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Storm surge is Harvey’s first threat — and the water is rising
Luis Perez watches waves crash again a jetty in Galveston, Tex., as Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico Friday. Harvey is forecast to be a major hurricane when it makes landfall along the middle of the Texas coast. (David J. Phillip/AP)

With a major hurricane poised near the Texas coast and expected to stall for several days, it’s essentially a worst case-scenario for beach-side communities in the path of Hurricane Harvey.

While destructive winds and nearly unprecedented rainfall amounts will lash the Gulf Coast, a devastating storm surge will roar ashore Friday into Saturday, raising the sea up to 12 feet above normally-dry land.

Contrary to popular belief, a storm surge is not a wave of water, but rather the gradual rise of sea levels thanks to water blown by the storm, and due to an upward tidal bulge resulting from the storm’s exceptionally low pressure.

The most devastating impacts will be felt on the north side of the storm, particularly Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and the Matagorda Bay up toward Freeport and Lake Jackson. Communities on either side of this stretch will still experience moderate to major storm surge flooding.

Read more about Harvey’s storm surge from the Capital Weather Gang.

Hurricane Harvey updates: Texas hit by powerful storm, heavy rain

Hurricane Harvey is on track to be the strongest storm to strike the United States in 12 years. It’s forecast to make landfall on the Texas coast late Friday or early Saturday. Follow along for updates on preparations, evacuations and forecasts.

Visit the Capital Weather Gang for more on the storm.

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