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    Anticipating Alex and Its Impact in the Gulf of Mexico

    By By Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist
    June 25, 2010, 1:29:46 PM EDT

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    Meteorologists in the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center are gearing up for what is likely to be the Atlantic basin's first tropical storm or hurricane over the next several days. Regardless of the track of the feature, there will be some trouble in the oil slick area next week.

    A zone of disturbed weather in the western Caribbean Sea as of Friday afternoon tracking west-northwestward through the weekend is the focus of most of their attention. Hurricane hunter aircraft are investigating the area of disturbed weather at this time.

    A northward turn of this feature would be of great concern for oil slick and Katrina anguished areas of the central Gulf Coast.

    However, while this track and landfall Tuesday to Wednesday of next week is still a possibility for this area, it does not appear to be the most likely at this point.

    Climatology favors a northward and then northeastward curve next week, after the system emerges from the waters surrounding the Yucatan Peninsula.


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    The current weather pattern, on the other hand, does not favor this track. Steering currents and a blocking area of high pressure to the north would drive the system more toward the Texas/northern Mexico coast Tuesday into Wednesday.

    A window of "unfortunate opportunity" may open up early next week, allowing the tropical feature to take the northern path. If it misses this turn-off ramp, it is likely to get shoved westward by the already stronger-than-usual easterlies in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic.

    There is also a possibility the easterlies weaken, leaving the tropical storm or hurricane abandoned, or stalled, in the west-central Gulf of Mexico for a time.

    We can all entertain our worst fears if this system takes the traditional northward fork in the road. There certainly has been tremendous speculation on "what if" the oil slick is thrown onshore by just about every media outlet.

    Expected Conditions in the Gulf This Weekend, Next Week


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    Stifling heat over the northern Gulf of Mexico will be the issue for crews during much of the weekend.

    However, conditions from Sunday through the middle of the week are likely to become progressively more stormy and disruptive.

    There is more than one feature in the Caribbean, and a tropical wave is likely to be drawn northeastward by the developing circulation near the Yucatan.

    As our main tropical feature moves over the Yucatan, look for the tropical wave to the east to cause clusters of thunderstorms to blossom over part of the central and eastern Gulf of Mexico beginning Sunday.

    These thunderstorms alone can cause gusty winds and rough seas locally in the vicinity of the oil slick containment and drilling operations.

    The track of the anticipated tropical storm or hurricane next week will influence wave action and how nasty things get for drilling, containment and cleanup operations.

    A more distant track over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico would mean fewer problems for the northern Gulf, but still some hazards as swells radiate outward from the storm.

    A more northward track or even a potential stall of the tropical storm or hurricane over the central Gulf of Mexico would mean building waves, squalls, and gusty winds ranging from hours to days. These conditions could halt operations for an extended period.

    People from the entire Atlantic coast of Mexico, northward to Texas, Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle, need to monitor this situation. AccuWeather.com will issue updates through the weekend.

    Even landfall of a tropical storm or minimal hurricane can bring a serious threat from flooding. The circulation of such a storm can still drive oil into nearby, yet untouched, coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Unfortunately, it is just the start of what appears to be a long hurricane and "worry" season ahead.

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