The National Hurricane Center (NHC) upgraded Hurricane Harvey to a Category 4 storm, moving it into the “major storm” classification. At 6 p.m. CDT, the NHC reported that Harvey’s achieved sustained winds of 130 mph — 130 to 156 mph is considered Cat 4.
The storm is expected to push storm surges of up to 12 feet in an area stretching about 100 miles north of the hurricane’s eye. Harvey is moving northwest at about 10 mph, but that speed is expected to slow as the storm moves inland and will stall not long after crossing the coastline. It is expected to remain stationary or move very slowly for the next two days, dumping potentially catastrophic levels of rainfall on the central Texas coast.
It appears the eye of the storm will make landfall between Rockport and Port Lavaca sometime late Friday or early Saturday morning.
Rockport Emergency Management Chief Rick McLester told Breitbart Texas, “It’s getting bad here and the storm isn’t even close yet.”
McLester said Rockport is expecting tides of six to seven feet. The seawall in the Rockport Boat Basin sits at four feet. Areas along South Water Street and Fulton Beach Road will see likely flooding in the near future, he said.
Officials said some strengthening of Hurricane Harvey is expected as the storm slows. If the wind speed hits 130 mph, it will be reclassified as a Category 4 storm.
Recent wind reports from Aransas Pass indicated winds beginning to gust to near hurricane-force at 71 mph. The weather station reported sustained tropical-storm winds of 56 mph.
Weather forecasters continue to call for massive rainfall totals. Most areas along the coast ranging from Corpus Christi to Houston can expect widespread rainfall of 15 to 30 inches over the next several days. Some areas could receive as much as 40 inches by Wednesday when Harvey is expected to reach the Houston metropolitan area and begin moving to the northeast.
Residents of Galveston Island’s West End need to prepare for tidal surges that could reach up to eight feet. From Jamaica Beach to High Island could see surges of two to four feet.
Officials warn that tornados can be spawned from the hurricane at any point.
Harvey will be the first Category 4 or higher storm to reach the U.S. mainland in 12 years. Hurricane Wilma (Cat 3) reached south Florida in October 2005.
Rockport and Corpus Christi residents will remember the last Category 3 hurricane to make landfall in that area. Hurricane Celia pounded the region with wind gusts in excess of 160 mph. Nearly 90 percent of the businesses in Corpus Christi at that time sustained damage while nearly 70 percent of homes were damaged, the Weather Channel reported.
Follow complete coverage of Hurricane Harvey on Breitbart Texas.