Hurricane Harvey rapidly intensified Thursday afternoon and could become a major hurricane before it hits the Texas coast Friday, National Hurricane Center forecasters said Thursday.
Much of the central and south Texas coast was under hurricane and storm surge warnings after the hurricane, expected to dump heavy rain, quickly gained strength. In their latest advisory, forecasters said the hurricane had sustained winds of 85 mph but weak wind shear will likely allow it to become a more dangerous Cat 3 storm or worse.
After it makes landfall, forecasters say the storm will likely slow down and may even stall, delivering heavy rain.
Rainfall could reach 12 and 20 inches, with up to 30 inches possible over the middle and upper Texas coast. Between five and 12 inches could fall in south Texas, the Texas Hill Country and central Louisiana, raising the risk of dangerous flooding. Storm surge near Padre Island could reach 12 feet, with up to eight feet possible on parts of Galveston Island.
A system over the Gulf of Mexico is expected to steer Harvey to the northwest through tonight. However, its track becomes less certain after 48 hours when a mid-level pressure system over the western United States causes it to stall, forecasters said.
The storm’s intensity could also fluctuate as it rolls toward the coast and crosses cooler waters off Texas. Predicting its intensity is also complicated by how long the storm remains over land, and whether it emerges in the northwest Gulf of Mexico.
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