Harvey Slams Ashore in Texas; Catastrophic Flood Threat Still to Come
Hurricane Harvey ripped into the central Texas coast as a Category 4 storm late Friday night. Harvey’s center made landfall just before 10 pm CDT about 4 miles east of Rockport with top sustained winds estimated by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) at 130 mph, which is minimal Category 4 strength.
Harvey is the first Category 4 storm to strike the U.S. since Hurricane Charley in 2004, and the first major hurricane (defined as Category 3 or stronger at landfall) since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Several more recent hurricanes that reached land without Category 3 winds were still large and powerful enough to deliver a devastating storm surge, including Ike (2008) and Sandy (2012).
Harvey’s main eyewall ground slowly through the regional resort town of Rockport late Friday as the storm crept onshore, moving northwest at about 7 mph. Rockport mayor pro tem Patrick Rios expressed concern on Friday afternoon that several thousand of the city’s 9,500 residents may have stayed in place, and he said the city was preparing for as many as 10 fatalities.
Only about 15 miles west of Port Aransas, the city of Corpus Christi got blasted with high winds late Friday night, and more than 40,000 power outages were reported across the surrounding county. However, Corpus Christi narrowly escaped a brush with the eyewall—which is especially fortunate given that mandatory evacuation orders were never issued for the city. Meanwhile, in the other direction from Harvey’s core, a cluster of intense thunderstorms battered western parts of the Houston area, with at least one tornadic circulation evident on radar late Friday night.
Harvey’s storm surge was still increasing late Friday night. Here are the highest totals as of 10 pm CDT:
Port Aransas, 5.3’
Port Lavaca, 4.8’
Corpus Christi, 4.4’