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Public Information Statement

Statement as of 5:59 AM CDT on May 26, 2015

... Public information statement...

... May 24th through 30th is hurricane preparedness week in Texas...
... Today's topic is high winds and tornadoes...

The honorable governor of Texas... Greg Abbott... has proclaimed may
24th through 30th 2015 as hurricane preparedness week in Texas.

The following tropical weather topics will be discussed for the rest
of the week:

Today... ... ... ... ... ... high winds and tornadoes
Wednesday... ... ... ... ..inland flooding
Thursday... ... ... ... ... marine impacts
Friday... ... ... ... ... ..Personal preparedness tips

... High winds...
though the power of storm surge has become a staple of hurricane
devastation in the 21st century... with 2012's Sandy and 2005's Katrina
most memorable... high winds can be equally devastating as seen in
Miami/Dade County Florida in 1992 /Andrew/ and southwest Florida in
2004 /Charley/.

Winds in a hurricane circulate counter clockwise and become
increasingly stronger as you approach the center of the storm in a
region called the eye wall. The destructive winds in this eye wall
region reach speeds of 74 miles per hour or greater and gusts can be
considerably higher. For most land falling hurricanes... wind speed
decreases rapidly within 12 hours after landfall. In some cases
winds can stay above hurricane strength well inland such as 1970
when Celia produced hurricane force winds as far inland as del Rio.

Hurricane intensity is determined by the speed of the wind and
potential damage. A category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson
hurricane wind scale has winds from 74 to 95 mph. A category
five hurricane has winds greater than 157 mph. Depending on
circumstances... less intense storms may still be strong enough to
produce damage... particularly in areas that have not prepared in
advance. The amount of damage from hurricane force winds increases
exponentially as the winds increase. Accordingly... a category four
hurricane... with winds between 130 and 156 mph... usually causes about
100 times the damage than that of a category one.

Hurricane force winds can easily destroy poorly constructed
buildings and Mobile homes. Debris such as signs... roofing
material... and small items left outside become dangerous missiles
in hurricanes. Extensive damage to trees... towers... water and
underground utility lines from uprooted trees... and fallen poles
cause considerable disruption to power and water supplies. More
intense hurricanes... containing winds above 120 mph... can produce
widespread devastation that can take months to rebuild and repair.

High rise buildings are also vulnerable to hurricane force winds...
particularly on upper floors since hurricane wind speeds increase
with height in the lower levels of the atmosphere. It is not
uncommon for high rise buildings to suffer a great deal of damage
due to windows being blown out. The majority of high rise buildings
across the Rio Grande Valley are located on the beaches in the town
of South Padre Island... where the highest winds from a land falling
storm would occur.

Remember... a hurricane can strengthen rapidly... including just prior
to landfall. When preparing for a hurricane... you should
consider planning for a storm at least one category higher than

As Hurricane Dolly made landfall in late July 2008... sustained winds
within the eye wall prior to and during landfall were estimated to be
around 80 mph with gusts to just over 100 mph. The most significant
wind damage extended from the town of South Padre Island to Port
Isabel. Hurricane force winds from Dolly blew off roofs... shattered
windows and tore holes in the sides of several buildings and knocked
down dozens of power lines. The most severe wind damage with Dolly
occurred in older mid and high rise buildings and in warehouse-style
construction fully exposed to the winds. The strongest winds
associated with Dolly were concentrated within the southern and
western eye wall.

As Dolly pushed further inland after landfall... damaging winds
occurred across Harlingen... Raymondville and McAllen. Wind gusts to
hurricane force extended from Los Fresnos through San Benito...
Harlingen and Raymondville. These winds lifted roofs... collapsed
walls of older buildings and knocked down thousands of tress and
limbs. Wind gusts from 50 to 70 mph across highly populated portions
of Hidalgo County also caused minor damage. As a result of the
damaging hurricane winds... widespread power outages left nearly a
quarter of a million customers in deep south Texas without power
during the storm. In harder hit areas like Port Isabel and South
Padre Island... the power was out for more than a week.

... Tornadoes...
hurricanes can also produce tornadoes that add to the destructive
power of the storm. Tornadoes are most likely to occur in the right
front quadrant of the hurricane. However... they are often found
embedded in the rainbands... well away from the center of the
hurricane. One example occurred in 1988 when tornadoes associated
with rainbands from a decaying hurricane Gilbert... hit the cities of
San Antonio and del Rio after the storm made landfall 125 miles
south of Brownsville. Hurricane Beulah spawned more than 100
tornadoes in south and south central Texas. A number of deaths from
Hurricane Ivan in Florida /2004/ were directly from spawned

Some hurricanes seem to produce no tornadoes... while others develop
multiple tornadoes. Studies have shown that more than half of the
land falling hurricanes produce at least one tornado. Hurricane
Beulah... which struck the south Texas coast in 1967 spawned 115 known
tornadoes while Hurricane Ike /2008/ produced notably fewer
tornadoes soon after landfall.

In general... tornadoes associated with hurricanes are less intense
that those that occur in the Great Plains. Nonetheless... the effects
of tornadoes added to the larger area of hurricane force winds... can
produce substantial damage.

In comparison to the large number of tornadoes generated by
hurricane Beulah... Hurricane Alex in 2010 produced three confirmed
small tornadoes in Cameron and Willacy County during the morning and
early afternoon of June 30th. However... remaining deep tropical
moisture... low level wind shear... and an upper level disturbance
helped likely contributed to the rapid formation of a 100 mph
tornado in Hebbronville on July 2nd... after Alex had been reduced to
low pressure in northeast Mexico. Ten tornadoes... including
Hebbronville... were reported in Texas.

Hurricane Dolly in 2008 produced only one tornado in Cameron County
during and after landfall... and another near San Antonio in outer
feeder bands.

Tornadoes can occur well away from the center of circulation. In
2011... an EF1 tornado with 90 mph winds damaged a business near the
city of Hidalgo... and one person was injured in a vehicle struck by
flying debris. The tornado may have been assisted by circulation far
from the center of Tropical Storm Arlene... more than 300 miles

For additional information regarding high winds and
preparedness... please visit the following websites /use lower case/:

Brownsville National Weather Service hurricane preparedness: wind

Texas hurricane guide, Rio Grande Valley edition (available by may 31)

Guia oficial de huracanes, la edicion para El Valle del Rio Grande
(disponible por 31 de mayo)

The National Hurricane Center high wind preparedness Page

Federal Alliance for safe homes

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