The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Harvey has strengthened to a Category 4 storm.
The center says Harvey has sustained wind speeds of 130 mph (209kph) as the powerful storm churns off the Texas coast. Forecasters are labeling it a “life-threatening storm.”
The storm quickly grew Thursday from a tropical depression into a Category 1 hurricane, and then developed into a Category 2 storm early Friday. By Friday afternoon, it had become a Category 3 storm before strengthening to a category 4. It’s forecast to make landfall in Texas late Friday or early Saturday.
The storm is 45 miles (72 kilometers) east of Corpus Christi.
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) August 25, 2017
As Hurricane Harvey approaches the Texas coast, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials say if a shelter in place order is issued, residents should immediately take action to do so.
FEMA on Friday urged residents to charge cell phones and to download the agency’s phone app, follow them on Twitter at @FEMAregion6 or follow FEMA on Facebook.
Six federal Urban Search and Rescue task forces have been staged in San Antonio in preparation. Other support personnel as well as National Flood Insurance program officials have been stationed in other areas of Texas.
The agency has set up support bases near Seguin, Texas, and other areas closer to the projected hurricane path to store supplies including more than 96,000 liters of water, 306,000 meals and 4,500 tarps and blankets. State, local and tribal officials will be responsible for distributing those materials as requested and needed.
Up the coast, Houston on alert
Officials say rain from Hurricane Harvey could inundate Houston roads and neighborhoods as early as Saturday night.
Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District, said Friday that two key reservoirs in the flood control system — at the Addicks and Barker dams — are currently near-empty and are in no danger of flooding neighborhoods close by. The district has electronic sensors installed along Houston’s bayous and waterways.
Lindner did not single out neighborhoods in Houston, saying all of the nation’s fourth-largest city and its outlying areas face flooding in a storm as large as Harvey.
Houston is notoriously flood-prone and forecast to receive steady rain for several days into next week.