Hurricane Harvey strengthens off Texas coast

HOUSTON (AP) - The National Hurricane Center warns that conditions are deteriorating as Hurricane Harvey strengthens and slowly moves toward the Texas coast.

The center says preparations for the storm "should be rushed to completion" Friday morning along Texas' central Gulf Coast.

The center says the storm has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (177 kph), just shy of the benchmark for a Category 3 storm.

Forecasters say the storm is expected to reach that mark before making landfall late Friday or early Saturday.

Millions of people are bracing for a prolonged battering that could swamp dozens of counties more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) inland.

Brock Long is the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He tells "Good Morning America" that Harvey is a "very serious" threat and that the window for evacuating is quickly closing.

Long says he expects extensive damage from significant rain over the next three days.

Fueled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, the storm is projected to become a major Category 3 hurricane. Forecasters are labeling it a "life-threatening storm" with landfall predicted late Friday or early Saturday between Port O'Connor and Matagorda Bay, a 30-mile (48-kilometer) stretch of coastline about 70 miles (110 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi.

Texas officials have been expressing concern that not as many people are evacuating compared with previous storms as Hurricane Harvey bears down on the state.

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