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Your questions about Hurricane Harvey, answered
Hurricane Harvey on Friday morning. (NOAA/NASA)

By all predictions, Hurricane Harvey will be a historic storm for Southeast Texas. Multiple feet of rain, as much as 12 feet of storm surge and up to 120 mph winds are among the list of impacts. Thousands of customers will be without power for days, well inland from the coast.

We’ve received questions from hundreds of readers about the severity of this storm and its impacts. Here are your questions, answered:

How long will this last?

Hurricane Harvey is not your average hurricane. It’s going to last multiple days. There are some projections that make us think the storm could still be over Southeast Texas on Tuesday or Wednesday. People in this region should be prepared for at least three days of terrible weather.

How much rain is expected and what will be its impact?

As much as 2-3 FEET of rain, although we don’t know exactly where the highest totals will end up falling. Southeast Texas from Corpus Christi to Houston is at risk of major flash flooding and river flooding, including areas that are 5-6 counties inland.

When will the storm be the worst?

Unfortunately there’s no point in time where we can say “this is the worst the storm will get.” Your worst impacts will depend on your location. This is also going to last a long time — several days — and it’s possible things could get better and then worse again.

For this reason, we’re encouraging everyone who can to evacuate the area before conditions deteriorate.

What does it mean that Harvey will be a Category 3 hurricane?

Category 3 is right in the middle of the Saffir Simpson Scale, which runs from 1 to 5. But that doesn’t mean it’s just a “moderate” hurricane. Once it hits Cat 3, we start calling it a “major hurricane” because that’s the point at which DEVASTATING damage will occur:

Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

Storm surge—how many feet expected and why are these so dangerous?

Up to 12 feet of storm surge is expected. The largest surge will happen to the right of the center of the storm.

Storm surge is ocean water that’s pushed onto land by hurricane wind. In a sense, it is simply a very big flood. When forecasts say storm surge could reach 12 feet, it means water in those locations could climb to 12 feet above your head, or the combined height of two tall people.

What is the timing and area of landfall?

Harvey is already starting to impact the coastal areas with rain. Landfall will happen tonight into tomorrow morning, but landfall won’t matter too much in this storm since it’s going to linger in the same area for so long.

Is it true that the storm could make a second landfall?

Yes, there are some indications that the storm’s center may drift back out over the Gulf, potentially restrengthen, and then come ashore again. In any case, the message is the same: a long-duration flood, surge and wind event.

Why will this last for so many days?

Harvey is going to stall simply because there will be nothing in the atmosphere to push it away. Hurricanes need the jet stream to come through and push it out. If the jet stream doesn’t dip far enough south, it won’t be able to pick up the storm and push it away. That’s basically what the weather models are predicting.

Where are the open shelter locations?

The Red Cross will be opening shelters as-needed. You can find the list and location of currently-open shelters on their website.

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.