP operations. The National Hurricane Center gave it a 40 percent shot at strengthening into a tropical system by Friday.

“It’s really a sloppy system,” said hurricane specialist John Cangialosi.

Still, the Coast Guard was watching its progress because any system pushing gale-force winds toward the spill site could be a game-changer. If experts are right, the Atlantic could be dealing with a lot of them in the coming months.
-- Miami Herald

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Some projections have tropical wave heading towards oil spill

While the National Hurricane Center continues laying odds on whether a tropical wave in the Caribbean dumping buckets of rain on parts of Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti, turns into the first tropical storm or hurricane of the season, a map at Weather Underground guesses where the system may be heading.

Note that the blue and purple routes take it over waters mixed with oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

AccuWeather: Atlantic Basin 'ready to boil over'

 Even though the National Hurricane Center has reduced the chances that a tropical wave in the Caribbean will turn into anything more to worry about, sees trouble coming soon for the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico.

Here's part of an e-mail we received earlier today:
(B)ased on the overall weather pattern and ideas from several computer models, the odds are increasing for tropical cyclone formation in the western Atlantic Basin before the end of the month.

At the very least, a period of rough seas and strong thunderstorms will affect part of the Gulf of Mexico next week. Hurricane and Long Range Expert Meteorologist Joe Bastardi assimilates the current weather pattern in the Atlantic Basin to a "tropical brew that is ready to boil over."

Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and the Southwest Atlantic are already very warm, compared to normal.

Tropical waves of low pressure rolling westward from Africa are already very active and are progressively becoming more vigorous.

One wave, bound to cause trouble, is currently drifting slowly westward through the central Caribbean and will deliver gusty, drenching thunderstorms to Hispaniola, where Haiti is located, into Wednesday.
There is an abundance of showers and thunderstorms in the Caribbean, which represents plenty of "potential energy" for tropical cyclone formation.

Some computer models are developing the tropical wave in the Caribbean later this week.

These models go so far as to spin up the first tropical storm of the Atlantic season. At least one of these models develops a hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico between the 28th and 30th.

Hurricane Center: Caribbean system has become less organized (UPDATED)

See update below.

A system of showers and thunderstorms over the central Caribbean Sea could develop into a tropical depression over the next couple of days, the National Hurricane Center said this morning.

Forecasters say there is a 40 percent, or "medium," chance that the system could turn into the first tropical storm or hurricane of the season, named "Alex."

"Winds appear to be conducive for gradual development and a tropical depression could form during the next couple of days," the Hurricane Center said in a statement.

Regardless of its status, forecasters predicted the system would produce occasionally heavy rain and gusty winds over parts of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica as it moves west-northwestward at about 10 mph.

As for what this system might do, Weather Underground had this map showing various projections:

UPDATED, 2:15 p.m. EDT -- The Hurricane Center reports that the system "has become less organized today," and has reduced the chance that it will develop into a tropical storm or hurricane to 20 percent. Earlier today, the chance was listed at 40 percent.

However -- and this is a big "however" -- "environmental conditions are expected to become more conducive for slow development of this system over the next several days as it moves west-northwestward at about 10 mph."

Monday, June 21, 2010

'Low' chance tropical wave turns into 1st hurricane of Atlantic season (UPDATED)

There is a 20 percent, or "low," chance that a large area of "disorganized showers and thunderstorms" over the eastern Caribbean sea could turn into the first tropical storm or hurricane season, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The "wave" could produce locally heavy rainfall and gusty wind over parts of northern Venezuela, the Lesser Antilles, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti over the next day or so.

"Environmental conditions appear conducive for gradual development of this system during the next couple of days," the Hurricane Center said in a statement.

If the system develops into a tropical storm or hurricane, it will be named "Alex."

UPDATED, 3:15 p.m. EDT -- As of 2 p.m., the Hurricane Center says there is a 30 percent chance the system will develop into something worth worrying about.

"This system is showing some signs of organization and environmental conditions appear conducive for gradual development during the next couple of days," an update states.

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's not too early for the first tropical storm to form

With a tropical disturbance that may turn into Alex brewing more than 1,400 miles from the Windward Islands, it got us to wondering what's the earliest a storm or hurricane has formed in the Atlantic this decade.

The National Hurricane Center has the answers:
  • 2009: Tropical Storm Ana, Aug. 11.
  • 2008: Tropical Storm Arthur, May 31.
  • 2007: Subtropical Storm Andrea, May 9.
  • 2006: Tropical Storm Alberto, June 10.
  • 2005: Tropical Storm Arlene, June 8.
  • 2004: Hurricane Alex, July 11.
  • 2003: Tropical Storm Ana, April 20.
  • 2002: Tropical Storm Arthur, July 14.
  • 2001: Tropical Storm Allison, June 5.
  • 2000: Hurricane Alberto, Aug. 3

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In the midst of another quiet June

It'll probably be a while until we see our first named storm of the Atlantic season. Take a look at this chart looking at storm formation by month in the Atlantic basin, courtesy of NOAA. Note June, but as they always say, it only takes one storm.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

All signs, and forecasts, point to active season

Just as their federal government counterparts did last week, forecasters at Colorado State University on Wednesday predicted an active hurricane season.

They expect 18 named storms to develop in the Atlantic, including 10 hurricanes. Five are expected to be major, and there's an above-average probability of a major storm, one with sustained winds of at least 111 mph, hitting land in the United States or Caribbean.

The CSU forecast has worsened since April, when 15 named storms and eight hurricanes were predicted.
Why the uptick? Much warmer tropical Atlantic surface temperatures and cooling Pacific conditions.
While the hurricane season officially started Tuesday, major storms still aren't likely for another 2 1/2 to 3 months.
According to well-known researcher William Gray and his colleagues, there's a 51 percent chance of a major hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast, which is greater than the long-term average of 30 percent.
Gray said there have been some similarities between the lead-up to this hurricane season and other big hurricane years, including 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit.

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted 14 to 23 tropical storms this year, including up to seven major hurricanes.

Hurricanes + oil spill = bad equation

A news release from landed in our e-mails today stressing the havoc that could occur if a hurricane or tropical storm entered the oil spill-riddled Gulf of Mexico.

Add a tropical storm into the equation and oil "has the potential to be pushed farther into the Louisiana Delta and into the natural wildlife reserves along the Gulf Coast, the release said.

"There are many factors that need to be considered when predicting what areas could be contaminated by oil. The strength of the tropical storm or hurricane and the exact path of the storm will both determine the spread of the oil and even how much of the oil will be mixed with the water in the Gulf.

"The storm surge created by the hurricane or tropical event will also determine how far inland the oil contamination will occur. A hurricane like Katrina, a Category 4 storm, had a storm surge that reached 12 miles in parts of Mississippi."

Here's a look at the common track of Atlantic-basin storms from July 15-Sept. 15:


Here's a look at the common track of Atlantic-basin storms for the end of hurricane season: