HOUSTON, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- Hurricane Harvey has strengthened into a Category 4 storm Friday evening, the first storm with this kind of power to hit the U.S. state of Texas in 56 years.
Local residents are making preparations as it is expected to make landfall Saturday morning.
Residents in some areas in Texas can expect widespread flooding, rainfall through the weekend and numerous road closures. The American Red Cross has announced that dozens of shelters in the southern region are open to the public.
On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump arrived at Camp David in Maryland, where he tweeted that he was "closely watching the path and doings of Hurricane Harvey, as it strengthens to a Category 3. BE SAFE!"
As Hurricane Harvey approaches, Governor of Texas Greg Abbott on Friday asked all Texans to heed the warnings of local officials.
"My priority, as we prepare for Hurricane Harvey, is the safety of those on and near the Gulf Coast," Abbott said, adding "that is why I am strongly urging all Texans in Harvey's path to heed warnings and evacuation orders from local officials before this storm makes landfall. My office is coordinating local, state and federal resources to prepare for and respond decisively to this storm -- Texans must also take action and treat this storm seriously."
According to the press release from the governor's office in Austin, the capital city of Texas, the governor has also asked Texans to review important safety information, instructions and tips, such as looking at evacuation maps ahead of time.
Abbott said that Trump has promised to offer federal resources to Texas ahead of Hurricane Harvey's arrival.
Abbott thanked Trump for his pledge of support, and said state officials are working around the clock along with local and federal partners ahead of the storm.
At Abbott's order, more than 700 members of the Texas Army and Air National Guards, Texas State Guard and the Texas Military Department are on standby throughout the state.
As Hurricane Harvey is approaching Texas' refining hubs, gasoline prices have already begun to rise in some gas stations in Houston.
Motorists were waiting in line for refilling their tanks at many gas stations on Thursday and Friday, while some gas stations ran out of fuel at least temporarily on Friday morning.
More than 25 percent of U.S. gasoline is refined along the Texas Gulf Coast. More than 50 percent comes from the entire Gulf Coast region, including inland Texas and Louisiana, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
Guan Linhua, chairman of Houston-based Star Energy, told Xinhua that he believes the gasoline prices would go up a little bit due to the consequences of the hurricane.
He said the oil production in the Gulf of Mexico would be reduced due to the hurricane, but the effect on oil prices in the international market should be limited.
Several Gulf Coast petrochemical plants have been shut down. Other major refiners in the Houston and Galveston areas, such as Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Marathon Petroleum, said they're maintaining operations, but keeping a close watch on Hurricane Harvey.