'Catastrophic' Hurricane Harvey threatens Texas as it strengthens to Category 4

ASSOCIATED PRESS
HOUSTON
Published 25.08.2017 22:17
Updated 26.08.2017 14:36
Traffic lights lie on a street after being knocked down, as Hurricane Harvey approaches in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017 (AP Photo)
Traffic lights lie on a street after being knocked down, as Hurricane Harvey approaches in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017 (AP Photo)

Hurricane Harvey smashed into Texas late Friday, lashing a wide swath of the Gulf Coast with strong winds and torrential rain from the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade.

The National Hurricane Center said the eye of the Category 4 hurricane made landfall about 10 p.m. about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi, bringing with it 130 mph (209 kph) sustained winds and flooding rains.

Harvey's approach sent tens of thousands of residents fleeing the Gulf Coast, hoping to escape the wrath of a menacing storm that threatened an area of Texas including oil refineries, chemical plants and dangerously flood-prone Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had warned that the monster system would be "a very major disaster," and the predictions drew fearful comparisons to Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest ever to strike the U.S.

Reports of damage began to emerge from Rockport, a coastal city of about 10,000 people that was directly in the path of Harvey when it came ashore.

City manager Kevin Carruth said multiple people were taken to the county's jail for assessment and treatment after the roof of a senior housing complex collapsed. KIII-TV reports that 10 people have been treated there. The Associated Press was unable to reach an operator at the Aransas County Detention Center in Rockport just after midnight. Carruth also said that Rockport's historic downtown area has seen extensive damage.

National Hurricane Center spokesman and meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said, "We're using every synonym we can find in the book. We hope they realize that this can kill them. And they need to get out of its way."

The storm quickly grew Thursday from a tropical depression into a Category 1 hurricane, and then developed into a Category 2 storm early Friday. By Friday afternoon, it had become a Category 3 storm. It's forecast to make landfall in Texas late Friday or early Saturday.

The slow-moving storm is fueled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters. Forecasters are labeling it a "life-threatening storm" with landfall predicted late Friday or early Saturday between Port O'Connor and Matagorda Bay, a 30-mile (48-kilometer) stretch of coastline about 70 miles (110 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi.

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