Hurricane Harvey strengthens to Category 2; evacuations underway
By Nicole Chavez and Joe Sterling, CNN
(CNN)As heavy rain and gusty winds move in over Texas, coastal residents were deciding Friday morning whether to flee or to stay put and brace for a potentially life-threatening storm.
Hurricane Harvey was “dangerously approaching the Texas Coast” and expected to bring as much as 35 inches of rain and storm-surge flooding that could reach a depth of 6 to 12 feet along the coast, the National Hurricane Center said.
Conditions are “expected to deteriorate through the day,” the center said. “Preparations along the middle Texas coast should be rushed to completion this morning.”
Forecasters say Harvey is on track to become a Category 3 hurricane with winds of at least 111 mph by the time it makes landfall around Corpus Christi late Friday or early Saturday.
It’s then expected to stall over the state, broadening the flood threat, forecasters said.
“All indications from the hurricane center are that this is going to be the first major hurricane the nation has dealt with since 2005,” FEMA Director Brock Long said.
— Harvey strengthened early Friday, becoming a Category 2 hurricane with winds up to 110 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
— Isolated tornadoes are possible Friday across portions of the middle and upper Texas coast, the service said.
— Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has requested the activation of 700 National Guard members.
— The Ports of Corpus Christi and Galveston are closed.
— Three Galveston-based cruise ships in the Gulf of Mexico diverted to safer water.
Corpus Christi residents board up homes and businesses in preparation for Hurricane Harvey.