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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 23 February, 2019
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Millions brace themselves as Hurricane Harvey heads towards Texas

The storm is due to make landfall tomorrow morning.

A sign reading
A sign reading "Be Nice Harvey" was left behind on a boarded up business.
Image: Eric Gay/PA

MILLIONS OF PEOPLE in the US Gulf Coast states of Texas and Louisiana braced for the arrival of Hurricane Harvey as it intensified to category two with winds whipping up to 160 kilometers an hour.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned that Harvey was “rapidly intensifying” and creating a potential for “life-threatening and devastating” floods as it roared toward an area that processes some seven million barrels of oil a day.

The storm’s centre was due to make landfall sometime early tomorrow, with preceding strong winds arriving as early as 8.00am today (2pm Irish time).

If forecasts hold, Harvey would be the strongest hurricane to hit the US mainland in 12 years.

“For anyone who has not already evacuated, please hurry to do so,” the city of Portland, Texas declared on its website in capital letters.

The storm was menacing one-third of the US refining capacity, forcing several energy companies to take precautions and evacuate personnel from oil and gas platforms in the heart of the US region known as Refinery Row.

One oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico was evacuated on Thursday, as well as 39 manned oil and natural gas production platforms, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Those evacuations represented an estimated 9.5% of oil production and 14.7% of natural gas production in the Gulf, the Bureau said.

Floods, storm surges expected

The storm was expected to dump as much as 35 inches of rain in some parts of Texas. Dangerous storm surges were also forecast to reach between six and 12 feet above ground level in the worst-hit regions.

U.S.-TEXAS-HURRICANE HARVEY-PRECAUTIONS An employee holds a sign showing water has sold out in a chained market in Houston, Texas. Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued disaster declarations in 30 counties, saying the preemptive move would allow the state “to quickly deploy resources for the emergency response effort”.

Officials in Houston, the biggest city in the path of the storm, said they did not anticipate issuing evacuation orders, but expected heavy rainfall to last up to five days. City schools cancelled classes since Monday.

“Houston will see close to 20 inches of rainfall,” officials said in a statement. “This is likely to cause dangerous flash flooding, and will cause area flooding throughout the entire Houston region.”

Corpus Christi, a major oil refining centre where the hurricane was projected to make landfall on Saturday morning, issued voluntary evacuation orders. The nearby coastal hamlets of Port Arkansas and Arkansas Pass both ordered mandatory evacuations.

A number of other municipalities in Texas also ordered evacuations.

 © – AFP 2017

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