After several morning developments, Tropical Storm Harvey officially became Hurricane Harvey early Thursday afternoon as the system’s sustained winds increased to 80 mph, thereby qualifying it as Category 1. The entire Texas coastline now sits in the path of a rapidly strengthening storm — one that could reach Category 3 status when it makes landfall sometime on Friday. Once the storm hits the mainland U.S., it will stall out while dropping anywhere between 10-20 inches of rain between Saturday and Wednesday.
With Harvey preparing to become the first hurricane to strike Texas since 2008, Gulf of Mexico oil rigs began clearing workers early Thursday, and Weather.com reports that mandatory evacuations have commenced along the Texas coast with several community leaders making the official call:
Widespread evacuations have been ordered along Texas’ Gulf Coast ahead of Hurricane Harvey. Officials in Calhoun County and San Patricio County north of Corpus Christi issued orders on Thursday, along with the mayors of Rockport, Port Aransas, Aransas Pass and Robstown.
Texas authorities are treating Harvey with the utmost seriousness and are encouraging residents to do the same. For 30 counties, Governor Greg Abbott has preemptively declared a state of disaster, so as “to to quickly deploy resources for the emergency response effort in anticipation of the storm’s hazardous conditions.”
After Harvey makes impact, it shall slowly move eastward over Louisiana. During a press conference in New Orleans — which, two weeks ago, saw its heaviest flooding in a decade — Mayor Mitch Landrieu told his city’s residents, “There is no need to panic.” Yet he urged them to prepare now, and other officials agree that an abundance of caution is necessary. By Wednesday, the city could see up to 10 inches of precipitation, and NOLA’s crippled pumping station could contribute to potentially devastating effects.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 24, 2017
This is a developing story, and we will provide further updates on Hurricane Harvey as they arrive.