Hurricane Dolly has taken a distinct northerly jog over the past couple of hours, and as a result, it now appears that the storm’s eye will definitely come ashore on the U.S. side of the Texas-Mexico border. It is even possible that Dolly’s innermost eyewall will stay entirely to the north of Brownsville proper, though that is subject to change depending on how Dolly “wobbles” over the next few hours.In any event, Dolly’s track means that the “right-front quadrant,” normally the most dangerous part of a hurricane, will hit the sparsely populated region north of the border towns. However, this may not be such a blessing, because Dolly has an unusual structure right now, and it appears the left-front quadrant — i.e., the southern eyewall — is the strongest part of this particular hurricane. And the southern eyewall, or at least its outer portion, is lashing the southernmost Texas coast right now, as the 12:08 PM EDT radar shows.
Just how strong are the winds in that eyewall? 100 mph sustained, according to the National Hurricane Center, with higher gusts. And they may get stronger before they get weaker; Dolly’s winds still have some “catching up” to do after this morning’s sudden pressure drop, and she’s still got a few more hours over water in which to strengthen.
Dolly’s barometric pressure was listed at 964 millibars as of the 11am advisory. A satellite-based estimate of a much lower pressure — 947 mb, which would correspond to a borderline Category 3-4 hurricane — has not been borne out by direct reconnaissance measurements, thankfully. Indeed, the latest recon vortex message, as of 11:26 AM EDT, indicates the pressure has come up slightly, to 966 mb. So it appears Dolly’s “deepening” phase is over, and she’s leveling off.
Still, a barometric pressure in the mid-960s usually corresponds to winds around 110 mph, give or take, rather than merely 100 mph. So, we could see another slight boost in Dolly’s official wind speed early this afternoon. At the very least, you can bet there are some unusually strong gusts, relative to the sustained-wind speed, in that eyewall. (All other things being equal, intensifying hurricanes generally cause higher gusts, and thus do more damage, than stable or weakening ones of the same present intensity.)
It is difficult to say exactly when Dolly will make official “landfall,” as the storm is really crawling at this point, so small “wobbles” become incredibly important. But, unless it stalls out completely, Dolly will fully come ashore sometime over the next several hours. Here is a live radar loop, courtesy of the National Weather Service in Brownsville:
And here is another, more zoomed-in radar loop, from Weather Underground.