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BREAKING NEWS: #HurricaneHarvey is now considered a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph

Hurricane Harvey likely to be 'catastrophic,' 'life-threatening,' forecasters warn


As "catastrophic" Hurricane Harvey churns toward Texas, bringing with it a "life-threatening storm surge," major cities have devolved into ghost towns while authorities use their last hours before landfall to warn of the chaos to come.

 A tornado warning was issued for Galveston on Friday. Harvey is now considered a Category 4, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), as it prepares to make landfall late Friday or early Saturday. It has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. Flooding could reach heights of 6 to 12 feet above ground level along the Texas coast, according to the NHC, and nearly three feet of rain could fall in some regions.

Authorities are anticipating extensive damage, including "structural damage to sturdy buildings" and "complete destruction of mobile homes," according to a bulletin from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Corpus Christi. Damage is likely to be "greatly accentuated by large airborne projectiles. Locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months." At least one county, Nueces, is expected to be without power for up to a week.

Normally bustling with residents and tourists, Houston's Galleria was nearly vacant Friday afternoon, with the parking lots about 80 percent empty.

"Not worth it," Janelle Givens told Fox News about forgoing her shopping experience at the glitzy Galleria.

At Houston's University Co-op shop, the manager told a Fox News reporter: "You're brave. I think we're going home early."

Another associate said, "We all live pretty far away and flooding here's a real concern. My mother is all alone. I have to make sure she's okay."

At The Texas Medical Center (TMC), the largest medical complex in the world, preparations were being put in place for the expected deluge to come.

"I'm never surprised by the weather in Texas," said William McKeon, president and CEO of TMC. "The hurricane is elevating in strength over us. We're not so much concerned with the wind as we are with it stalling over us. It's daunting to think of how much rain we could get."

McKeon said the hospital had emergency plans in place and had been working with the city on communications and worst-case scenario preps. Some hospitals on the coast, meanwhile, have been evacuating patients, FOX7 Austin reported.

The "federal government is on site and ready to respond," President Donald Trump said on Friday.

The tweet from the president followed an earlier one in which he noted that he was "closely watching" the path of the hurricane. "Just arrived at Camp David where I am closely watching the path and doings of Hurricane Harvey, as it strengthens to a Category 3," the president tweeted. "BE SAFE!"

Earlier on Friday, Trump said that he had spoke with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and was monitoring the situation. 

 "I have spoken w/ @GovAbbott of Texas and @LouisianaGov Edwards. Closely monitoring #HurricaneHarvey developments & here to assist as needed," Trump tweeted.
Landfall was predicted for late Friday or early Saturday between Port O'Connor and Matagorda Bay, a 30-mile stretch of coastline about 70 miles northeast of Corpus Christi.

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