Latest Updates of Hurricane Harvey landing in Texas. (Watch live video)
Hurricane Harvey weakens slightly to category 3 storm
Several hours after making landfall, the storm has weakened ever so slightly but this is very much a technical difference – its maximum sustained winds have eased from 130mph to 125mph. It is still moving north-west, at the slightly slower pace of 6mph. This is the big problem: the slower it moves, the more rain falls in a single area, increasing the chance of catastrophic flooding.
National Hurricane Center issues Harvey summary
The National Hurricane Center has sent out a detailed bulletin on Hurricane Harvey so far. Here are the main points:
- Harvey made landfall at Rockport as a category 4 storm and “catastrophic flooding” is expected due to heavy rainfall and a storm surge.
- It has maximum sustained winds of 130mph (215km/h) and is moving north-west at 7mph. It is expected to slow down and linger over south-eastern Texas for the next few days.
- It is expected to dump up to 30 inches (76cm) of rain, with 40 inches in isolated areas of middle and upper Texas through to Wednesday. This would cause “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding”.
- Storm surges of up to 13ft (4 metres) plus destructive waves are expected between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor if it combines with high tide.
- Swells generated by Harvey are affecting the Texas, Louisiana, and north-east Mexico coasts. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip currents.
- Tornadoes are possible through Saturday near the middle and upper Texas coast into far south-west Louisiana
The roof of a seniors housing complex has collapsed in Rockport, say authorities, with an unknown number of people taken to a nearby jail for medical assessment. The courthouse and high school there have also suffered significant damage. The injury tally for the area so far has been reported as 10.
A tornado warning has been issued (in Spanish and English) for the area just directly south of Houston
Hurricane Harvey could have significant economic as well as humanitarian impact. Already, gas stations across southern Texas have started to run out of fuel and gas prices have spiked. This is down to a combination of panic buying and the closure of a fifth of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.
More than 45% of the country’s refining capacity is along the US Gulf coast, and nearly a fifth of the nation’s crude oil is produced offshore. The Associated Press reports that ports across a 200-mile stretch running from Corpus Christi north to Texas City were closed to incoming vessels and that Shell, Anadarko Petroleum Corp, Exxon Mobil and others have evacuated staff from offshore oil and gas platforms.
The US government has said it would make emergency stockpiles of crude available if needed to ease disruption. It has regularly used them to dampen the impact of previous storms on energy supplies.
In Victoria, about 85 miles (137km) north of where the storm hit the coast, mayor Paul Polasek told CNN he estimated that 60 to 65% of the town’s 65,000 residents defied the mandatory evacuation order.
Reports of damage are starting to filter in, though we are unable to confirm them at this stage. Rockport high school has reportedly suffered significant damage, large fishing boats have been pushed inland at Port Aransas and the waterfront there has been devastated.
Rockport, where Hurricane Harvey made landfall, has enjoyed relative piece in the eye of the storm but it appears the back end of the storm is about to hit.
Thousands of Corpus Christi residents have opted to leave the city. They gathered at the city’s gym, where they were registered and taken by bus to San Antonio. Officials have no idea how many people decided to remain in Corpus Christi after the voluntary evacuation announcement.