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Shelters were readied for evacuees.
As thousands of coastal residents were ordered to evacuate on Friday, and others chose to leave on their own, inland cities welcomed an influx of evacuees on Friday.
Gov. Greg Abbott said the state government was preparing to assist up to 41,000 evacuees. As many as 54 shelters would be open, officials said, with the potential for that number to grow.
Dallas opened a shelter for up to 500 people, and was ready to open two more if needed, officials there said.
“We are prepared to handle much more than we are right now,” said Rocky Vaz, director of the Dallas Office of Emergency Management.
In Austin, the American Red Cross scheduled an “urgent shelter volunteer training” session on Friday as officials prepared for more evacuees to arrive.
And in San Antonio, more than 150 people were being housed at a former elementary school as of Friday morning, according to the local news station KSAT-TV. Many of those seeking shelter had arrived by bus.
San Antonio was also bracing for a possible uptick in homeless pets, and was offering incentives for people to help clear space in local animal shelters.
On Friday afternoon, Mr. Abbott urged those in the storm’s path to flee to safety as soon as possible, warning that continued flooding after initial storm surges may close off escape routes. “You may find it is too late to be able to evacuate,” he said. — MITCH SMITH in Chicago and DAVE MONTGOMERY in Houston
On higher ground, ‘People are coming to me.’
At a Houston gas station Friday, David Santa was filling up his pickup truck. He was on his way home to the Woodlands, a suburb north of Houston. Having lived in the area since 1981, he has seen his share of hurricanes, tropical storms and floods. “If I lived south of Interstate 45, I would definitely evacuate,” he said. “But I’m up north. People are coming to me.” — MICHAEL HARDY in Houston
Predictions are plentiful. Why are some wrong?
One of the terms thrown around when a hurricane is approaching land is models — what do the models say will happen? Hurricane computer models turn the complex factors that govern storms into forecasts. There are a number of leading hurricane models, and their forecasts often conflict. The discrepancies are evident in what are known as “spaghetti models”: maps that show the results of multiple models and multiple data runs in what can be a tangled mess.
Some models in the case of Hurricane Harvey show stunningly high levels of rainfall in coming days: a run on Friday from the European model forecast as much as 60 inches of rainfall. J. Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia, warned against focusing on the most extreme examples presented by any single model or run.
“That’s one isolated run,” he said. “What we tend to do as meteorologists is look at what’s known as an ensemble,” or a blending of the runs to filter out what could be outliers. Focusing on one line in the spaghetti plot is a bad idea without greater context; “that might be the worst model in the batch,” he said.
Dr. Shepherd said that models have, in general, gotten better in recent years at forecasting the track of a storm, but have not done as well at predicting a storm’s intensity.
In the case of Harvey, he said, “they’ve all been pretty consistent with the messaging,” despite varying forecasts of rainfall amounts. “This thing is going to stall out” and dump prodigious amounts of water over Houston and much of the coast. And Houston has historically been a place that is easy to flood and hard to drain. — JOHN SCHWARTZ
The storm has rerouted some cruise ships.
Cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers and crew have been ordered to steer clear of the Port of Galveston. The port, which is less than 200 miles northeast of where the hurricane made landfall late Friday, was closed until the weather clears.
Carnival Cruise Line diverted three ships scheduled to arrive at the port this weekend. Rather than docking in Galveston on Saturday, Carnival Valor and Carnival Freedom were to stop in New Orleans to pick up fuel, water and food, then stay at sea until the weather clears. The 3,666 passengers on Freedom and the 3,628 passengers on Valor will be allowed to end their cruise and disembark in New Orleans, though Carnival is encouraging them to stay on board to avoid the difficulty of traveling back to Galveston on their own.
Carnival Breeze remained docked overnight in Cozumel, Mexico, and will set off for Texas in the afternoon, aiming to drop off its 4,660 passengers in Galveston on Sunday on schedule. In an alert, Carnival said it would dock its ships as soon as port officials reopen the port. However, “this is all fluid depending on what the storm is doing at the time,” said Christine de la Huerta, a Carnival spokeswoman.
Galveston is one of the busiest cruise-docking stops in the world and has the most passenger traffic in the country outside of Florida, according to the most recent annual report from Cruise Industry News. — TIFFANY HSU in New York
The new head of FEMA faces his first big test.
With the storm, the Trump administration faces its first test in dealing with a major natural disaster. The storm will also be the first major challenge for the Federal Emergency Management Agency under Brock Long, who was confirmed as director in June by the Senate.
Mr. Long was the director of Alabama’s disaster relief agency when Hurricane Katrina hit the state in 2005, and his selection has inspired confidence among lawmakers and state disaster relief officials.
Lanita Lloyd, the president of the International Association of Emergency Managers, a trade group, told The Times last month that Mr. Long was battle-tested.
“He’s someone we know and trust and will have the agency prepared for whatever disaster might hit.” Read more » — RON NIXON in Washington