for National Geographic News
As of noon eastern time today, the center of Hurricane Dolly was about 35 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Brownsville, Texas.
The storm's strongest winds were blowing at about 96 to 110 miles (154 to 177 kilometers). That makes Dolly a Category 2 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which rates hurricanes from 1 to 5 based on the damage they are likely to cause.
Dolly's winds could increase before the storm comes ashore around 1 p.m. eastern time, said Christopher Juckins, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.
The storm is over warm water in the Gulf of Mexico—which could allow it to intensify—and there are no upper-level winds that would inhibit its development.
(Create your own interactive hurricane.)
Experts believe Hurricane Dolly's impact will be minimal, because it likely will go ashore in an area that is not heavily populated. Other July hurricanes in past years have been much more powerful than Dolly.
Still, the formation of Hurricane Dolly—as well as Hurricane Bertha and tropical storm Cristobal earlier this month—make July 2008 unusual, meteorologists say.
On July 19, Bertha, Cristobal, and Dolly were all active tropical weather systems, noted meteorologist Jeff Masters of Ann Arbor, Michigan, founder of the commercial forecasting Web site Weather Underground.
That's the first time three named systems have been active on the same day since the practice of naming hurricanes began in 1950, he said.
(Related: "Hurricane Forecasters Stick to 'Busy' 2008 Prediction" [June 3, 2008].)
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