Hurricane Harvey: Texas braces for category three storm

Media captionForecasters have labeled Harvey a “life-threatening storm”

Texas is bracing itself for Hurricane Harvey – the worst storm to hit the US mainland in 12 years.

The category-two hurricane, currently in the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to make landfall along the state’s central coast on Friday night.

The National Hurricane Center said storm surges may bring life-threatening floods to Houston and surrounding area.

The storm has the potential for up to 3ft of rain, 130mph (210km/h) winds and 12ft storm surges, say forecasters.

Harvey – which has been gaining strength – will also strike at the heart of Texas’s oil refining industry.

Energy companies have been evacuating staff from offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, while on land Texan oil refineries are shutting down in preparation for the storm.

As a result, US fuel prices have reached a three week-high.

Texas governor Greg Abbot has declared a state of emergency in 30 counties.

More than 700 members of the Texas Army and Air National Guards have been activated.

Meanwhile, communities in the projected path of the storm are preparing for its arrival.

Joe McComb, mayor of Corpus Christi, a coastal town, urged householders to take the warnings seriously and evacuate low-lying areas.

“I hope people will listen to forecasters when they say ‘beware of flash floods,” he said. “Flash floods can come quickly, and they can be deadly.”

According to the National Hurricane Center, the wind speed is currently almost 110mph, though gusts are even stronger.

If it does make landfall as a category-three storm, it will be the strongest storm to hit the US since October 2005, when Hurricane Wilma struck the coast of Florida.

Wilma left 87 people dead, and was part of a record-breaking hurricane season that included Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and killed nearly 2,000 people in August of that year.

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