Hurricane Harvey which has upgraded to a Category 4 storm, has begun to pound the Texas coast and its millions of residents, with hurricane-force winds knocking down trees, power poles and signs, and with torrential rain deluging streets. The eye of the storm still is a few hours offshore, but the storm surge, downpours, and harsh winds are already pummeling the shores.
The National Hurricane Center warns that some areas will see as much as 13 feet of storm surge and large, destructive waves. Maximum sustained wind speeds were at 130 mph Friday night. And there’s the rain that the slow-moving storm is expected to produce. Because it is expected to come to a near halt inland, Harvey could drop as much as 40 inches of rain in some places, and up to 30 inches in others, by Wednesday.
Such daunting language hasn’t been seen by experts since Hurricane Katrina, which left more than 1,800 people dead in 2005. The center of the storm is 35 miles east of Corpus Christi and Harvey is moving to the northwest at just 8 mph. The storm will stall and dump rain on South Texas and parts of Louisiana into the middle of next week, forecasters predicted.
FEMA has pre-positioned incident management teams, as well as life-saving and life-sustaining commodities, and search-and-rescue teams in Texas. Could Harvey be the next Katrina? Experts are unsure on whether or not Harvey will increase in strength once the eyewall makes landfall.