Cristobal not a big threat; but Dolly is another story

By: Levi32 , 11:02 PM GMT on July 20, 2008

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Tropical storm Cristobal is slowly moving NE close to the outer banks of North Carolina. Convection had completely gotten de-coupled from the COC yesterday, and is only just now starting to consolidate closer to the center, but it's pretty much too late for Cristobal. He may strengthen as he moves out to sea but he is no major threat to any land areas, and in fact is bringing beneficial rainfall to the Carolinas.

As I expected, 94L was finally named TS Dolly this morning after a recon found a defined surface circulation. However, in the 5pm discussion this afternoon the NHC said that the recon reported a less-well defined circulation. I believe this may be being caused by the COC trying to relocate to the northeast. Right now the center is displaced SW of the mid-level center and the main area of deep convection. However visible imagery this afternoon shows the COC trying to jump NE into a new burst of convection. The mid-level center is still very defined , and it will be interesting to see which center wins the battle, as it will have an effect on Dolly's track. I think Dolly may have time to strengthen to maybe a 50kt system before hitting the Yucatan, and then little change in intensity during the crossing, maybe some slight weakening. The ULL that has been producing wind shear over Dolly is rapidly dropping away to the SW and weakening as it goes. This means that Dolly will end up being under a nice upper-level anticyclone over the Gulf of Mexico. This, and 28c SSTs, should contribute to strengthening. The NHC is calling for a TS most of the way and then Cat 1 at landfall on the Mexican coast, but personally I think this is going to be a solid Cat 2 in the gulf.

So who will Dolly honor with her presence? Well the models are in great agreement for the first 48 hours, bringing Dolly over the Yucatan and eastern Bay of Campeche. This track could be shifted slightly to the north if the center ends up relocating NE, but for now the track for the next 2 days looks pretty solid. Beyond that the models diverge and have been jumping back and forth between a Mexico landfall and a southern Texas landfall. I am in close agreement with the NHC forecast for a landfall just south of the Rio Grande River, however it's really still too far out to speculate on the landfall location. The upper-level high over the GOM will be weakening over the next few days as a long-wave trough digs southward over the Great Lakes. The western periphery of this high also lies over the western GOM. All of this means that Dolly will slow down under weaker steering currents after her crossing of the Yucatan, and it is possible that she could end up moving further north than the models are anticipating at this point. Everyone on the Mexican coast and southern Texas coast should closely monitor Dolly over the next few days.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Bertha is moving out, but we have a new puppy to watch, and it's a big puppy. A new wave emerging off Africa, and this one is a monster and will probably develop over the central Atlantic. Don't let this one slip by your radar while we focus on stuff close to home. Too early to speculate on anything with this system but it could be in the vicinity of 20n 60w within a week. Keep an eye out for it.

We shall see what happens!

Cristobal radar imagery:

Cristobal visible satellite imagery (click for loop):

Cristobal model tracks:


Dolly visible satellite imagery (click for loop):

Dolly model tracks:

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About Levi32

Masters student in tropical meteorology at FSU. Raised in Alaskan blizzards, but drawn toward tropical cyclones by their superior PGF.

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