Hurricane Harvey: Powerful Storm Makes Landfall in Texas
Albanian Daily News
Published August 26, 2017
Tornado and flash-flood warnings and watches were issued for the Houston area as rains intensified overnight. As Harvey made landfall some 200 miles southwest on Friday night, bands of rain and wind arrived in the Houston region, bringing wildly varying amounts of rain: from under an inch in some places to five inches and more elsewhere, according to the Harris County Flood Warning System.
At least one tornado was reported to have damaged homes.
Despite a suggestion at a Friday press conference, from the governor, Greg Abbott, that residents should consider leaving, officials have not called for an evacuation, though there are fears of sustained heavy rainfall that could bring widespread flooding to a place dubbed the Bayou City for the number of rivers that run through it. Forecasts indicated Harvey could bring as much as 25-35 inches of rain over a period of several days to one of the country's most flood-prone cities. On Saturday the National Weather Service warned of "record-setting rainfall" throughout Wednesday.
An area from the coast to the far northern reaches of Houston's suburbs, 125 miles away, was under a flash-flood warning early on Saturday. A local energy provider reported nearly 62,000 customers were without electricity at 6.30am.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on Friday night, and has now stalled over the south-east of the state, where it is pummelling the Gulf Coast with strong winds and heavy rain. Experts fear it could stay in place for days, causing extensive damage.
Forecasters predict life-threatening storm surges and "catastrophic and life-threatening flooding" for the state, with up to three feet of rain forecast.
It hit the coast as a category 4 storm - the fiercest to hit the US in more than a decade with 130mph winds. But it has since been downgraded to category 1 and the winds have dropped to 90mph.
Tens of thousands of residents have fled inland. No deaths had been confirmed by Saturday morning local time, but emergency crews could not get to many places due to the high winds.
More than 100,000 people are without power, and people in the city of Corpus Christie - the major city closest to the storm's center - have been urged to boil their water. Reports of significant damage are emerging in Rockport, which was directly in Harvey's path when it came ashore. The mayor urged residents who chose to stay to write their social security numbers on their arms to make it easier for rescuers to identify them.
Even if the storm retreats to the Gulf of Mexico in a few days, meteorologists fear it could turn back to land for a second assault.
There was some confusion in Houston, after Texas governor, Greg Abbott, urged people to flee, but the city authorities told people to remain in their homes, saying there might be a greater danger in having people who don't need to be evacuated on roads that could flood. All seven Texas counties on the coast from Corpus Christi to the western end of Galveston Island ordered mandatory evacuations from low-lying areas. Four counties ordered full evacuations and warned there was no guarantee of rescue for people staying behind.
The storm poses the first major emergency management test for Donald Trump, who signed a disaster proclamation on Friday night, releasing federal response funds and resources, and has been tweeting about the storm on Saturday morning. The president will remember the damage caused to George W Bush's reputation by his slow response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in Louisiana. His Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) chief, Brock Long, was only confirmed on 20 June, three weeks into the Atlantic hurricane season, and the president has not yet nominated a permanent head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which plays a key role in weather forecasting.
Swells generated by Harvey are affecting the Texas, Louisiana, and north-east Mexico coasts. Multiple tornado warnings have been issued and one has been spotted at Sienna Plantation just south of Houston. Tornadoes are possible throughout Saturday in middle and upper Texas and far south-west Louisiana.
(Source: The Guardian)