Hurricane Harvey now a Category 3 storm

HOUSTON (AP) – The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Harvey has strengthened to a Category 3 storm.

The center says Harvey has maximum wind speeds of 120 mph as the powerful storm churns off the Texas coast. Forecasters are labeling it a “life-threatening storm.”

The storm quickly grew Thursday from a tropical depression into a Category 1 hurricane, and then developed into a Category 2 storm early Friday. By Friday afternoon, it had become a Category 3 storm. It’s forecast to make landfall in Texas late Friday or early Saturday.

The slow-moving storm is fueled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters. Forecasters are labeling it a “life-threatening storm” with landfall predicted late Friday or early Saturday between Port O’Connor and Matagorda Bay, a 30-mile stretch of coastline about 70 miles (110 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is warning people that Hurricane Harvey “is going to be a very major disaster.”

Abbott said Friday that he’s asked President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration.

Harvey is forecast to make landfall in Texas late Friday or early Saturday as a Category 3 storm.

Aside from savage winds and storm surges, the system was expected to drop prodigious amounts of rain. The resulting flooding, one expert said, could be “the depths of which we’ve never seen.”

The National Hurricane Center warns that conditions are deteriorating as Hurricane Harvey strengthens and slowly moves toward the Texas coast.

The center says preparations for the storm “should be rushed to completion” Friday morning along Texas’ central Gulf Coast.

The center says the storm has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, just shy of the benchmark for a Category 3 storm. Forecasters say the storm is expected to reach that mark before making landfall late Friday or early Saturday.

Millions of people are bracing for a prolonged battering that could swamp dozens of counties more than 100 miles inland.

Brock Long is the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He tells “Good Morning America” that Harvey is a “very serious” threat and that the window for evacuating is quickly closing.

Long says he expects extensive damage from significant rain over the next three days.

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