Hurricane Harvey barrels towards Texas coast; could be major hurricane

Harvey heading for Texas

TEXAS -- Harvey has its sights set on the Texas coast and that could prove devastating for many communities.

A special advisory 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, from the National Hurricane Center says Harvey has reached hurricane status as an 80-mph storm. It's moving north-northwest at 10 mph and is about 340 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas.

The minimum central pressure found by NOAA's Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft is down to 981 mb -- a lower pressure than the early morning update, meaning the storm is getting stronger.

It's forecast to strengthen further: Forecasters predict Harvey will be a major, Category 3 hurricane at landfall, with wind speeds in excess of 115 mph. If this forecast verifies, this would be the first major hurricane to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Wilma made landfall in Florida in October 2005.

Wind and heavy storm surge aren't the only threats: the latest rainfall forecast from NOAA's Weather Prediction Center paints an area of rain in excess of 15 inches for many areas, including Houston and locations just north of Corpus Christi.

Although rainfall amounts have yet to verify -- of course, the storm has yet to make landfall -- computer models are honing in on this area to receive the heaviest rain. Some changes are possible, so keep checking the latest forecast.

Why such a high amount? For tropical cyclones to flourish, at the very least, water temperatures need to be at least 80 degrees. Harvey will be moving over an area of temperatures nearing 90 degrees, and that creates a high evaporation rate.

Ultimately, all that water must come down and fall as rain, and Harvey will be sitting over southeast Texas for at least two days.

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More: CHECKLIST: Your hurricane season supply kit

A hurricane warning is in effect for Port Mansfield to Matagorda. In addition, a tropical storm warning is in effect for Matagorda to High Island and Port Mansfield to the Rio Grande.

Photos: Harvey forecast to strengthen, dump heavy rain on Texas

KHOU-TV reports Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for 30 counties in anticipation of Harvey making landfall. 

Hurricane Harvey won't have any immediate impacts on Tampa Bay's weather, but heavy thunderstorms are possible as a disturbance hangs over south Florida. 

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