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article imageTexas bracing for a powerful Hurricane Harvey this weekend

By Karen Graham     Aug 24, 2017 in Environment
Corpus Christi - tropical Storm Harvey is expected to rapidly gain strength and hit the Texas coast as a Category 3 hurricane by Friday evening, causing devastating flooding and threatening the energy industry and oil production.
The National Hurricane Center's latest update on Tropical Storm Harvey, now upgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane, puts the center of the storm about 365 miles (590 kilometers) southeast of Corpus Christie, Texas and about 360 miles (580 kilometers) south-southeast of Port O'Connor, Texas, packing maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph). The minimum central pressure is 979 MB, 28.91 inches.
Hurricane warnings have already been issued for parts of the Texas coast, from north of Port Mansfield to Matagorda, including the city of Corpus Christi. This means that preparations for the storm should be completed by Thursday night. This is important because with the storm strengthening so rapidly, tropical to hurricane-strength winds may be affecting these areas as soon as noontime on Friday.
CC Licence: Attrition  No deriv.
CC Licence: Attrition, No deriv.
Eric Berger
First Hurricane to hit Texas coast in almost nine years
The last hurricane to come ashore on the Texas coast was the infamous Hurricane Ike, a Category 2 storm that devastated the Upper Texas Coast. Of the total of 15 hurricanes that have hit Texas since 1950, according to NHC historical records, only four of them occurred in this century.
The four included Claudette in July 2003, Humberto in September 2007, Dolly in July 2008 and Ike in September 2008. While striking the upper Texas coast, Rita in 2005 officially made landfall in Louisiana.
With the warm deep water of the Gulf, along with low wind shear, the conditions are perfect for Harvey to make landfall as a Category 3 Hurricane. The last time the continental U.S. saw a Cat. 3 was when Wilma hit South Florida in October 2005, an almost 12-year run.
Harvey is a dangerous hurricane
The NHC issued its first ever public storm surge warning this early in its updates. This means a life-threatening storm surge is expected in the warned area in the next 36 hours.
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, with surges expected to be anywhere from two feet to above 12 feet. 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.
Flask Flood Watches have been issued for a wide area of the Southeast U.S.
Flask Flood Watches have been issued for a wide area of the Southeast U.S.
NWS
Perhaps the greatest danger will occur with the expected rainfall causing devastating flooding. Rainfall is expected to range from 2 to so inches with some areas getting up to 30 inches of rain. This will come to pass because Harvey is forecast to stall between two areas of high pressure this weekend once it moves inland.
This means that if Harvey stalls for a period of a few days, as expected, it will produce prolific rainfall, capable of dangerous, perhaps catastrophic flash flooding. Right now, areas near the Texas and southwest Louisiana Gulf coasts are under the biggest threat for torrential rainfall and major flash flooding, potentially including Houston and Corpus Christi.
Energy industry and oil producers threatened
Some petroleum companies have already pulled employees from work sites surrounding the Gulf of Mexico, like Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. The heavy rainfall and flooding are expected to bring refineries and oil production to a halt.
Texas has 29 petroleum refineries with a carrying a capacity of more than 5.4 million barrels of crude oil every day, making up 30 percent of total U.S. refining capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
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