SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — While the brunt of Hurricane Harvey will be felt along the Texas coast, the impact of the devastating storm in the Bay Area could be at the gas pump.
Harvey has taken aim at one of the prime gasoline processing areas of the country. Several refineries have already shut down in Corpus Christi in preparation for the storm’s arrival Friday, while a major refining hub in Houston continues to operate, but will come under attack from Harvey’s drenching downpours over the weekend and into early next week.
“This storm came out of left field and while we were all watching the eclipse, Harvey was gaining steam and pushing forward,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. “The impact on Texas could be significant, which could lead to long-term issues in terms of gasoline supply for large portions of the country.”
GasBuddy officials said the worst case scenario would involve extensive damage in the refining hub of Houston. Rain and storm surge are the largest threats to refineries in that area with the National Weather Service predicting rainfall rates of 4 inches per hour or more.
• HURRICANE HARVEY: Continuing Coverage
At the time the storm moves on next week, forecasters predict the Houston area could receive rainfall totals of 15 to 25 inches and isolated amounts up to 35 inches were anticipated.
Fueled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, the storm now had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph Friday morning, just shy of the benchmark for a Category 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. The center expected the storm to reach that mark before it makes landfall late Friday or early Saturday.
Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said early Friday that Harvey was a “very serious” threat and that the window for evacuating was quickly closing.
“Texas is about to get hit by a major hurricane,” Long said. “We’re going to see significant rainfall over the next three days. There’s going to be damage.”
Landfall was predicted along the central Texas coast, between Port O’Connor and Matagorda Bay. The stretch of coastline spans about 30 miles roughly 70 miles northeast of Corpus Christi.
The center reports the storm has the potential to produce winds hitting 125 mph and storm surges of 12 feet.
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