Dolly a significant threat to Texas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:54 PM GMT on July 21, 2008

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Tropical Storm Dolly has emerged over the Gulf of Mexico after a short passage over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and is already beginning to organize. Dolly will potentially be a dangerous hurricane for Texas and northern Mexico. Satellite loops show a large and expanding circulation, with good upper-level outflow developing to the west and north. The surface circulation is not well formed yet. Dolly's intense thunderstorms lie mainly to the north of the center, and these thunderstorms brought heavy rains of 4-6" to the Cayman Islands yesterday. Dolly's heaviest rains passed through the Yucatan Channel last night and this morning. Rainfall amounts were less than four inches over Cancun, Cozumel, and Western Cuba. Winds were only 40-50 mph over this region, so there should have been little damage.


Figure 1. Current satellite image of Dolly.

The intensity forecast
The upper-level low that interfered with Dolly for so long has now moved away and weakened, and is no longer an issue. Wind shear over Dolly is essentially zero, and expected to remain below five knots over the next 2-3 days. Dolly will be over waters of 28-29°C. These SSTs are slightly below average for this time of year, but plenty warm enough to support Dolly intensifying into a hurricane before landfall. These warm waters extend to a moderate depth, with a Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential of about 40 kJ/cm**2. This is below the value of 80 usually associated with rapid intensification, but still high enough to allow Dolly to strengthen into a major hurricane, if it has enough time to do so. Our skill in making intensity forecasts is poor, but it currently appears that Dolly only has enough time to intensify into a Category 1 or 2 hurricane. I give a 10% chance that Dolly will go through a burst of rapid intensification shortly before landfall and achieve major hurricane status at landfall.

The track forecast
The surface center of Dolly is reforming a bit further to the north of the storm, near the heaviest thunderstorm activity. This will require a northward adjustment to the track forecast, increasing the danger to Texas. The models are pretty united in forecasting a track towards the Texas/Mexico border over the next two days, with a decrease in forward speed. Some significant uncertainty creeps into the forecast for Wednesday, when steering currents weaken and the models have differing solutions on the orientation and strength of the ridge of high pressure steering Dolly. The latest GFDL and HWRF models runs from 2 am EDT this morning have shifted significantly north, bringing Dolly ashore near Corpus Christi, Texas. The GFDL shows a very large borderline Category 1/2 hurricane, with tropical storm force winds extending from Galveston to Brownsville at landfall. Dolly will probably grow quite large and affect a 200-mile stretch of coast with tropical storm-force winds. Like her namesake, actress Dolly Parton, Dolly the tropical cyclone appears destined to become a media star.

Links to follow:
Cancun, Mexico radar
Texas marine forecasts and observations
Brownsville, TX weather

Cristobal
Tropical Storm Cristobal continues to chug along the U.S. East Coast after dropping welcome rains over the eastern portion of North Carolina yesterday. rainfall amounts of 1-2 inches were common, with a few isolated areas of four inches (Figure 2). Cristobal did little or no damage to the state, and the rains and wind of Cristobal have left North Carolina.

Cristobal will continue to the northeast today, and it currently appears that the rains of the storm will affect only the right side of its path, bringing little rain to Nantucket Island, southeastern Massachusetts, and coastal Maine. The storm could bring tropical storm force winds and heavy rains in excess of four inches to Nova Scotia. The combination of cooler waters, moderate wind shear, and dry air should prevent Cristobal from ever reaching hurricane strength. Cristobal will transition to an extratropical storm as it approaches Canada, and some of the models suggest that this system will rotate around the Bermuda High and head southward in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean late this week. There is a small chance that Cristobal would get born again as a tropical storm if it makes a complete circuit and passes over warmer water again.

Links to follow:
Nantucket Island, Massachusetts


Figure 2. Radar estimated rainfall over North Carolina from Tropical Storm Cristobal.

2008 Hurricane season notables
July 19, 2008, marked the first time on record that three July tropical storms were active on the same day in the Atlantic. Bertha, Cristobal, and Dolly were all tropical storms yesterday. Thanks to Margie Kieper for checking on this stat for me.

July 2008 already ranks 5th all-time for number of July named storms (three), and 4th all-time for the amount of Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE)--30 ACE units. Only 2005 (60.4 ACE units), 1916 (48.5 ACE units) and 1933 (34.0 ACE units) had more. All three of these years had at least five major hurricanes and were exceptionally active. Thanks go to Dr. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State for compiling this stat.

Bertha: longest-lived July hurricane on record (and the longest-lived hurricane so early in the season). Bertha was a hurricane 7.75 days, which eclipses the previous record of 7 days held by Hurricane Emily of 2005.

Bertha: longest-lived tropical storm on record for July (and for so early in the season), 17.25 Named Storm Days (NSD). Bertha was the fourth longest lived named storm since 1950 to have formed in any month (trailing Ginger (1971) - 21.25 NSD, Carrie (1957) - 19.50 NSD, and Alberto (2000) - 19.25 NSD).

Bertha: farthest east forming tropical storm and hurricane for so early in the season.

Elsewhere in the tropics
There's no sign that this year's unusually early and active hurricane season is going to slow down. Three of our four reliable computer models continue to predict that a strong tropical wave about to emerge off the coast of Africa tonight will develop into a tropical depression later this week. This wave, located over Senegal (15N 15W), has a very strong rotation and a large circulation. Once it moves over the Atlantic, water temperatures that are up to 2°C above average for this time of year should allow this wave to develop.

I'll have an update later today.

Jeff Masters

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1963. FranAteMyRoof96
2:22 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
Looks like Dolly is going to have to shrink alot to strengthen over the next day or so. That anticyclone spread the convection out so far, she's going to lose alot of girth. Only the NW side is really firing now. And yes, I realize we're just past DMIN.
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1962. FranAteMyRoof96
2:17 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
However, in terms of the TW coming off the coast of Africa, it's convection got destroyed pretty dramatically earlier today (probably by SAL). Still has a vigorous circulation, but it's pretty bare. Wait and see what happens over the next few days.
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1961. FranAteMyRoof96
2:14 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
1954. weathers4me
Any word on Eduard coming off Africa? Is he supposed to be a fish or CONUS strom?


The word is, there is no such storm as "Edouard" as yet. Be patient.
Member Since: July 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 198
1960. Tejano72
2:02 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
Go to this link I posted and tell me you don't see an eye clear out, and turn almost due north at a slower speed. If I am wrong, tell me why. Looks 12-15 nm wide.

http://www.esl.lsu.edu/webpics/AOI/AOI2_ir_loop.gif
1959. Tejano72
1:57 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
Looks to be taking a deep breath. I see an eye at 24W94N headed NNW at 9 mph. Samiam I agree.

http://www.esl.lsu.edu/webpics/AOI/AOI2_ir_loop.gif
1958. Cavin Rawlins
1:17 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
Dolly sure is fillin the whole gulf of mexico

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1957. Randyman
1:06 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
The consensus of the very latest computer models have shifted somewhat to the south with a west-southwesterly turn over South Texas or Northern Mexico in 4 to 5 days. We shall see.
Member Since: July 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 222
1956. weathers4me
12:48 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
Could be interesting to see that the BH will do for the rest of the season. If it stay hyperactive like this and the BH changes positions we could be in a similar situation like 2005 as far as steering goes. IMO
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1955. Stoopid1
12:45 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
Quoting weathers4me:
Any word on Eduard coming off Africa? Is he supposed to be a fish or CONUS strom?


Hard to say at this point. It's a wait and see. I personally think it will come much closer than Bertha did, though.
Member Since: August 6, 2007 Posts: 24 Comments: 2694
1954. weathers4me
12:38 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
Any word on Eduard coming off Africa? Is he supposed to be a fish or CONUS strom?
Member Since: May 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 118
1953. jamnkats
12:30 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
Quoting Whatever98:
Still looking for a hit south of Brownsville as a minimal cat 2 Wednesday morning. I think people will finally be impressed with Dolly when they wake up in the morning and see an eye and decent structure. I would much rather the thing follow the NHC track into King Ranch though.


It looks to me like she already has an eye.
1952. 7544
12:28 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
dolly is sure doing what we said yesterday she spreading out to cover the whole gom with mositure and cloud cover in all directions looks wild
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1951. samiam1234
12:21 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
well looks like its been heading due West the last three hours and its only about 300 miles from Landfall.. I think there is a higher probability of the eye making a Mexico landfall... any opinions..
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1950. Daveg
12:20 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
Quoting leelee75k:
center check please, just want to make sure we're all looking at the same thing

I got it around 23.7N 91.8W almost at 92W already and getting close to 24N to make it simpler and imo seems to be quite on course with the forecast plot just a little faster.

oh and for those thinking a more northern track, umm how far north (name a city or something) I think South Padre Island will be closest to the center of whatever Dolly is when she makes landfall.


At this point, watching the movement, I'd go more in between Corpus and South Padre, leaning more toward Corpus. She's definitely moving more north than west.

Watching with interest from up here in Austin. I spend quite a lot of time down at S. Padre. One thing is for sure, as long as she doesn't get to strong, we sure could use the rain.
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1949. LAnovice
12:02 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
Quoting amd:
Quoting LAnovice:
Can someone explain to me why we are still seeing WNW winds at 21.5N and 93 W when the center is north and west of these coordinates? (Last recon I saw ...)
Thanks

I think the center is near 23.5 North 92 West, so at 21.5 N and 93 West, you would have winds coming wnw and then turning west as the storm hits 93 West.

Thanks - but wouldn't the winds be wsw at the very minimum - it's the north wind component that I don't understand... (again - a novice - thanks for at least answering - your the first in many posts - thanks !


in the northern hemisphere, winds with south headings occur with low pressure when the lows past west of a certain point. For instance, when hurricane katrina hit southern mississippi, north winds were affecting Louisiana, while southern winds were affecting Alabama.

So, if the center was at 23.5 North and 94 West instead of near 23.5 North and 92 West, then there would be a wsw heading.

Thanks - I was OFF on the coordinates... now I see - appreciate the explanation.
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1948. stormwatcherTX
12:02 AM GMT on July 22, 2008
Quoting LuvsStorms:
Quoting CoastalTX:
What screwed the pooch on the Rita? They were attemtping to evacuation 1.5 million folks from the coastal areas - and 2.5 million more decided to join in the great exodus. It took me 19 hours to get from Dickinson (near Galveston) to the north side of Houston. People that lived 60 miles inland were panicking, and trying to get to San Antonio, Dallas, etc... Images of Katrina still floating in their heads


I live 110 miles inland,I hung around for Rita...never again. People tend to forget about a storm as soon as it makes landfall. It takes some storms a couple hundred miles to run out of hurricane force winds. Just ask the folks in Hattiesubrg MS about their winds off of Katrina. That far inland I was without power 10 days. I experienced that storm all night long...was TERRIFIED!!! Trees were falling everywhere. Never again, I will evacuate


Indeed, and threat of flooding and Tornado's was enough risk for Houstonians to get up and go. Houston is of course no stranger to flooding!
1947. gulfscout
11:59 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
katrina that is
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1946. philliesrock
11:58 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
18z GFDL forecasting a cat. 2 hurricane with an extremely large eye.
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1945. gulfscout
11:58 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
With apologies to the Mets here: My frustration was due to the fact that my area was asked to evacuate and after dealing with a aweful, hellish evacuation, I came back to a home that had been robbed clean. The storm never came but still lost everything.Perhaps it was not the NHC as it was county officals on edge a month after rita making a snap decison too soon. One other effect of this is that a poll conducted last year by one of the media outlets showed more then half of the people in the Houston area would not evacuate if another storm was approaching.
Member Since: August 19, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 342
1944. amd
11:57 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Quoting LAnovice:
Can someone explain to me why we are still seeing WNW winds at 21.5N and 93 W when the center is north and west of these coordinates? (Last recon I saw ...)
Thanks

I think the center is near 23.5 North 92 West, so at 21.5 N and 93 West, you would have winds coming wnw and then turning west as the storm hits 93 West.

Thanks - but wouldn't the winds be wsw at the very minimum - it's the north wind component that I don't understand... (again - a novice - thanks for at least answering - your the first in many posts - thanks !


in the northern hemisphere, winds with south headings occur with low pressure when the lows past west of a certain point. For instance, when hurricane katrina hit southern mississippi, north winds were affecting Louisiana, while southern winds were affecting Alabama.

So, if the center was at 23.5 North and 94 West instead of near 23.5 North and 92 West, then there would be a wsw heading.
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1943. nolesjeff
11:57 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Link

new blog
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1942. philliesrock
11:56 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
D-max will be interesting tonight. This thing is actually increasing convection during d-min.
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1941. bayoubrotha
11:56 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Pressure dropping ... now 1000mb.

4 mb in 3 hours
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1940. moonlightcowboy
11:55 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
I got to thinking about something K'man said earlier about the rainfall they had gotten from Dolly in a short period of time. I think he said that in one day there he'd gotten six inches in his rain gauge.

I know many parts of TX are prone to flooding. The rainfall may have more punch than winds or storm surge, although I'm still not discounting the threat of a potentially serious storm yet.

So, areas other than just coastal I hope and should be preparing for what may be a major rainfall maker.

Areas around the coc that passed just east of Cancun offshore reflect rainfall amounts of over 11 inches in the past 24 hours. Even the outermost rainbands seem to produce amounts in excess of two inches in some areas.



LARGER VIEW
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1939. IcemanMC
11:55 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
452.......Breeze out of E, not dead calm for this time of year
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1938. Whatever98
11:53 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
[quote]Wow....I wouldnt expect this 4 hours ago.[/quote]

So I assume you're not taking that bet anymore? ;)
1937. Stormchaser2007
11:52 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Quoting extreme236:
Dolly now moving at 16mph


Down a Whole 2mph!! ( sarcastic )
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1936. nrtiwlnvragn
11:52 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
18Z HWRF
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1934. mississippiwx23
11:51 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
My guess is we won't see much of an oil spike from this storm. It isn't going to go through the main oil fields. And right now, it doesn't look too strong either.
Member Since: August 20, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 683
1933. BajaALemt
11:51 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
New Blog
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1932. nrtiwlnvragn
11:51 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
18Z GFDL
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1931. duprk452
11:51 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
iceman... nice breeze?? I dont see it anywhere.. sure wish i did though!
Member Since: September 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 137
1930. Whatever98
11:50 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Still looking for a hit south of Brownsville as a minimal cat 2 Wednesday morning. I think people will finally be impressed with Dolly when they wake up in the morning and see an eye and decent structure. I would much rather the thing follow the NHC track into King Ranch though.
1929. extreme236
11:50 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Dolly now moving at 16mph
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
1928. bekroweather
11:50 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
WTNT34 KNHC 212349
TCPAT4
BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM DOLLY INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 6A
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL042008
700 PM CDT MON JUL 21 2008

...DOLLY GETTING BETTER ORGANIZED AS IT JOGS WESTWARD...

A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FROM RIO SAN FERNANDO MEXICO
NORTHWARD...ACROSS THE BORDER BETWEEN MEXICO AND THE UNITED
STATES...AND ALONG THE TEXAS COAST TO PORT O'CONNOR. A HURRICANE
WATCH MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH
AREA...GENERALLY WITHIN 36 HOURS.

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR THE COAST OF MEXICO FROM LA
PESCA NORTHWARD TO SOUTH OF RIO SAN FERNANDO...AND FOR THE TEXAS
COAST FROM NORTH OF PORT O'CONNOR TO SAN LUIS PASS. A TROPICAL
STORM WATCH MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE
WITHIN THE WATCH AREA...GENERALLY WITHIN 36 HOURS.

WARNINGS WILL LIKELY BE REQUIRED FOR PORTIONS OF THE WATCH AREAS
LATER TONIGHT.

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...INCLUDING POSSIBLE
INLAND WATCHES AND WARNINGS...PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED
BY YOUR LOCAL WEATHER OFFICE.

AT 700 PM CDT...0000Z...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM DOLLY WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 23.1 NORTH...LONGITUDE 91.8 WEST OR ABOUT 380
MILES...610 KM...EAST OF LA CRUZ MEXICO AND ABOUT 405 MILES...650
KM...EAST-SOUTHEAST OF BROWNSVILLE TEXAS.

OVER THE PAST FEW HOURS DOLLY HAS BEEN MOVING TOWARD THE WEST NEAR
16 MPH...25 KM/HR. HOWEVER...A GENERAL WEST-NORTHWESTWARD MOTION
IS EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS...WITH A GRADUAL
DECREASE IN FORWARD SPEED. ON THIS TRACK...THE CENTER OF DOLLY WILL
BE MOVING OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN GULF OF MEXICO TONIGHT AND
TUESDAY...AND WILL BE NEAR THE WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO COAST BY
WEDNESDAY.

SATELLITE IMAGES INDICATE THAT DOLLY IS BECOMING BETTER ORGANIZED...
ALTHOUGH THE MAXIMUM WINDS REMAIN NEAR NEAR 50 MPH...85 KM/HR...
WITH HIGHER GUSTS. GRADUAL STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST...AND DOLLY IS
EXPECTED TO BECOME A HURRICANE BEFORE REACHING THE WESTERN GULF OF
MEXICO COAST.

TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 175 MILES...280 KM
FROM THE CENTER.

THE ESTIMATE MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 1000 MB...29.53 INCHES.

DOLLY IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAIN ACCUMULATIONS OF TWO TO FOUR
INCHES ACROSS THE NORTHERN YUCATAN PENINSULA OF MEXICO WITH
ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS UP TO SIX INCHES.

REPEATING THE 700 PM CDT POSITION...23.1 N...91.8 W. MOVEMENT
TOWARD...WEST NEAR 16 MPH. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...50
MPH. MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1000 MB.

THE NEXT ADVISORY WILL BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL
HURRICANE CENTER AT 1000 PM CDT.

$$
FORECASTER FRANKLIN
1927. leelee75k
11:50 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
center check please, just want to make sure we're all looking at the same thing

I got it around 23.7N 91.8W almost at 92W already and getting close to 24N to make it simpler and imo seems to be quite on course with the forecast plot just a little faster.

oh and for those thinking a more northern track, umm how far north (name a city or something) I think South Padre Island will be closest to the center of whatever Dolly is when she makes landfall.
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1926. Stormchaser2007
11:49 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Wow....I wouldnt expect this 4 hours ago.

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1924. LAnovice
11:48 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Can someone explain to me why we are still seeing WNW winds at 21.5N and 93 W when the center is north and west of these coordinates? (Last recon I saw ...)
Thanks

I think the center is near 23.5 North 92 West, so at 21.5 N and 93 West, you would have winds coming wnw and then turning west as the storm hits 93 West.

Thanks - but wouldn't the winds be wsw at the very minimum - it's the north wind component that I don't understand... (again - a novice - thanks for at least answering - your the first in many posts - thanks !
_ Modified - I see now - I picked up a more westerly coordinate.... thought it was 93.0w plus....
Member Since: September 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 361
1923. futuremet
11:46 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Quoting Tazmanian:
here comes $6.00 gas


don't say that taz. 4 dollars is bad enough lol.

However, it is likely the gas prices will increase due to the fact that texas produces vast amounts of oil. How much the price will rise depends on where and how strong Dolly hits
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1922. Zaphod
11:45 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Consider it an honor for Prof Goose to post here. He's the "Jeff Masters" of The Oil Drum site, and a superbly knowledgeable man about all things fossil-fuel related.

That site, like this one, is all about information and not for the faint of heart. Go spend some time there when you want to know why oil prices are so high....but make sure you REALLY want to know.

As a reverse honor, this site is the link weather info site from there as well.
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1921. extreme236
11:45 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Nothing much thats new from Recon yet...waiting for a vortex pass.
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1920. amd
11:44 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
recon has just shifted from flying at ~2400 m to less than ~500 m. Now we will see if the pressure is truly at 998 mb.
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1919. Patrap
11:44 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Hurricane Preparation

Naval Safety Center
Link

LT Jason Dalby, VFA-86

With hurricane season upon us again, it's time to dust off that family disaster plan, or in many cases, create one. Keeping your family safe during a hurricane starts with proper planning. One in six Americans live along the eastern seaboard or the Gulf of Mexico, making hurricane preparation a must for many and their families.



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1918. Tazmanian
11:44 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
thanks 236
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1916. BahaHurican
11:44 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Quoting redwagon:
She just said first hurricane of the season, again!
Is it Steph. Abrams?
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21595
1915. Levi32
11:44 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
1905.

No clue. I have great respect for Dr. Lyons, he's the only good met left on TWC. I really don't know what he's talking about though.

Skipping over the intensity part of it.....if Dolly slows down that would mean weaker steering currents due to a weakening high, or Dolly approaching the edge of the high. This would favor her turning more to the north, not to the west. As far as intensity goes, conditions aren't really going to change for Dolly, so it's basically just a matter of how much time she has over water. That's basically it.
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1914. Tazmanian
11:43 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
236 any thing new from the recon all so can you say some about my commet at post 1902 thanks
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1913. bayoubrotha
11:43 PM GMT on July 21, 2008
Convection really starting to wrap around the center.

Whatever happens, Dolly will offer a good case study for hurricane specialists on the subject of short term intensification, i.e, what factors in her case either contributed to it or inhibitted it.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.