As the depression
approached a break in the subtropical ridge early on 1 August, its
slowed, and the cyclone remained nearly stationary for the next day or so about 115 n mi east-southeast
of Savannah. The depression remained poorly organized initially, due to northeasterly shear and
an environment characterized by subsidence and dry air. However, an upper-level trough was
approaching from the west, and in advance of this trough the northeasterly flow over the
cyclone began to relax. During this transition the depression was able to strengthen, and it
became a tropical storm early on the afternoon of 1 August.
Alex began to move northeastward early on 2
August, taking a track that would slowly approach the
coastline of the Carolinas over the next 36 hours. The northeasterly shear continued to diminish
during the day as upper-level southwesterlies approached. The deep convection, which had
previously been confined to the southwest quadrant of the circulation, was now able to organize
in bands to the east of the center. Alex strengthened, becoming a hurricane just past midnight on 3
August, when it was centered about 65 n mi south-southeast of Cape Fear.
Aided by warm Gulf Stream waters and light
shear, Alex continued to strengthen on 3 August as it
neared the North Carolina Outer Banks. The hurricane's maximum sustained winds reached 100 mph
(category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale) that morning, and the minimum pressure fell to
972 mb early in the afternoon. Alex made its closest approach to land just after noon, with its center
located about 9 n mi southeast of Cape Hatteras, while the western eyewall of the hurricane raked the
Outer Banks with sustained Category 1 hurricane force winds.
After passing the Outer Banks, Alex turned
away from land and accelerated as it became embedded in a
deep layer of west-southwesterly flow. Alex strengthened and became a major hurricane (Category 3) on
the evening of 4 August, with winds of 120 mph and a minimum pressure of 957 mb. At this time Alex
was at 38.5° N (385 n mi south-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia), moving east-northeastward near 25
mph, and over waters just above 26°C - not factors normally associated with major hurricanes. Only
Hurricane Ellen of 1973 attained major hurricane status farther north. While the basic environmental
surroundings around Alex was low in shear, the cause of this unexpected strengthening remains
By late on 5 August Alex had moved north of
the Gulf Stream over sub-20°C waters and
rapidly. Moving at 50 mph, Alex weakened to a tropical storm after midnight on 6 August and became
extratropical a few hours later about 830 n mi east of Cape Race Newfoundland. The circulation of Alex
was absorbed into a larger extratropical low by the evening of 6 August. Below is a track of the cyclone
provided by the National Hurricane Center.
The storm total rainfall map below was constructed using data from
provided from NWS River
Forecast Centers, as well as additional reports received by the National Hurricane Center.
Below are the calendar for Daily Precipitation Maps. Note that
the 24-hour periods end
at 12z that morning.