Dolly intensifying rapidly as it approaches landfall

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:18 PM GMT on July 23, 2008

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Hurricane Dolly is putting on a impressive burst of rapid intensification as it approaches landfall on the Texas coast near Brownsville. Reports from the Hurricane Hunters show that Dolly's pressure is dropping rapidly, down 12 mb in just five hours, to 964 mb (as of the 9:17 am EDT Hurricane Hunter eye report). Dolly's central pressure dropped 15 mb in the 18 hours previous to that, so this is an impressive sudden drop this morning. Radar imagery out of Brownsville, Texas shows an well-organized hurricane, with excellent spiral banding and a 20-mile diameter eye. Visible satellite loops show an impressive eye, excellent upper-level outflow, and good symmetry. It's a good thing Dolly does not have another 24 hours over water, or it would have become a major hurricane. It takes a while for the winds of a hurricane to respond to a rapid pressure fall, and Dolly's winds do not yet reflect the recent big drop in pressure. The peak surface winds measured by the SFMR instrument on the latest Hurricane Hunter mission were 70 knots (81 mph), at 9:17 am EDT. Dolly's winds should rise above 100 mph in the next few hours.


Figure 1. Radar image of Dolly at 6:04 am CDT, several hours before landfall. During a rapid intensification phase as Dolly neared landfall, small "mesovorticies" formed in the eyewall. In the image above, you can see that the eye is distorted by the presence of four of these small vorticies embedded in the eyewall. These vorticies are several kilometers across, and have concentrated areas of very high winds capable of doing much heavier damage than the rest of the eyewall's winds.

The intensity forecast
Dolly should keep intensifying right up until landfall, now just hours away. A Category 2 hurricane is likely at landfall. Once inland, Dolly will decay to tropical storm intensity within six hours.

Links to follow:
Brownsville, TX long range radar
Texas marine forecasts and observations
Brownsville, TX weather
Corpus Christi, TX weather


Figure 2. Evacuation zones for Category 1,2,3,4,5 hurricanes. The city of Brownsville needs to evacuate only for a Category 5 hurricane. Image credit: Texas division of emergency management.

Damage expected from Dolly
It appears portions of Dolly's eyewall will pass directly over the sister cities of Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Storm surge damage will be limited, due to the fact that these cities are 20-25 miles inland from the coast (Figure 2). Dolly's expected storm surge of 4-6 feet will mostly affect uninhabited sections of Padre Island, on the right side of where the 20-mile diameter eye is coming ashore. Wind damage is the primary threat from Dolly, along with flash flooding from heavy rains. Hurricane Bret spawned two damaging tornadoes in the region in 1999, and we can expect Dolly to spawn a few tornadoes as well. I expect considerable wind damage from Dolly, exceeding $100 million.

I'll have an update this afternoon, with a look at the rest of the tropics.

Jeff Masters

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1501. TxAstrosChick
6:24 AM GMT on July 24, 2008
I hope everyone is okay that went through Dolly. I cannot deny that I am glad it did not come further up to Houston/Galveston. This would not have been a good time, lol. I am in the Baytown/Highlands area. We had a bit of rain and nice clouds/wind.

I pray for all those involved.

I lurk and this is the first time posting this year but I read here constantly for the past few years.
1500. hulakai
2:12 AM GMT on July 24, 2008
scrolling down the blog, it appears that the predictors of north (cc/Huston) have retreated.
Let's all tell it like it is, NHC nailed this one. KUDOS to the king. Let's study the intensity blow up. Slow storm, warmer?/shallow water before landfall. Perhaps a disclaimer on intensity is appropriate "NHC predicts this storm will make landfall at XXX, but all interests in the warning area should prepare for XXX+++ due to unpredictable acts of nature." Watcha think?
NHC, esq.
Member Since: August 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 97
1499. IKE
10:57 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
There's a new blog
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1498. fire831rescue
10:57 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Interesting note: Has anyone noticed how the computer models keep predicting 97L to curve up, but in every run, they move further west? Also, what chance does 97L have of developing into a storm at this point?
Member Since: August 18, 2007 Posts: 5 Comments: 1807
1497. hosweather
10:36 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
I like this link for the big picture.
1496. Malachai
10:13 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Don't usually contribute, but I had printed out the Computer models for Dolly for the 10am update on Monday, and three of the computer models intersected at the coastline only 15 miles north of the actual northern eyewall location. I'm sorry now that I didn't save the pic, but as much as we dog the models at times around here, depite all of Dolly's aberrations, they had the target nailed pretty closely two full days ago. In Pearland here and we have received repeated drenchings throughout the day here and at the Village in Houston. Needed it. Darn new Oregon Scientific NOAA radio isn't picking up the alerts properly, though.
1494. Patrap
8:46 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
NEXRAD Radar
Brownsville, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 248 NMI 30 frame Loop Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
1493. Patrap
8:44 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
GOM IR loop Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
1492. Chicklit
8:15 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
This is kinda cool.
Link
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11267
1491. bekroweather
8:13 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Houston downtown gets some strong rain bands now
1490. Thunderfoot
8:10 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting PrettyLove23:
Thanks for the info guys!

Wish she'd move North.

Someone do a rain dance for us North Texans!!


How far north? I might have to dust off my taps.

J/k
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 124
1489. TexasGurl
8:08 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting setfree7:
I don't think we're getting any of Dolly up here. Too bad, we could use the rain.
Quoting PrettyLove23:
Thanks for the info guys!

Wish she'd move North.

Someone do a rain dance for us North Texans!!
Im here in fort worth...we need some rain bad too!
1488. sccoastarea
8:08 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Press, Did you ever ride out a hurricane in your boat? Just curious....Not being a S/A about it either.
Member Since: July 14, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 143
1487. TheCaneWhisperer
7:59 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
1477

my pleasure. I fortunately have had breaks in my action through the day today.
1486. setfree7
7:57 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Harlingen is getting hammered now with the WSW side of the storm over them.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 281
1485. setfree7
7:56 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
north side of eye is over Port mansfield.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 281
1483. PrettyLove23
7:56 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
We sure couls Setfree. We'll just stick to prayers.
1482. Canesinlowplaces
7:54 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Houstonian and Alexking sound like they are lovers. Maybe they should go out on a date and leave the blog a little less cluttered.

I had high hopes of watching 97l develop over the Atlantic, but I guess we'll have to wait on the next one. However, SSTs are supposed to be more favorable in a few days. I think the Doc mentioned something about this in yesterday's blog.
Member Since: July 12, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 133
1481. setfree7
7:53 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
i'd rather just leave town.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 281
1480. presslord
7:53 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
I'm not talking about the sort of boat one would dock at a "yacht club"....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
1479. presslord
7:52 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
"atmo-geek" is now my new favorite word....lol... :)
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1478. DallasGumby
7:52 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting Michfan:
Quoting presslord:
Dallas ...I got flamed in here recently for saying exactly that...thanks for the back up...


Alot of people have used the Intercoastal Waterway in Florida as a good means of riding out a storm in a boat.
I've fished a bunch in Destin in late summer and had this very discussion with the boat captains. They swear the mainland side of the barrier islands is safer than anywhere else, and it keeps their boat on top of the water!
Member Since: August 22, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 376
1477. PrettyLove23
7:52 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:
Quoting PrettyLove23:
Has the eye made landfall yet?


Sorry the image didn't take



Thank you very much!
DOn't have time to reasearch at work, lol.
1476. charlieb2120
7:52 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting o22sail:
Quoting cctexgal:
You used to be able to get good helpful info on this site like in 2005 but now its just chest pounding, "I know more than you" and "I told you so" competition.
and how fast you can "ignore" people. Esp when so many people are affected by these storms and want info; Sad

I agree. It is not the same and less interesting with the never ending atmo-geek war going on.


That type of behavior was bound to increase as this blog becomes more popular....all types of characters out there

1474. setfree7
7:51 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
I don't think we're getting any of Dolly up here. Too bad, we could use the rain.
Quoting PrettyLove23:
Thanks for the info guys!

Wish she'd move North.

Someone do a rain dance for us North Texans!!
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 281
1473. Michfan
7:50 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting o22sail:
Quoting cctexgal:
You used to be able to get good helpful info on this site like in 2005 but now its just chest pounding, "I know more than you" and "I told you so" competition.
and how fast you can "ignore" people. Esp when so many people are affected by these storms and want info; Sad

I agree. It is not the same and less interesting with the never ending atmo-geek war going on.


Set the filter to Show Bad and it will filter out alot of the BS.
Member Since: September 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1679
1471. Barkeep1967
7:50 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting Michfan:
Quoting presslord:
Dallas ...I got flamed in here recently for saying exactly that...thanks for the back up...


Alot of people have used the Intercoastal Waterway in Florida as a good means of riding out a storm in a boat.


Have fun with that. I don't care if they say it's safer or not I will pass.
Member Since: June 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 207
1470. presslord
7:50 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
depending on the boat, the ground tackle, and the location I would not necessarily be afraid of riding one out aboard...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
1469. PrettyLove23
7:49 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Thanks for the info guys!

Wish she'd move North.

Someone do a rain dance for us North Texans!!
1468. TheCaneWhisperer
7:49 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting PrettyLove23:
Has the eye made landfall yet?


Sorry the image didn't take

1466. Michfan
7:48 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting presslord:
Dallas ...I got flamed in here recently for saying exactly that...thanks for the back up...


Alot of people have used the Intercoastal Waterway in Florida as a good means of riding out a storm in a boat.
Member Since: September 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1679
1465. Barkeep1967
7:47 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting texmex:
Quoting Barkeep1967:
Quoting bigdoge3:
Im just north of galveston in friendswood and it just got very cloudy here and the wind picking up i think we got alot of rain on the way looking at the radar



You folks really need it though right ?


We sure do! I hope some of the moisture out in the gulf makes its way into Houston/Galveston soon, we sure need it. The storms seem to dissipate before they hit Galveston; I'm noticing they are making their way into Louisiana... wonder if our Houston air is more stable?



Well it looks like some of these bands are going to make it to you. I hope it works out.


Member Since: June 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 207
1464. o22sail
7:47 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting cctexgal:
You used to be able to get good helpful info on this site like in 2005 but now its just chest pounding, "I know more than you" and "I told you so" competition.
and how fast you can "ignore" people. Esp when so many people are affected by these storms and want info; Sad

I agree. It is not the same and less interesting with the never ending atmo-geek war going on.
Member Since: August 27, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 122
1463. presslord
7:46 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Dallas ...I got flamed in here recently for saying exactly that...thanks for the back up...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
1462. NOLAWatcher
7:46 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting hondaguy:
BR>
People often guess that I want to be out on the beach when a hurricane is hitting, and that's about as far from the truth as you can get. I want to be in a sturdy building at least 40 feet above sea level or more than 50 miles inland. :-)



And no windows. The tornados during Lily and Cindy had me in the windowless hallway, with the laptop on battery to watch the radar. Always amazes me when people express how exciting it must be to ride out a hurricane.
1461. setfree7
7:45 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
yep, now they have to deal with the east side of the eye, although not as intense i don't think.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 281
1460. DallasGumby
7:44 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting presslord:
"I was reading on CNN a report of someone riding it out on a boat!?! "

not as dumb as you might think.....there's an argument to be made that it's safer than staying on the 7th floor of some hotel.....
Correct! Talk to a Gulf Coast fisherman, and the odds are that he will head to the intracoastal waterway with his boat and keep it faced into the wind. Wouldn't want to do that in the open Gulf, but on the Laguna Madre it makes sense.
Member Since: August 22, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 376
1459. TheCaneWhisperer
7:44 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting PrettyLove23:
Has the eye made landfall yet?


Yes, on South Padre and making second landfall on the mainland as I type.

http://weather.cod.edu/analysis/paulradar.pl?BRO
1458. charlieb2120
7:43 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
yes prettylove, she onshore now.
1457. sporteguy03
7:43 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Hey 23,
Yes it has the Eastern Eyewall is now moving in. That is the back side of the storm.
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5255
1456. setfree7
7:42 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
yes, about 1pm
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 281
1454. Michfan
7:42 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Quoting presslord:
Cantore just made a great point...everybody who chose not to evac S Padre thought it was gonna be a tropical storm...now they're in the nmiddle of a Cat 2 cane...science can only do so much....


Problem is people don't inform themselves enough. Alot of people were saying yesterday that this had the potential to intensify to hurricane strength to include the NHC.
Member Since: September 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1679
1453. PrettyLove23
7:41 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Has the eye made landfall yet?

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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.

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