With Tropical Storm Harvey strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico and forecast to trigger dangerous flooding in portions of Texas and Louisiana, officials have begun urging the public to begin preparations.
About 10-20 inches of rain could fall over a large part of southern and eastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana from from Friday into early next week, according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski. More than 2 feet could fall at the local level, he added.
10:45 a.m. CDT Thursday: People in Texas are braving long lines for storm supplies ahead of Harvey’s arrival. Some gas stations are running out of fuel as drivers wait to fill up their tanks.
The wait has also been lengthy for obtaining sandbags in preparation for Harvey’s heavy downpours and dangerous flooding.
10:20 a.m. CDT Thursday: Texas A & M University has issued a mandatory evacuation for the Corpus Christi campus, effective immediately. The campus will be closed from noon until at least Sunday.
Flight delays and airline cancellations will mount into this weekend. Portions of Interstate 10, I-37 and I-45 may be forced to close near the Texas coast as flooding commences.
A power loss in the local area may prevent ATMs and cell towers from operating.
Economic impact from Harvey may extend well beyond the local level. In addition to power outages shutting down gas stations in the area for an extended period, refineries in the path of the storm may have to shut down, which may push fuel prices up.
On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a preemptive state of disaster declaration for 30 counties in the state while Harvey was still a depression. Earlier in the day, Abbott ordered the state operations center to elevate its readiness level.
“Texans believe in taking action and always being prepared in the event of an emergency,” Abbott said. "Preemptively declaring a state of disaster will allow Texas to quickly deploy resources for the emergency response effort in anticipation of the storm's hazardous conditions.”
Tropical storm warnings have been issued for much of the Texas coast, with hurricane warnings in effect for a smaller portion, which includes Corpus Christi.
The Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), activated its Crisis Action Team and Gov. John Bel Edwards was monitoring the situation.
“This is the time of year we typically see an increase in tropical activity,” said GOHSEP director Jim Waskom. “We encourage everyone to use this time in order to re-check your emergency supplies and finalize your emergency plans.
In New Orleans, city officials are working with local, state and federal partners on ways to keep the public safe. Residents should prepare for possibly power outages, officials said. That includes stocking at least three days worth of supplies, such as food, medicine and water.
On Saturday night, the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints will play a preseason game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
"Even thought the game is indoors, and away from the worst of the storm, fans may still encounter travel delays and flooded roadways as they head west," AccuWeather Meteorologist Courtney Spamer said.
Due to the threat for storm surge, Padre Island National Seashore said it will close north and south beaches starting at 12 p.m. Thursday. The park said it will reassess when the beaches would reopen.
Many residents have already begun heeding the warnings as evidenced by the many empty store shelves that were seen around parts of southern Texas.