As of 5A EDT this morning, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Tropical Depression One to Tropical Storm Alex. A hurricane hunter aircraft found flight-level winds of 46kts and satellite-derived near-surface winds were estimated to be 35kts. With those two indicators, and given the storm’s organization, the 2010 season’s first tropical storm has officially formed.
Alex’s center is currently located at 17.0N, 85.3W. His maximum sustained winds are 40mph; moving WNW @ 8mph. His central pressure is ~1004mb.
Not much has changed for T.S. Alex’s projected track or intensity for the next few days. He is expected to continue moving WNW to NW over the next three days. Given his current position – north of Honduras in the western Caribbean – this will take Alex over either Belize or the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. While over land, Alex will weaken back into a Tropical Depression. The official track forecast has Alex entering the Gulf of Mexico sometime Monday morning, then continuing more or less in the same direction through Wednesday. Beyond that, the track guidance is still a little split, but a lot more of them keep Alex in the western Gulf than in the eastern Gulf than was the case yesterday.
Once Alex re-emerges over water, he should reintensify from a Tropical Depression back into a Tropical Storm. Landfall could occur along the Mexican coast later in the week as a Tropical Storm.
In the meantime, Alex is dumping plenty of rain in Central America. With inches of rain falling per hour in the heaviest rainbands, flash flooding will be the primary threat to residents there.