Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mexico and Texas storm upgraded

Hurricane Dolly was due to strike the Mexico-Texas coast on Wednesday, bringing with it up to 38cm (15in) of rain and winds up to 100mph (161km/h).

A category two hurricane warning is in place for the Texan coast from Brownsville to Corpus Christi and in Mexico from Rio San Fernando northward.

Towns and cities in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas are on alert in case heavy rain causes flooding.

Residents have been urged to move away from levees in case they are breached.

"Preparation to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami warned.

Storm surge

Dolly, the second hurricane of the 2008 season, was upgraded from a tropical storm to a category one hurricane on Tuesday afternoon, before being upgraded again to category two status on Wednesday morning.

It is expected to make landfall at around midday (1700 GMT) on Wednesday.

Forecasters predicted Dolly would bring a coastal storm surge of up to 6ft (1.8m) above normal high tide levels, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Based on Dolly's projected path, the US Census Bureau said that about 1.5 million Texans could feel the storm's effects.

Cari Lambrecht, a spokesman for Hidalgo County, Texas, said that shelters holding about 400 people were open.

She said they were encouraging people in low-lying areas to use the shelters.

"It's so much easier for them to go now instead of us having to pull them out later," she said.

Texas Governor Rick Perry has called up 1,200 National Guard members to help in any emergency caused by the hurricane.

In Mexico, Governor Eugenio Hernandez of the state of Tamaulipas, said officials planned to evacuate 23,000 people to government shelters in Matamoros, Soto La Marina and San Fernando.

In the Gulf of Mexico, Shell Oil evacuated workers from oil rigs, but said it did not expect production to be affected.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/07/23 15:49:02 GMT