Hurricane Harvey has been downgraded to Category 1, but not before it landed Friday night as a Category 4 storm and wreaked havoc along the coast of Texas.
The storm is considered the strongest to hit the state in decades, with sustained winds of 130 miles an hour. The last Category 4 storm to hit Texas was Carla in 1961.
During the overnight hours, Harvey was downgraded to Category 3 — and made a second landfall along the northeastern shore of Copano Bay — before being downgraded all the way to Category 1 as it weakened. But even as a Category 1 storm, sustaining winds are still around 90 mph. By Saturday morning, Harvey had already moved to settle over southeast Texas, dumping 9 inches of rain and knocking out power to more than 200,000 residents in the area.
The storm is expected to bring large-scale damage to the area and its effects are expected to be felt for the next several days. Meteorologists have said heavy rainfall will continue through next week, with estimates from the National Weather Service of as high as 40 inches in some areas. Surge waters could reach between 9 and 13 feet above ground level, and catastrophic flooding is also expected in parts of the area. Texas is also home to many oil refineries and chemical plants, and the impact of Harvey on the local economy is expected to be felt for months to come.
Early reports said ten individuals in Rockport, a coastal city, were taken to the hospital Friday night after the roof of a senior citizen housing complex collapsed. A local high school was also said to be damaged. More than 120,000 residents in Corpus Christi, the city closest to Harvey’s eye, lost power.
According to National Weather Service forecasts, Harvey could make a second landfall in northeastern Texas or western Louisiana, according to some forecast models.
In preparation, residents in the storm’s path — such as in Corpus Christi — were told to head out to safer areas, and those who elected to stay were stocking up on food, water and gas in the days leading up to the storm. States of emergencies were declared Friday in 30 Texas counties and statewide for Louisiana. Planned activities such as concerts in coastal cities — Houston is one — were cancelled, while airlines canceled flights. It wasn’t immediately clear which shopping centers would be closed. A call to Houston Premium Outlets in Houston early Saturday was directed to a recording that said the center would open today at 10 a.m. local time. However, calls to individual stores later in the day – Calvin Klein, Chico’s and Coach – were unanswered, suggesting that the center was closed for the day due to the storm. Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, is considered flood-prone. The Coast Guard on Thursday ordered the nearly total closure of ports in Houston, Texas City, Galveston, Freeport and Corpus Christi.
President Donald Trump is planning a visit to Texas “early next week,” according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.