Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has activated about 700 members of the state National Guard ahead of Hurricane Harvey making landfall.
His office said Thursday that Abbott has also spoken with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials as Harvey strengthens into a major hurricane heading toward Texas.
Military helicopters were on standby in Austin and San Antonio in preparation for search and rescues and emergency evacuations. Harvey is set to become the first hurricane to make landfall on the Texas coast since Hurricane Ike in 2008.
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is urging Texans to keep close watch on Harvey. He says "no one should go to bed thinking the track of the storm is set."
The head of the National Weather Service says Hurricane Harvey is "a grave risk to the folks in Texas."
National Weather Service director Louis Uccellini told The Associated Press on Thursday that meteorologists expect "at least a category 3" storm with winds of 111 mph or higher.
Uccellini says "it's a very dangerous storm." He says it's a "potentially impactful storm" that will last over several days and produce large rains from Texas into Louisiana.
Uccellini says Harvey is a risk to people with extremely heavy rainfall that causes inland flooding lasting through the middle of next week, a large storm surge and high winds. A storm surge is an abnormal rise of water above the normal tide, generated by a storm.
Uccellini also notes that the storm is intensifying as it approaches land.