Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a category 4 storm in the middle coast of Texas on Friday night, said the National Hurricane Center.
A station at Aransas Pass run by the Texas Coastal Observing Network reported a sustained wind of 90 mph with a gust to 108 mph (174 km/h), the NOAA said.
NEW: #Harvey continues to intensify and is now a category 4 #hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb pic.twitter.com/7CkJkuafTb
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 25, 2017
Earlier on Friday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner stressed that there is no need to leave Houston at this point in time.
Turner, who was speaking at a joint press conference with Harris County’s Judge Ed Emmett about readiness for Harvey, stressed that Houstonians “are going to need to be be very, very patient”, with the storm and the massive flooding will happen as a result of it, according to forecasts. "This is not an evacuation for our area. But just be safe, heed the instructions, don't get your news from facebook, get your news from credible media sources", the mayor said.
Houston officials reiterated that this is not an evacuation event despite a conflicting one from Texas Governor Greg Abbott earlier on Friday, who urged people in the Houston area to consider leaving town for a few days.
But Turner said at the press conference that Houston area residents should listen to local leaders.
Emmett stressed that “we are not talking about a hurricane in Houston. We are talking about a rain event”, to underline that preparations in both the city and harris County at this point are very different from those taking place in the coastal areas that will suffer the brunt of Harvey’s arrival.
The Mayor indicated that the city is prepared to open shelters for people with flooded homes, but he says they won't know where those shelters will be until it's clear which parts of town will need it most.
See the full press conference in the video below:
The powerful storm will stall in that area for most of the weekend, says Bryan Kale, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service Houston office. Kale adds that Harvey will slowly move "back northeast up towards the Houston metro and Galveston Bay area towards the middle of next week.”
So, he says, “this is going to be a prolonged event. It has the potential to produce some catastrophic rainfall amounts and life-threatening flooding."
Now is the time to complete preparations. Tropical-storm-force wind gust recently reported at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. #Harvey pic.twitter.com/jlw3lEPTEj
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 25, 2017
Forecasters said there’s a good chance Hurricane Harvey may hit Texas twice, worsening the projected flooding.
The National Hurricane Center’s official five-day forecast Friday had Harvey slamming the central Texas coast, stalling and letting loose with lots of rain. Then forecasters projected the weakened but still tropical storm would likely go back into the Gulf of Mexico, gain some strength and hit Houston next week.
Jeff Masters, Weather Underground’s meteorology director, said this could cause a collision of high water with nowhere to go. Harvey is projected to drop up to 3 feet (0.91 meter) of rain in some places over the next several days.
But a second landfall near Houston means more storm surge coming from the Gulf. Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water above the normal tide, generated by a storm.
Both the National Weather Service and the Harris County Flood Control District consider Harvey a life-threatening event. The surge inundation, according to the NWS, could be in between 6 to 12 feet (above ground level) from N Entrance Padre Island National Seashore to Sargent; 5 to 8 feet Sargent to Jamaica Beach; and 2 to 4 feet from Jamaica Beach to High Island and around Galveston Bay.
Jeff Lindner, with the Harris County Flood Control District, said Harvey will potentially be something we have never seen before.
“This is potentially going to be a dangerous, life-threatening, and even historic rainfall event. Even for those who have been through hurricanes. We are hurricane tested here in this state. This is going to be different”. Lindner said. “This is going to be a hurricane that comes in strong to the mid-Texas coast, and then we're still dealing with it next Monday and Tuesday.”
The steering flow, the NWS said, will weaken considerably after landfall but a slow drift will result over the weekend and into early next week. This will result in heavy rainfall for a prolonged period of time with catastrophic flooding possible, especially south of the I-10 corridor.
Lindner stressed that the rarity in this is “in that usually when a hurricane makes landfall here, we deal with 24 hours or so of adverse conditions and then we begin recovery. That is not going to happen with this storm. It is going to impact us and stay with us for a long period of time. And that's what really none of us have ever experienced before.
Millions of people are bracing for a prolonged battering that could swamp dozens of counties more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) inland. Some of them were evacuating on Friday morning trying to get away from Harvey’s hit.
Many Texas coastal counties were ordered to evacuate while others had voluntary evacuations issued. The latest to add to the list was the city of La Porte.
Corpus Christi officials said all flights out of the city’s airport had been canceled as the hurricane approaches.
The city said in a news release late Friday morning that the airlines had canceled all flights out of Corpus Christi International Airport for the rest of the day.
The city said the airport isn’t closed, but officials don’t anticipate much activity over the weekend. Runways will be closed as conditions warrant.
Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told “Good Morning America” that Harvey is a “very serious” threat and that the window for evacuating is quickly closing.
Long said he expects extensive damage from significant rain over the next three days.
According to Space City Weather, a Houston-based weather specialized website, with the central pressure continuing to fall, the storm's winds will almost certainly increase.
For Texas, there will be two scenarios, Space City Wether says: “The catastrophic effects from wind and surge during the next day or so for the central Texas coast, and the unfolding, widespread, major flood event from Saturday through the middle of next week for a large swath of the state, including Houston.”
From Washington D.C., President Donald Trump said that he was keeping a close watch on Hurricane Harvey. This is Trump’s fist major natural disaster event since he became president in January.
On Twitter Friday, Trump said he “Received a #HurricaneHarvey briefing this morning” from top federal officials.
In another statement on Twitter, Trump said he had spoken with Abbott and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. He added: “Closely monitoring #HurricaneHarvey developments & here to assist as needed.”
This story contains information from Associated Press