Gas prices spike as Hurricane Harvey readies to make landfall

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Hurricane Harvey intensified early on Friday into potentially the most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in more than a decade, as authorities warned locals to shelter from what could be life-threatening winds and floods.

Harvey is set to make landfall late Friday or early Saturday on the central Texas coast where Corpus Christi and Houston are home to some of the biggest U.S. refineries. Oil and gas operations have already been disrupted and gasoline prices have spiked.

SEE ALSO: Harvey strengthens into hurricane as US region takes cover

"Now is the time to urgently hide from the wind. Failure to adequately shelter may result in serious injury, loss of life, or immense human suffering," the National Weather Service said.

Harvey grew into a category 2 storm with winds of 110 mph (177 kph) as it moved northwest about 145 miles (233 km) off Port O'Connor, Texas, the National Hurricane Center said.

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Hurricane Harvey
An aerial photo shows damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas, U.S., August 31, 2017. Photo taken August 31, 2017. REUTERS/DroneBase TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Houses are seen submerged in flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in Northwest Houston, Texas, U.S. August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
David Michaelis holds his 3-year-old grandson Teddy as he wades through flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Orange, Texas, U.S., August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A man carries a dog from a rescue boat as it evacuates people from the rising waters of Buffalo Bayou following Hurricane Harvey in a neighborhood west of Houston, Texas, U.S., August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Residents evacuate neighborhood left flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey in West Houston, Texas, U.S. August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
People carry their possessions from the rising waters of Buffalo Bayou following Hurricane Harvey in a neighborhood west of Houston, Texas, U.S., August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
People wait to get into one of the few open grocery stores after Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
David Gonzalez comforts his wife Kathy after being rescued from their home flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey in Orange, Texas, U.S., August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Residents talk as flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise in Orange, Texas, U.S., August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A car gets towed while men walk in the flooded waters of Telephone Rd. in Houston Houston, Texas on August 30, 2017. Monster storm Harvey made landfall again Wednesday in Louisiana, evoking painful memories of Hurricane Katrina's deadly strike 12 years ago, as time was running out in Texas to find survivors in the raging floodwaters. / AFP PHOTO / Thomas B. Shea (Photo credit should read THOMAS B. SHEA/AFP/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 30: Friends reunite in the middle of a flooded intersection as water continues to rise in their neighborhood following Hurricane Harvey on August 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi August 25, has dumped nearly 50 inches of rain in and around Houston. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Residents wait to be rescued from the flood waters of Tropical Storm Harvey in Beaumont Place, Houston, Texas, U.S., on August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Residents wade through flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Beaumont Place, Houston, Texas, U.S., on August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A woman carries her dog into a collector's vintage military truck to evacuate from flood waters from Hurricane Harvey in Dickinson, Texas August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A rescue helicopter hovers in the background as an elderly woman and her poodle use an air mattress to float above flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey while waiting to be rescued from Scarsdale Boulevard in Houston, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Interstate highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey seen during widespread flooding in Houston, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Craig "Cajun" Uggen, 57, nearly floods his truck as Hurricane Harvey comes ashore in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. Minutes later, high winds blew off the camper carrying all of his belongings. REUTERS/Brian Thevenot TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Traffic lights lie on a street after being knocked down, as Hurricane Harvey approaches in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Local residents watch the storm in the dark after a citywide power failure as Hurricane Harvey hit Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. Harvey on Friday further intensified into a dangerous category four storm, just hours before it was due to slam into the Texas coast, US meteorologists said. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Waves pound the shore from approaching Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Maria Jaramillo (C) and other guests of the TownPlace Suites hotel wait out Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a major hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
TEXAS, Aug. 25, 2017 -- An employee holds a sign showing water has sold out in a chained market in Houston, the United States, Aug. 24, 2017. The populations in the southern part of Texas are preparing for significant impacts from Hurricane Harvey as it is expected to make landfall as a Category 3 Hurricane from the Gulf of Mexico on Friday. (Xinhua/Liu Liwei via Getty Images)
Bottles of water and other drinks sit in a nearly emptied shelf at a Kroger Co. grocery store in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. Hurricane Harvey, set to make landfall on the center of the Texas coast late Friday, is expected to hit a refinery-rich stretch of the Gulf Coast and U.S. drivers could soon see the impact at the gas pump. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: A sign blows in the wind after being partially torn from its frame by winds from Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a major hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A man takes a selfie photograph on seawall by the Gulf of Mexico ahead of Hurricane Harvey in Galveston, Texas, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey�strengthened as it headed toward landfall in Texas, forecast to become the worst storm to strike the region in more than a decade. The price of gasoline�rallied�as it threatened to wreak havoc on the heart of America's energy sector. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Fabian Fernando his daughter, Azalee Fernandez, Rosalind Gonzalez and Roland Gonzalez (L-R) wait out Hurricane Harvey at the TownePlace Suites hotel which they felt was safer than their homes on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a major hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: A road sign warns travelers of the the approaching Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Lilyann Lewis packs pinky into the vehicle as her family packs up and evacuates their home before the approaching Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A hurricane warning sign is seen under storm clouds, above a highway approaching Victoria, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Cody Munds, Lee Martin and John Pezzi (L-R) fill sandbags as people prepare for approaching Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Bottles of water and other drinks sit in a nearly emptied shelf at a Kroger Co. grocery store in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. Hurricane Harvey, set to make landfall on the center of the Texas coast late Friday, is expected to hit a refinery-rich stretch of the Gulf Coast and U.S. drivers could soon see the impact at the gas pump. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Hurricane Harvey is seen in the Texas Gulf Coast, U.S., in this NOAA GOES satellite image on August 24, 2017. NOAA/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
Tropical Storm Harvey is seen approaching the Texas Gulf Coast, U.S., in this NOAA GOES East satellite image taken at 10:07 ET (14:07 GMT) August 24, 2017. NOAA/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A vehicle passes a hurricane warning sign under storm clouds as it heads south approaching Victoria, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Tropical Storm Harvey is seen approaching the Texas Gulf Coast, U.S., in this NOAA GOES East satellite image taken at 10:07 ET (14:07 GMT) August 24, 2017. NOAA/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Raul Barral and Carlos Guerra (L-R) walk through high wind and driving rain together before the arrival of Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The US flag lies tangled in power lines as strong winds from Hurricane Harvey hits Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. Harvey on Friday further intensified into a dangerous category four storm, just hours before it was due to slam into the Texas coast, US meteorologists said. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Amy Currin watches the weather news on her cell phone after the power went out at the TownePlace Suites hotel where she was taking shelter from Hurricane Harvey at a place she felt was safer than her home on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Some of the 35 T-45 jets arrive at Naval Air Station Fort Worth in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. Thirty-five Navy and Marines T-45s arrived at Naval Air Station Fort Worth from Kingsville as part of an evacuation in advance of Hurricane Harvey. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)
A windblown seagull looks for food before the approaching Hurricane Harvey hits Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey will soon hit the Texas coast with forecasters saying it's possible for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: An oil refinery is seen before the arrival of Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. As Hurricane Harvey comes ashore many of the countries oil refineries are in its path and have had to shut down. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Stewart Adams, of San Marcos, Texas, plays in the winds from Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
A group of people race across the street as winds from Hurricane Harvey escalated in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Street signs lie on the ground after winds from Hurricane Harvey escalated in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 26: A street light is knocked off it's base by the winds of Hurricane Harvey on August 26, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey had intensified into a hurricane and hit the Texas coast as damage is being assessed. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PORT LAVACA, TX - AUGUST 25: Waves crash against the coast as Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico in Port Lavaca, TX on Friday, Aug 25, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Strong winds batter seaside houses before the approaching Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey will soon hit the Texas coast with forecasters saying it's possible for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Strong winds batter seaside houses before the approaching Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey will soon hit the Texas coast with forecasters saying it's possible for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Strong winds batter a house on Padre Island before the approaching Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey will soon hit the Texas coast with forecasters saying it is possible expect up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents board up the windows of a home ahead of Hurricane Harvey in Jamaica Beach, Texas, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey�strengthened as it headed toward landfall in Texas, forecast to become the worst storm to strike the region in more than a decade. The price of gasoline�rallied�as it threatened to wreak havoc on the heart of America's energy sector. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A family stands outside their home the morning after their neighborhood was hit by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas, U.S. August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
A man assesses damage to the First Baptist Church after it was hit by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas, U.S. August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Business owner and resident Carlos Lopez clears debris from outside his shop which was hit by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas, U.S. August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
A McDonald's sign damaged by Hurricane Harvey is seen in Port Lavaca, Texas August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A collapsed overhead gantry lies across Interstate 37, blocking the highway due to damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christie, Texas, U.S., August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed?
A destoyed trailor at an RV Park after heavy damage when Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas on August 26, 2017. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer checks for survivors amongst destroyed houses after heavy damage when Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas on August 26, 2017. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A destroyed buildingand vehicles at Rockport Airport after heavy damage when Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas on August 26, 2017. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
ROCKPORT, TX - AUGUST 26: Lee Guerrero tries to kick open a door of an apartment after hearing his friends say they were hiding in the shower stall and were okay after Hurricane Harvey destroyed the apartment on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall in the next few days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ROCKPORT, TX - AUGUST 26: Valerie Brown walks through a flooded area after leaving the apartment that she road out Hurricane Harvey in on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall in the next few days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A Texas and US flag are seen as rain from Hurricane Henry falls on August 26, 2017 in Texas City, Texas. Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast late Friday, unleashing torrents of rain and packing powerful winds, the first major storm to hit the US mainland in 12 years. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
ROCKPORT, TX - AUGUST 26: A damaged building is seen after Hurricane Harvey passed through on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall in the next few days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ROCKPORT, TX - AUGUST 26: Terry Smith stands in the apartment that had its ceiling collapse when Hurricane Harvey hit on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Ms. Smith said she has never been as terrified in her life as when the winds started roaring through town. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall by next Wednesday. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ROCKPORT, TX - AUGUST 26: A Rockport firefighter goes door to door on a search and rescue mission as he looks for people that may need help after Hurricane Harvey passed through on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall in the next few days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A fireman walks by a burnt out car that caught fire after Hurricane Harvey hit Corpus Christi, Texas is seen on August 26, 2017. Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast with forecasters saying its possible for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A helicopter hovers above the Houston skyline as sunlight breaks through storm clouds from Tropical Storm Harvey in Texas, U.S. August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A military helicopter and personnel rescue a stranded resident from floods caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in east Houston, Texas, U.S. August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A tattered U.S. flag damaged in Hurricane Harvey, flies in Conroe, Texas, U.S., August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Ethan holds his 2-year-old daughter Zella as they walk through flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Iowa, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, U.S., on August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Nancy McBride is carried out of her flooded home by volunteer Cody Collinsworth, after returning home for the first time since Harvey floodwaters arrived in Houston, Texas September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People line up at a Walmart store that reopened Friday after Tropical Storm Harvey in Port Arthur, Texas, U.S., September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rescue personnel help Hersey Kirk into a restraint as a rescue helicopter hovers in the distance after she was rescued from her home flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey in Rose City, Texas, U.S. on August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Kent Kirk is lifted into a helicopter after being rescued from his home flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey in Rose City, Texas, U.S. on August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Evacuees who were rescued from the flood waters of Tropical Storm Harvey wait to board school buses bound for Louisiana in Vidor, Texas, U.S., on August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Submerged houses are seen by flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Rose City, Texas, U.S., on August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Up to 35 inches (97 cm) of rain are expected over parts of Texas, with winds up to 125 mph, and sea levels may surge as high as 12 feet (3.7 meters). Louisiana could get 10 to 15 inches of rain. Flood warnings are in effect for Louisiana and northern Mexico.

"Life-threatening and devastating flooding expected near the coast due to heavy rainfall and storm surge," the hurricane center said.

The storm's approach triggered evacuations and forced classes to be canceled on Friday at dozens of schools along the south Texas coast, home to 5.8 million people from Corpus Christi to Galveston.

Harvey also forced the cancellation or delay of at least 40 flights in and out of major airports in Texas on Friday, according to Flightaware.com, which tracks airline traffic.

Louisiana and Texas declared states of disaster, authorizing the use of state resources to prepare. President Donald Trump has been briefed and is ready to provide resources if needed, the White House said on Thursday.

Harvey is forecast to come ashore as a Category 3 hurricane, the NHC said, the third most powerful on the Saffir-Simpson scale. That would make it the first major hurricane to hit the mainland United States since Hurricane Wilma struck Florida in 2005.

The NHC expects Harvey to move slowly and linger over Texas for days. Some tracking models forecast that the storm could circle back out over Gulf waters after making landfall, and then hit the Texas coast again.

Houston, the nation's fourth most populous city, warned residents of flooding from close to 20 inches of rain over several days.

GASOLINE PRICES SPIKE

More than 45 percent of the country's refining capacity is along the Gulf Coast, and nearly a fifth of the nation's crude oil is produced offshore. Ports from Corpus Christi to Texas City, Texas, were closed to incoming vessels.

The government said 9.6 percent of crude output capacity was shut and 14.6 percent of natural gas production was halted.

Three refineries in Corpus Christi and one farther inland at Three Rivers were shutting down ahead of the storm. Concern that Harvey could cause shortages in fuel supply drove benchmark gasoline prices to a three-week high.

One other refinery reduced output and others were considering shutting.

Prices for gasoline in spot physical markets on the Gulf Coast rose even more, hitting a one-year high.

The U.S. government has emergency stockpiles of crude available to plug disruptions, and has regularly used them to dampen the impact on energy supplies of previous storms.

The stockpiles in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve were last used in 2012, after Tropical Storm Isaac shut down 95 percent of oil output in the Gulf and hit Louisiana. The government has not yet said if it plans to use the reserve after Harvey.

Profit margins for refineries producing gasoline rose by more than 12 percent on Thursday, on course for their biggest daily percentage gain in six months, according to Reuters data.

Houston-based energy bank Tudor Pickering Holt & Co said in a research note not to expect significant nor lasting production impacts from Harvey. But it said it would impact some production and disrupt refinery runs, imports and exports, "which will show up in the weekly inventory numbers for the next few weeks."

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Anadarko Petroleum Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp have evacuated staff from offshore oil and gas platforms in the storm's path.

The storm could also bring flooding to shale oil fields in southern Texas that produce more than one million barrels of oil a day.

EOG Resources Inc said it had curtailed drilling and shut some production in the Eagle Ford shale region. Noble Energy Inc and Statoil ASA also said they were evacuating some staff from production facilities.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Brian Thevenot in Corpus Christi; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Phil Berlowitz)

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