Hurricane Harvey, the first hurricane to make landfall in Texas since 2008, is strengthening and expected to strike the Texas coast later tonight as a Cat-3 storm with maximum sustained winds near 120 mph according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). But perhaps worse than wind speeds, Harvey encapsulates the 'perfect storm' as it's moving slowly at 10mph and is expected to hover over the Texas shoreline after making landfall, bringing up to a 12 foot storm surge and dropping up to 35 inches of rain in certain areas.
Here's a summary of the latest from the NHC:
1. Harvey is expected to be a major hurricane at landfall, bringing life-threatening storm surge, rainfall, and wind hazards to portions of the Texas coast. Preparations to protect life and property should be completed this morning, as tropical-storm-force winds will first arrive in the hurricane and storm surge warning areas later today.
2. A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for much of the Texas coast. Life-threatening storm surge flooding could reach heights of 6 to 12 feet above ground level at the coast between the north entrance of the Padre Island National Seashore and Sargent. For a depiction of areas at risk, see the Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic at hurricanes.gov.
3. Devastating and life-threatening flooding is expected across the middle and upper Texas coast from heavy rainfall of 15 to 25 inches, with isolated amounts as high as 35 inches, from today through next Wednesday. Please refer to products from your local National Weather Service office and the NOAA Weather Prediction Center for more information on the flooding hazard.
4. The Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map is available on the NHC website. This product depicts a reasonable worst-case scenario - the amount of inundation that has a 10 percent chance of being exceeded at each individual location. This map best represents the flooding potential in those locations within the watch and warning areas.
Harvey is expected to bring with it a storm surge of up to 12 feet at Padre Island and 4-8 feet along much of the Texas coast.
STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water is expected to reach the following heights above ground if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide...
N Entrance Padre Island Natl Seashore to Sargent...6 to 12 ft
Sargent to Jamaica Beach...5 to 8 ft
Port Mansfield to N Entrance Padre Island Natl Seashore...5 to 7 ft
Jamaica Beach to High Island...2 to 4 ft
Mouth of the Rio Grande to Port Mansfield...2 to 4 ft
High Island to Morgan City...1 to 3 ft
The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the northeast of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances. For information specific to your area, please see products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office.
Meanwhile, landfall is expected to occur sometime late tonight or early Saturday morning.
Rain accumulation is expected to reach up to 35 inches in certain areas with all of the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama shorelines impacted.
RAINFALL: Harvey is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 15 to 25 inches and isolated maximum amounts of 35 inches over the middle and upper Texas coast through next Wednesday. During the same time period Harvey is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 7 to 15 inches in far south Texas and the Texas Hill Country eastward through central and southwest Louisiana, with accumulations of up to 7 inches extending into other parts of Texas and the lower Mississippi Valley. Rainfall from Harvey will cause devastating and life-threatening flooding.
Forecasts are currently predicting sustained winds of up to 120mph when Harvey reaches the coastline later tonight.
WIND: Hurricane conditions are likely within the hurricane warning area later today and tonight, with tropical storm conditions expected to first reach the coast in the hurricane warning area later this morning. These conditions are likely to persist into Saturday in portions of the hurricane and tropical storm warning area.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has already requested the activation of 700 National Guard members and FEMA Director Brock Long is warning residents to evacuate ahead of what he describes as a "significant disaster."
"Texas is about to have a very significant disaster," Long, the FEMA chief, said, stressing that people need to heed evacuation warnings.
Those who stay should "elevate and get into a structure that can withstand potentially Category 3 winds from a hurricane," he said.
"The bottom line message is, right now, if people have not heeded the warning, again, their window to do so is closing," Long said. "If they refuse to heed the warning, that's on them."
Long said he is "very worried" about storm surge, or "wind-driven water," slamming coastal areas, saying it has the "highest potential to kill the most amount of people and cause the most amount of damage."
A "significant inland flood event over many counties" is expected, he warned.
"Over the next five days, we're going to see copious amounts of rainfall, up to 25 inches, possibly, in some areas, with isolated higher amounts," he said. "This is going to be a slow-developing major disaster event for the state of Texas."
Of course, Harvey poses a huge threat for oil/gas prices as the Gulf coast region of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas accounts for over 50% of the country's refining capacity and federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico account for about 18% of the oil and 5% of total natural gas production.
The outer bands of Harvey are just starting to reach Padre Island.
Meanwhile, for those who need a closer look from inside the storm, you can follow there pilots as they fly into the eye of Hurricane Harvey.