Harvey has been strengthening this morning, with dropping pressure and increasing winds per the latest information from the hurricane hunter aircraft and dropsondes. In fact, a special 1:00pm EDT update has confirmed that Harvey has already strengthened into a hurricane, with winds of 80mph and a pressure down to 981mb. Based on latest satellite imagery, which shows thunderstorms exploding around the eye, as well as the aforementioned new observations, Harvey may be starting to rapidly intensify. It is now expected that the storm will strengthen into a Major Hurricane prior to landfall in Texas.
The potential for the storm to strengthen into a Major Hurricane prior to landfall has been present all along, but remains highly dependent on the exact speed and track of the tropical system. As it stands today, however, the conditions surrounding Harvey are highly favorable for rapid intensification. Within a low shear environment and underneath a larger, broad anticyclone, Harvey appears likely to develop asymmetrical outflow characteristics with a strong, deep core and eyewall.
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