So long, Dolly
Port Aransas was treated to four hours of national advertising on The Weather Channel Tuesday morning, July 22.
TWC meteorologist Jim Cantore was broadcasting live on the beach from 6 to 10 a.m., according to City Manager Michael Kovacs.
The occasion was Tropical Storm Dolly, which became a Category 1 hurricane later in the day before making landfall just south of Brownsville about mid-day yesterday, Wednesday, July 23.
Early Wednesday morning, Dolly was packing sustained winds near 85 mph, and some predictions were for it to become a near Category 2 storm before coming ashore. Decreased forward motion from 16 mph to about 8 mph created the potential for strengthening over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
A Category 1 hurricane produces winds from 74 to 95 mph. Category 2 storm winds range from 96 to 110 mph.
Port Aransas is under a floodwatch through this afternoon, Thursday, July 24.
On Monday, the city was under a hurricane watc,h and Kovacs was advising residents and visitors to prepare for a "high wind event."
By Tuesday morning, the watch had been downgraded to a tropical storm warning.
Under sunny skies, the threat of tropical weather seemed distant. So distant that Ann Bracher Vaughan, executive director of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce Tourist Bureau, took her grandchildren to the beach.
Four-year-old Bracher Vaughan and his sister, Ava, 2, of Uvalde were playing in the water, but TWC's Cantore missed that story.
It was a story that played out the rest of the day. Kovacs said there were so many people on the beach that city crews were instructed to leave some portable toilets and trashcans on the beach to accommodate beachgoers.
By Tuesday afternoon, dozens of surfers crowded the parking lot at Horace Caldwell Pier, paddling out in surf more than 6 feet high.
The pier is a surfing hot-spot.
Elsewhere, it was a matter of preparing for a bit of bad weather.
In addition to attending to the beach, city crews were cleaning out ditches to make sure nothing obstructed the flow of stormwater runoff in case of heavy rain, Kovacs said.
Port Aransas Independent School District Maintenance Director Bill Atkins said his workers picked up loose items such as lumber from around school grounds in preparation for winds associated with Dolly. Inside, employees were unplugging computers to prevent against electrical surges, should the hurricane bring lightning.
Representatives of Carmella's Daycare and Learning Center and Trinity-by-the-Sea Day School said their daycare operations would be closed Wednesday due to anticipated bad weather. They said they would re-open today if weather permits.
If Kovacs is right, weather should permit reopening of both facilities.
He said late Tuesday that he expects routines to be "back to normal" today.