Hurricane Harvey, pumped up by warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, made landfall Friday night on the Texas coast near Rockport. It is expected to be the strongest storm to hit the United States in more than a decade.
Here’s what we know now:
Harvey hits Texas
Hurricane Harvey made landfall at 10 p.m. CDT as a Category 4 storm in Texas late Friday, bringing with it 130-mph winds and unleashing flash floods, storm surges and up to three feet of rain.
Harvey is the first major hurricane — classified as Category 3 or above — to hit the USA since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
The National Weather Service said the storm intensified to a Category 4 hurricane Friday afternoon. Harvey could dump up to three feet of rain in some spots in the next week as it lingers over the area, adding to the threat of flash flooding and storm surges.
Some forecasts are calling for as much as a mind-boggling 60 inches (that’s five feet) of rain from Harvey.
Late Friday night, FEMA announced that federal disaster assistance was made available for the state of Texas to supplement recovery efforts in affected storm areas.
What is the storm’s biggest threat?
While a 4-6 foot storm surge and howling, 100 mph or higher winds will be a deadly threat, the storm’s biggest concern may eventually turn out to be flooding from days and days of torrential rain. Harvey will stall and spin for the next three to five days, dumping up to 2 feet of rain across the region. Harvey “may be nothing short of a flooding disaster,” for Texas, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, who said some communities could be underwater for days. Forecasters were already measuring 28-foot-high waves near the eye of the storm.
Since Harvey hit Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, it is the strongest storm to hit the U.S. in 12 years. The last such system was Hurricane Wilma in Florida in October 2005.
Harvey is also the strongest to strike Texas since 1961’s Hurricane Carla, the most powerful Texas hurricane on record.
In advance of the storm, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for 30 counties. Almost 233,000 homes on the Texas coast are at risk, with a potential reconstruction bill of almost $40 billion, according to CoreLogic, a company that conducts global property analysis.
Early Saturday morning, President Trump said on Twitter his office would “remain fully engaged w/ open lines of communication.”