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Hurricane Harvey

Texas coastal residents urged to leave as Harvey wind speeds rise to 125 mph

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Updated August 24, 2017 09:54 PM EDT

Harvey grew into a hurricane on Thursday and authorities have reinforced their warnings as wind speeds have risen to 125 mph. Harvey could potentially be the fiercest hurricane to hit the United States in years.

Such strong gusts are expected to be accompanied by 3 feet of rain and 12-foot storm surges.

Forecasters have called Harvey a "life-threatening storm" and say that million of people could be swamped as the storm moves through counties inland.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

Updated August 24, 2017 01:50 PM EDT

The National Hurricane Center has issued an advisory on Thursday, instructing Texas residents along the Gulf of Mexico coast to "rush" their preparations as hurricane Harvey strengthens.

The hurricane is forecast to become a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph, according to National Hurricane Center.

The center reported Thursday afternoon that the tropical storm will make landfall late Friday night or early Saturday morning along the south-central Texas coast.

"Harvey has intensified quickly this morning, and is now forecast to be a major hurricane at landfall, bringing life-threatening storm surge, rainfall, and wind hazards to portions of the Texas coast," the center wrote.

People residing like coastal cities like Corpus Christi were encouraged to evacuate from their homes on Thursday. The mayor Joe McComb, called for people to leave in the "strongest possible terms."

Some are surprised how much the hurricane has strengthened.

A hurricane warning was issued for the Texas coast early Thursday, blanketing an area from Port Mansfield to Matagorda.

Forecasters indicated that Harvey could become a hurricane after regaining tropical storm strength and began drifting towards the Gulf of Mexico. Harvey’s maximum sustained winds increased to near 60 mph Thursday, re-establishing its status as a tropical storm.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said additional strengthening is expected, resulting in Harvey emerging as a hurricane by the time its expected to reach Texas’s southern coast Friday.

Some Twitter users on Thursday voiced alarm over Harvey, while others noted its name’s resemblance to comedian Steve Harvey.

Harvey was centered about 335 miles southeast of Port Mansfield around 8 a.m. local time Thursday and heading north-northwest at about 10 mph.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered the State Operations Center to elevate its readiness level, freeing up resources there for possible rescue and recovery maneuvers. The governor also pre-emptively declared a state of disaster for 30 counties on or near the Texas coast to speed the deployment of state resources to those impacted.

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Texas emergency officials on Wednesday asked residents along the state’s upper coastline to relocate or prepare to head inland. People in low-lying areas were urged to seek higher ground, and individuals elsewhere were instructed to closely follow official announcements.

Rice farmers in coastal Matagorda County late Wednesday rushed to harvest their crops as Harvey nears. People on South Padre Island, for their part, filled sandbags that evening to protect exposed businesses and houses from the storm. Other locations in the forecast path, finally, sought out generators, plywood and other goods from hardware stores as a safety precaution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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