Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Alex Nearing Hurricane Strength

Despite the normal computer model guidance flip-flopping of the last few days, the general trend of expecting the center of Alex to move across Northern Mexico (as reflected in my original post a few days ago) appears to be coming more certain.  The ridge of high pressure that was expected to build over the central & southern U.S. is indeed doing so, which will turn Alex more toward the West/Northwest rather than North/Northwest track over the next 24-36 hours.  

The latest National Hurricane Center forecast track reflects the above thinking, with the center of the storm expected to strike land in Northern Mexico sometime before 1am on Thursday morning, central time:

It would be an error to focus solely on where the center of the storm will make landfall, as its reach will extend far from the center.  Certainly the strongest, (likely hurricane force by that time), winds will take place near and immediately surrounding the center, however tropical storm force winds currently extend outward over 170 miles from the center.  On the current forecast track, this means that widespread tropical storm force winds can be expected well into the Rio Grande  Valley of far South Texas.

Alex is currently still classified as a tropical storm.  I suspect he will be upgraded to a hurricane by the next advisory this evening.  Another Air Force Reconnaissance flight will pass through the storm around 7pm Central Time.  The data obtained by that flight will likely determine an intensification to hurricane strength, based on what we're seeing on satellite imagery (like the one at the top of this post). 

Alex will also spread heavy rainfall well into central and south Texas throughout the end of the week.  Summer rains from tropical systems can be both beneficial and hazardous, depending on how much flooding takes place as a result.  It is literally a mixed blessing.

No comments: