MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hurricane Harvey is quickly making its way towards the coast of Texas and is expected to be a Category 3 hurricane when it makes landfall Friday night.
With winds predicted to be greater than 111 miles per hour and rainfall close to three feet in some areas – it looks to be the most powerful storm to make landfall in the United States since 2005.
Residents of Corpus Christi are being urged to evacuate immediately. Babies from a neonatal intensive care unit in Corpus Christi were flown north to safety on Thursday. Hotel consultant Jeff Delong said he’s making sure people get out.
“Hopefully it won’t be that bad but it looks like it’s not going to be fun,” he said.
Many people took the city up on its offer to leave town for free. Hundreds board school buses Friday morning and were taken to an evacuation center in San Antonio.
The National Hurricane Center called the still strengthening storm “life threatening.”
It’s expected to bring perilous wind, historic flooding and destructive storm surge along the Texas Gulf Coast.
“We expect as much as six to 12 feet rise of water,” said Ed Rappaport, Deputy Director at the National Hurricane Center.
In the flood-prone city of Houston, Harvey could be a catastrophic event if the storm surge is just a bit higher. The Houston ship channel is the second-largest oil and gas complex in the world.
“We could see the worst environmental disaster in United States history and would probably shutdown and cause a major gap in gasoline,” said Jim Blackburn with the Center for Severe Storm Prediction at Rice University.
“As if Harvey making landfall isn’t enough, weather models show the storm stalling out and staying in southeast Texas for several days; dumping as much as 35 inches of rain on some areas.
Coastal residents are taking Harvey seriously. Many boarded up their homes and stocked up on supplies as officials urged them to get out and head as far inland as possible.
“The more I watch of it the more I’m just not going to take that chance,” said Roland Casrez who decided to heed the warning and evacuate.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a preemptive state of disaster in 30 counties. He also activated about 700 members of the state National Guard. Military helicopters are on standby in Austin and San Antonio in preparation for search and rescues and emergency evacuations.