Personnel evacuated from 49 platforms in Gulf of Mexico

Oil and gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico shut down about 5% of their production, according to the Minerals Management Service of the US Department of the Interior. Personnel were evacuated from 49 production platforms.

However, Dolly's track is well south of the heaviest concentrations of offshore assets and no lasting shutdowns are expected.

“Physical damage to platforms and rigs is likely to be quite limited, with any insured losses dominated by business interruption,” said Dr Peter Dailey, director of atmospheric science at AIR Worldwide.

“There are three reasons why Dolly intensified relatively quickly as it neared the Texas coast: the storm was moving more slowly and thus had much more time to take advantage of the latent energy stored in the warm waters, the wind shear conditions in this part of the Gulf were more conducive to intensification, and hurricanes are able to more efficiently convert heat energy from the ocean to wind energy than weaker tropical storms,” Dr Dailey added.

“The experience with Dolly demonstrates that under slightly different environmental conditions, and in particular under a slightly different track, the intensification cycle of such a storm could have been very different. A more southerly track may have resulted in the storm's inability to reach hurricane strength, while a more northerly track could have produced a much stronger storm.”

According to Aon’s Impact Forecasting unit, the centre of Dolly made landfall over southern Padre Island earlier this afternoon as a borderline Category One to Category Two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. At the time of landfall, the central pressure reported by the Air Force Reconnaissance aircraft was 967 mb (28.56 inches of mercury) and winds were estimated between 90 and 100 mph (150 and 160 kph). Currently, the center of the storm is partially inland over far southern Texas. Due to land interaction, a gradual weakening has begun and will continue. The current advisory lists Dolly as an 85 mph (140 kph) Category One hurricane.

According to the National Hurricane Centre’s forecast, as Dolly continues to move farther inland, it will begin to rapidly lose its tropical characteristics.

Dolly continues to move on a steady northwest track at about 8 mph (13 kph). The hurricane is now located south of a ridge of high pressure over the western United States. Over the next 24-48 hours, a gradual turn to the west-northwest and west is expected until Dolly fully dissipates in about 48 hours.

Dolly is a large slow moving system and will continue to produce very heavy rains over the next few days. The system is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of eight to 12 inches, with isolated amounts of 20 inches possible in some locations over south Texas and northeastern Mexico.

These rains are likely to cause widespread flooding across portions of south Texas and northeast Mexico.