Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:55 PM GMT on July 23, 2008
Hurricane Dolly smashed ashore on the South Texas coast on Padre Island early this afternoon, bringing 100 mph winds and a storm surge of 6-8 feet to the coast. The southern edge of the eyewall is now battering Harlingen, where sustained winds of 56 mph, gusting to 74 mph, have been observed. Reports from the Hurricane Hunters show that Dolly's pressure is now rising, and radar imagery out of Brownsville, Texas confirms that the storm is starting to weaken. Visible satellite loops show the eye is starting to deteriorate, though Dolly still looks plenty impressive.
Figure 1. Hurricane Dolly at landfall.
Links to follow:
Brownsville, TX long range radar
Brownsville, TX weather
Harlingen, Texas weather
Corpus Christi, TX weather
Damage expected from Dolly
The southern portion of Dolly's eyewall passed over the town of South Padre Island, located on the coast on a barrier island. Wind damage from Dolly will be heaviest here. The sister cities of Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, missed getting the eyewall, but did get gusts near hurricane force. Damage to roofs and mobile homes has already been reported in these regions. Harlingen, located 25 miles inland and 20 miles north of Brownsville, is getting a portion of the southern eyewall, and will suffer more damage than Brownsville. There are a few tiny towns on Laguna Madre, the sound behind Padre Island, that received the full force of Dolly. These towns, Port Mansfield and Arroyo City, will receive heavy wind damage and some storm surge damage. Dolly has already spawned two tornadoes, but neither of these did damage. More tornadoes are expected.
Figure 2. Radar estimated precipitation of Dolly. Amount in excess of 14 inches have already fallen near the coast.
Floods remains a huge concern from Dolly. Rainfall amounts of five inches per hour were observed along the coast, with total rainfall amounts in excess of 14 inches. The real concern is how much rain will fall inland over the Rio Grande River watershed. In 1967, Hurricane Beulah, a huge and powerful Category 3 hurricane, dumped up to 27 inches of rain inland, triggering major flooding throughout South Texas and Northeast Mexico. Beulah did over $1 billion in damage to Texas, according to Wikipedia.
Elsewhere in the tropics
The tropical wave (97L) off the coast of Africa, just west of the Cape Verde Islands, is now over cool water of 25°C. The wave still has a large circulation, but has lost all of its heavy thunderstorm activity. Until this disturbance can find some warmer water (which should happen by Saturday), there is little chance of it developing. None of the reliable computer models show development of this system.
The GFS model is predicting development of a new tropical wave, due to move off the coast of Africa 4-5 days from now.
I'll have an update Thursday.
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