Texas is bracing itself for the storm of the decade as Hurricane Harvey barrels towards the state, which is expecting catastrophic flooding, power outages, winds up to 130mph and 30 inches of rain.
Final preparations were being made on Friday morning, as officials emphasised that the situation was 'very serious' and said that the window for evacuation from flood-threatened coastal areas was closing quickly, reports Daily Mail.
The National Weather Service on Friday morning urged that preparations should be 'rushed to completion' adding that 'conditions are expected to deteriorate throughout the day'.
The US National Hurricane centre said Harvey has 'rapidly intensified' and experts say weather conditions have created the perfect recipe for the monster Category 3 hurricane to form and crash into Texas later on Friday.
The national guard has been mobilised amid fears over life-threatening flash flooding, which poses 'a grave risk' to Texans as the hurricane is expected to be the strongest to hit the United States mainland in 12 years since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
Local mayors have warned residents 'to get out of Dodge' as flooded waters could cause alligators to wash up on people's front door steps.
President Donald Trump is standing by and monitoring the hurricane, ready to provide necessary resources to the gulf region, the White House said on Thursday. Trump is asking citizens to plan ahead for the storm.
National Weather Service director Louis Uccellini said meteorologists expect the hurricane to hail down with winds of 130 mph or higher and up to 30 inches of rain, which could lead to major chaos in southeast Texas.
The powerful storm is set to hammer the Texas Gulf Coast with an extremely dangerous combination of 'torrential rainfall, storm-surge flooding and destructive winds this weekend, before taking a strange, meandering path next week', the Weather Channel reported.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the State Operations centre to elevate its readiness level, making state resources available for possible rescue and recovery actions, in addition to activating 700 members of the Texas Army Guard, Texas Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard.
Harvey grew quickly Thursday from a tropical depression into a Category 1 hurricane. Fuelled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, it was projected to become a major Category 3 hurricane.
The last storm of that category to hit the US was Hurricane Wilma in October 2005 in Florida.
The storm officially became a Category 2 hurricane as of 1am on Friday morning, on track to strengthen to its expected Category 3 level by Friday night.
At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Corpus Christi's Mayor Joe McComb told people not to dismiss Harvey and to voluntarily evacuate, saying: 'We encourage the residents in low-lying areas, as they say, to get out of Dodge.'
McComb added: 'Go to a family, friend and get to higher ground.'
The mayor's warning comes on the heels of Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office sending out an alert to residents about potential sightings of alligators due to the storm.
The department tweeted: 'Gators and flooding advice via @txgatorsquad: Expect them to be displaced. Simply looking for higher ground. Leave alone until water recedes.'
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a press briefing on Thursday that Trump is ready to respond with aid to Texas and surrounding areas affected by the hurricane.
She said: 'We have acting secretary Elaine Duke who's watching this closely and very involved in the process along with the acting director for FEMA and again, I think that we are in great shape, having General Kelly sitting next to the president throughout this process.
'There's probably no better chief of staff for the president during the hurricane season, and the president has been briefed and will continue to be updated as the storm progresses.
'And certainly it's something he's very aware of and will keep a very watchful eye on. He stands ready to provide resources if needed.'
The president was previously briefed on the government's hurricane preparations from FEMA disaster relief officials earlier this month, reported The Hill.
Trump said: 'FEMA is something I've been very much involved in already. We've already taken care of many of the situations that really needed emergency funds. We do it quickly, we do it effectively, we have an amazing team.'
On Thursday, Trump released a video of him meeting with FEMA officials on Twitter, asking citizens to plan ahead for Hurricane Harvey and provided links to resources.