Found this on Weatherunderground, from their Director of Meteorology Dr. Jeff Masters. I do not want to be an alarmist, but given the nature of the situation, I wanted to post this for our Alabama/Panhandle posters....
I urge all residents of the Gulf Coast in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle who were undecided about whether to evacuate to get out now!
Dennis continues to break the rules for what is usual for a hurricane. In my previous blog entry, I wrote that it is very unusual for a major hurricane to regain its former intensity after a long crossing over land. However, Dennis is poised to do just that.
Aircraft recon just measured a central pressure of 947 mb at 5:15pm, an 11 mb drop in 90 minutes--a rarely observed rate of intensification. The eyewall shrank from 15 miles in diameter to 12 miles, and the satellite presentation confirms that the storm is undergoing explosive deepening. Dennis will surely be a strong Category 4 storm in about 6 hours, when the winds have time to catch up to the pressure falls, and Category 5 is not out of the question. Satellite imagery shows an outer wind maximum is probably forming, meaning Dennis will enter another eyewall replacement cycle tonight after this phase of explosive deepening is over.
The current track of the storm is more WNW than NW, and is likely a temporary wobble similar to two others this storm has already done. I expect Dennis will shortly resume its previous northwest track. The most recent wobble occurred as the storm was doing its previous rapid intensification cycle just before it hit Cuba. The current wobble is enough to probably spare Panama City the worst of the hurricane, but increases the danger to Mobile. A direct hit by Dennis just west of Mobile could easily challenge Hurricane Andrew as the most expensive hurricane in history. Dennis's storm surge of 15-20 feet would push into Mobile Bay and cause tens of billions in destruction. Even if Dennis hits further east near Pensacola, as I still expect, the damage will surpass Ivan's $13 billion and Charley's $14 billion to make Dennis the second costliest hurricane on record.
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