UPDATE: 2 p.m. CDT, Sunday, Aug. 27: For updates on road closures in Texas, click here.
UPDATE: 6:45 p.m. CDT, Friday, Aug. 25: At approximately 6 p.m. CDT, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Hurricane Harvey to a Category 4 storm. The last hurricane to sustain Category 4 status at landfall in Texas was Carla in 1961.
Hurricane Harvey expected to bring
'catastrophic and life-threatening' flooding
The first hurricane to hit the United States during the 2017 season is expected to make landfall after dark in Texas on Friday, Aug. 25. Potentially reaching Category 3 strength, Hurricane Harvey is considered a life-threatening storm.
As of 3 p.m. CDT on Friday, Hurricane Harvey was at a Category 3 storm and reaching 120 mph winds about 50 miles away from Port Arkansas. The storm system started on Aug. 17 and reached tropical storm status of 40 mph before dying down on Aug. 19. However, a perfect storm of conditions resurrected the system on Aug. 23, and it has been building ever since.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, “Evaculanes” on northbound Interstate 37 have been activated from State Highway 358 north of Corpus Christi to just south of Interstate 410 in San Antonio. According to one source in Three Rivers, Texas, traffic on I-37 has been bumper to bumper since Thursday, even with the shoulder opened up to traffic.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lifted regulations on Aug. 23 after Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster. The end date of the order is yet to be determined.
The National Hurricane Center issued an advisory at approximately 1 p.m. CDT notifying affected residents that the rain band was reaching lower and middle Texas coasts, potentially causing “catastrophic flooding” in portions of southern and southeastern Texas.
A storm surge warning is in effect for Port Mansfield to High Island, and a storm surge watch for south of Port Mansfield to the mouth of the Rio Grande. Hurricane warnings are affecting Port Mansfield to Sargent.
A storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline in the indicated locations, according to NHS. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case within the next 12-24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
NHC expects Harvey to reach landfall on the middle Texas coast on Friday night or early Saturday. From that point, the storm is expected to stay near or just inland of that area throughout the weekend. Tornadoes can possibly form as a result of the storm.
Drivers, residents and business owners will be worried mostly about flooding during Hurricane Harvey. The storm is expected to pour down 15-25 inches of rain through Wednesday. In some isolated areas, as much as 35 inches of rain accumulations can occur. NHC said this type of flooding can be “catastrophic and life-threatening.”
According to Gov. Abbott’s office, the following areas are under mandatory evacuation as of 11 a.m. on Friday:
- Calhoun County
- A&M Corpus Christi
- Aransas County
- San Patricio County
- Refugio County
- City of Aransas Pass
- City of Port Aransas
- City of Rockport
- City of Ingleside
- City of Refugio
- Brazoria County
- Matagorda County
- City of Palacios
- City of Victoria
- Victoria County
- Jackson County
The following areas are under voluntary evacuations:
- City of Galveston
- Galveston County
- City of S. Padre Island
- City of Port Arthur
- City of Corpus Christi
- City of Ricardo
- City of Rivera
- City of Kingsville
- City of W. Columbia
- City of Richwood
- City of Beeville
- Bee County
- Bay City
- Mustang Island
- Padre Island
- City of San Patricio
- City of Seabrook
- Jamaica Beach
In related news, AAA is reporting that Harvey “has high potential to negatively affect five southern Texas coast refineries and condensate splitters as well as crude and gasoline inventory levels in the region and beyond.” According to TruckMiles.com, diesel was $2.419 in Texas on Friday morning, a full penny jump upwards from Thursday.
The refineries in Corpus Christi account for 4.2 percent of total U.S. oil refining capacity, according to AAA. Refineries in Houston, Texas City and Baytown account for 14 percent of processing capacity in the U.S.
The last major hurricane to make landfall in Texas was Hurricane Ike on Sept. 13, 2008. Ike landed as a Category 2 hurricane in Galveston, costing $37.5 billion in damage. The last Category 3 storm to make landfall in Texas was Hurricane Rita on Sept. 24, 2005, between the Texas and Louisiana border. Damages from Rita totaled to $12 billion. Ike was the third costliest U.S. Atlantic hurricane ($29.5 billion in U.S. only), with Rita ranking ninth.
Conditions are likely to change as the storm reaches inland and beyond. Check highway conditions, closures and evacuation routes periodically by clicking here. Drivers can also call 800-452-9292 for TxDOT statewide road closures.
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