Hurricane Harvey Strengthens to Category 2; Landfall Late Friday

Surf rises at Bob Hall Pier Corpus Christi, Texas as Hurricane Harvey approaches. // Photo by Courtney Sacco/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP, Newscred

Hurricane Harvey has strengthened to Category 2 and is on track to become a Category 3 storm before hitting Texas, making it the strongest storm to hit the state in nearly a decade.

According to the latest forecast from Accuweather, the storm is expected to make landfall late Friday night, bringing dangerous surf, beach erosion, coastal flooding and damaging winds. The storm could stall over the area, bringing as much as 10-20 inches of rain over large portions of southern and eastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana and causing particularly severe flooding. Localized areas can expect up to two feet of rain. If the storm does stall and remains reasonably close to the coast, it could remain a tropical storm through the weekend. After that, theres a chance the storm could head back over the western or northern Gulf of Mexico, potentially strengthening again and even persisting as a tropical rainstorm into the Labor Day weekend.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency for 30 Texas counties earlier this week, and mandatory evacuation orders are in place for communities along the Gulf Coast, particularly the Corpus Christi and Houston areas.

On Thursday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Louisiana.

Cruise Updates

The Port of Galveston closed Thursday in anticipation of the storm, a port representative told Travel Agent. Carnival Cruise Line guests scheduled to depart on cruises from Galveston this weekend are asked to sign up for text alerts by texting the codes below to CRUISE (278473):

  • Carnival Freedom 08/26/17 - CCL1
  • Carnival Valor 08/26/17 - CCL2
  • Carnival Breeze 08/27/17 - CCL3

We are closely monitoring Hurricane Harvey and are continuing to evaluate the projected path and potential impact on our operations in Galveston this weekend, Carnival said. At this time we have not announced any changes to our scheduled itineraries. We will provide further updates as they become available.

"Liberty of the Seas is keeping a safe distance behind the storm as she makes her way back to Galveston," a Royal Caribbean representative tells Travel Agent. "We are actively monitoring path and progression of Hurricane Harvey and will make sure to inform our guests of any itinerary changes."

The move follows a number of cruise itinerary adjustments due to Harvey issued earlier this week.

Flight Updates

American Airlines is allowing travelers impacted by the storm to change their flight with no fee. Customers traveling through Austin, Beaumont / Port Arthur, Brownsville, College Station, Corpus Christi, Houston (both HOU and IAH), McAllen / Mission and San Antonio in Texas, as well as Lake Charles in Louisiana, can rebook with no fee if they bought their ticket by August 23 and are scheduled to travel August 25 – 27, with rebooked travel to take place through August 30 between the same city pair in the same cabin class (or pay the difference).

United Airlines has issued a change fee waiver for new flights departing on or before September 1 through Austin, Brownsville, College Station, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Houston, Laredo, McAllen and San Antonio in Texas, as well as Lake Charles in Louisiana, in the originally ticketed cabin between the same city pair. The original travel date must have been August 25 – 29.

Delta has issued a change waiver for flights through Austin, both Houston airports and San Antonio booked August 25 – 26. The ticket must be reissued on or before August 29 with rebooked travel to take place no later than that same day.

Southwest Airlines has issued a change waiver for flights through Austin, Corpus Christi, Houston, Harlingen and San Antonio for customers with flights booked August 24 through 28. Customers may rebook in the original class of service or travel standby within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city pair.

Finally, JetBlue is waiving change and cancellation fees and fare differences for customers traveling August 25 – 26 through Austin, Houston and New Orleans. Customers with cancelled flights may also opt for a refund to the original form of payment. Original travel must have been booked on or before August 23.

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