This would be the nation's first Category 3 or stronger hurricane landfall since Hurricane Wilma struck south Florida in October 2005, an almost 12-year run.
UPDATE 4 A.M. FRIDAY
At 4 a.m. CDT Friday, the National Hurricane Center reported that the eye of Hurricane Harvey was located approximately 180 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas. Harvey is moving toward the northwest near 9 mph, and this general motion is expected to continue during the next couple of days.
On the forecast track, Harvey will make landfall on the middle Texas coast tonight or early Saturday. Harvey is then likely to meander near or just inland of the middle Texas coast through the weekend.
Accuweather reported early Friday morning that Harvey is projected to make landfall along the Texas coast on Friday night as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane early Friday morning. The last hurricane to make landfall in Texas was Ike as a Category 2 on Sept. 13, 2008.
The Weather Channel stated in another early morning report:
Harvey may also be the strongest landfall in this area known as the Texas Coastal Bend since the infamous Category 3 Hurricane Celia hammered the Corpus Christi area in August 1970 with wind gusts up to 161 mph, damaging almost 90 percent of the city's businesses and 70 percent of its residences and destroying two hangars at the city's airport.
Maximum sustained winds Friday morning are near 105 mph with higher gusts. Some strengthening is possible, and Harvey is expected to become a major hurricane before it reaches the middle Texas coast.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.
Harvey is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 15 to 25 inches and isolated maximum amounts of 35 inches over the middle and upper Texas coast through next Wednesday. During the same time period Harvey is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 7 to 15 inches in far south Texas and the Texas Hill Country eastward through central and southwest Louisiana, with accumulations of up to 7 inches extending into other parts of Texas and the lower Mississippi Valley. Rainfall from Harvey will cause devastating and life-threatening flooding.
The following watches and warnings are in effect along the Texas coastline:
Storm Surge Warning: Port Mansfield to High Island.
Storm Surge Watch: South of Port Mansfield to the Mouth of the Rio Grande
Hurricane Warning: Port Mansfield to Sargent
Tropical Storm Warning: North of Sargent to High Island and South of Port Mansfield to the Mouth of the Rio Grande
Hurricane Watch: South of Port Mansfield to the Mouth of the Rio Grande
Tropical Storm Watch: South of the Mouth of the Rio Grande to Boca de Catan, Mexico
A Storm Surge Warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline during the next 36 hours in the indicated locations. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions.
A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case within the next 12 to 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.
A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.
As Hurricane Harvey barrelled toward the Texas coast Thursday, local officials were keeping an eye on the weather and bracing for potential impacts from the storm.
The latest hurricane models have the bulk of Harvey’s force hitting the Texas Gulf Coast sometime late Friday. Some models predict the system will take a sharp turn to the east when it hits Texas and head toward Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.
Forecasters expect Harvey to intensify into a major hurricane, with sustained winds at greater than 110 mph when it hits Texas.
Walton County Emergency Management Director Jeff Goldberg said officials have been tracking Harvey since it was a tropical system in the Atlantic Ocean, and while he suspects most of the bad weather will stay in Texas and not make its way to Florida, he acknowledged that these types of weather systems can be unpredictable.
“We’re obviously keeping an eye on it,” Goldberg said. “We’ve been getting updates from the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service and staying in contact with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and the state has been in contact with state of Texas officials to see if there are any needs we can help them with when they get hit. But as far as us, it’s really too early to tell what’s going to happen."
Goldberg encouraged Northwest Florida residents to observe a normal level of caution for Hurricane Harvey and to follow the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of local emergency management officials to stay abreast of things.
“Our message we’ve been sending to everybody is to watch the tropics, listen to us and be prepared,” Goldberg said. “If it looks like it’s going to be heading this way, we will increase our operational tempo based upon what the forecast is looking like.”
Okaloosa County Director of Public Safety Alvin Henderson also said his office will keep an eye on the storm and watch to see if and how it affects Northwest Florida. He said residents could begin seeing residue from Harvey as early as Friday afternoon.
“(The hurricane) could be influenced in different ways, but right now it looks as though the worst-case scenario (for Northwest Florida) would be some heavy rains early next week and also possibly rip currents that could start as early as tomorrow (Friday) afternoon,” Henderson said. “We are watching the hurricane to see what it is going to do, especially as it makes landfall.”
Santa Rosa County emergency management officials also are watching the system closely, according to Director Brad Baker.
“It looks like our impact will be the first of next week,” he said. “We will see some increase in surf, especially Friday evening, but other than that our impact will be limited until it makes that northeast turn, and then we will definitely be monitoring it and keeping an eye out.”
Henderson said Harvey is a reminder that hurricane season is in full swing, with September historically being the most active month for tropical activity.
“It’s good to make sure you have your emergency plans in place and you have your ‘go kit’ ready in the event the storm would build and potentially make a turn and come towards us in Okaloosa County,” he said. “This is not an exact science. These storms can move, and a little difference in wind shears and water temperatures can push these storms in different patterns.”