Harvey expected to make landfall as a major hurricane

NOAA Handout via Reuters
NOAA Handout via Reuters

(Via ABC News)

Hurricane Harvey is expected to hit Texas as a Category 3 storm — the likes of which haven’t been seen since 1999’s Hurricane Bret — when it makes landfall late Friday or early Saturday, forecasters say.

The storm strengthened to a hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, on Thursday afternoon.

The storm’s surge could be life threatening, up to 10 feet, with waves as high as 20 feet above that. Rain is expected to range from 10 to 20 inches, and some areas could receive up to 30 inches. Perilous flash flooding and 115 mph gusts are possible.

“Harvey is expected to landfall around 1 a.m. Saturday, based on the current track,” ABC News meteorologist Melissa Griffin said, adding that more time over water could increase the storm’s strength. “If it had another day or two, it could be a higher category.”

The storm is being compared with not only Hurricane Bret but also the devastating Tropical Storm Allison, which in 2001 punished Houston with 40 inches of rain.

The biggest worry with Hurricane Harvey is that it’s expected to stall over southeastern Texas, Griffin said.

“When it does make landfall, it is expected to … not move for several days, which is why we expect the rainfall to be the most devastating,” she said. “Some spots could receive over 30 inches.”

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Corpus Christi’s newly elected Mayor Joe McComb told residents not to dismiss Harvey and to heed requests to voluntarily evacuate.

“We encourage the residents in low-lying areas, as they say, to get out of Dodge,” he said.

McComb stressed that flooding alone could cut off electricity and clean water from homes in the area. “Go to a family, friend and get to higher ground,” he said.

He left open the possibility of calling for mandatory evacuations, cautioning against trying to “ride [the storm] out.”

“I’m not going to risk our fire people and police people to risk themselves to get somebody out of the home,” he said. “They got relatives, and they got family, and we don’t want to put them in harm’s way because someone wanted to stay in their home.”