White House watching as Harvey now expected to become Cat 3 storm aiming at Texas coast

In a sudden forecast change, the National Hurricane Center today warned residents along the Texas Gulf Coast to prepare for Hurricane Harvey, which forecasters now believe could intensify into a Category three hurricane and strike the Lone Star State, which would make Harvey into the first major hurricane to make landfall on the U.S. coastline since Hurricane Wilma hit southwest Florida in October of 2005.

"Preparations along the middle Texas coast should be rushed to completion today," the Hurricane Center advised on Thursday afternoon, warning again that Harvey was "rapidly intensifying."

"With Harvey now strengthening at a faster rate than indicated in previous advisories, the intensity forecast has become quite concerning," the National Hurricane Center wrote in its advisory issued at 11 am ET on Thursday.

When the day began, forecasters thought Harvey might become a very strong tropical storm - or at most, a minor hurricane - but that changed as several hurricane forecast models showed "Harvey reaching major hurricane intensity."

Harvey was upgraded to hurricane status at 1 pm ET - only two hours after the National Hurricane Center had issued its warning that the storm was intensifying more quickly than had been expected.

The National Hurricane Center was not only warning of strong winds, but also the possibility of a major storm surge along the Texas Gulf Coast..

As for the possibility of Harvey quickly going from a Tropical Storm to a major hurricane, one forecaster said history shows that it is a distinct possibility.

"Keep in mind that the last major to hit around Corpus Christi, Celia in 1970 went from a Cat 1 to Cat 4 in 24 hours," said Joe Bastardi of WeatherBELL.

"Harvey could mimic," Bastardi added.

"The President has been briefed and will continue to be updated as the storm progresses," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said Mr. Trump "stands ready to provide resources if needed" to deal with the hurricane.

Some of the forecast models showed the possibility of several days of tropical storm force winds - with the chance that the storm might reverse field and go back over the Gulf of Mexico, maybe moving up the coast toward Louisiana.

There was even the chance that Harvey might not make landfall - but just stay off the Texas coast, pounding it with high winds and rain for days.

"Yes I'm shouting, this is a dangerous Storm," former FEMA chief Craig Fugate wrote on Twitter.

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