All but officially offical that Alex is a hurricane
June 29, 2010
The Hurricane Hunters have yet so sample the northeast quadrant of Alex, where the strongest winds are located as they opted to enter the storm through the northwest quadrant. I believe this was because they wanted to get a feel for how far out tropical storm force winds extended towards the coast. Just after passing through the center, winds very near hurricane force were observed. However, the center fix report had a more important piece of data:
URNT12 KNHC 300040 VORTEX DATA MESSAGE AL012010 A. 30/00:17:20Z B. 22 deg 57 min N 094 deg 23 min W C. 850 mb 1191 m D. 47 kt E. 293 deg 6 nm F. 021 deg 52 kt G. 297 deg 7 nm H. 973 mb I. 20 C / 1521 m J. 22 C / 1523 m K. 17 C / NA L. OPEN NW M. C8 N. 12345 / 08 O. 0.02 / 1.5 nm P. AF303 1001A ALEX OB 05 MAX FL WIND 52 KT NW QUAD 00:15:10Z MAX OUTBOUND FL WIND 60 KT SE QUAD 00:19:30Z
The two bold-faced lines report the presence of an eye, 8 nautical miles in radius, with the eyewall open to the northwest. As the National Hurricane Center works under the principle that hurricanes have eyes and tropical storms do not, Alex will be upgraded to a hurricane.
The other noteworthy information from the center fix was the position it gave for the center; a little bit south of the position estimated in the 7 PM intermediate advisory. It confirms my earlier suspicion that Alex is headed even more westward than before. Based on this, I would expect the centerline of the forecast for the 10 PM advisory to shift to the south 30 nautical miles or so, implying landfall near 24.4N 98W. Moving it more south than that could be justified, however, the NHC tends to favor continuity and gradual changes to the forecast rather than more abrupt ones.
I’ll have another post when the 10 PM advisory package comes out. Here’s an image of Alex right about the time the center fix ocurred