Tropical storm
Former Tropical Storm Harvey moved toward the Texas Gulf Coast late Wednesday amid forecasts it could become a hurricane by landfall later this week. In this photo, Tropical Storm Emily is shown over the west coast of Florida in this satellite image taken July 31, 2017. Reuters

Tropical storm Harvey drifted toward Texas Gulf Coast late Wednesday, giving way to concerns that it might develop into a hurricane by landfall Friday.

If Harvey gets upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, it will be the first hurricane to hit the state since 2008, National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

In the wake of this development, hurricane and storm surge warnings were issued, and heavy rain and flooding are expected in the areas near the Texas and Louisiana coasts into the weekend and early next week, the Weather Channel reported.

The center of Harvey is located at about 400 miles southeast of Port Mansfield, Texas, but the winds have sped and are moving northwest at 10 mph, the Weather Channel reported citing NHC.

The hurricane warning was issued for a portion of the Texas coast, from north of Port Mansfield to Matagorda, including the city of Corpus Christi.

The NHC has also issued its first ever public storm surge watch, which includes a swath of the Texas coast from Port Mansfield to San Luis Pass Island. This warning does not include Galveston Bay. Such an alert is issued when there is a "possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline," within the next two days.

These threats have already started affecting oil imports to Texas. “Biggest impact of this storm will be a significant reduction of crude oil imports into the Texas Gulf Coast, resulting in refineries cutting crude rates,” Bloomberg reported quoting an email by Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. “There will also be a significant impact on petroleum product exports impacting supplies into Mexico.”

Furthermore, people residing in areas where flood warnings have been issued were advised to stay indoors, reschedule any weekend plans they have on the coast and surrounding areas like Houston, where Harvey is likely to have the most impact, Dallas News reported.

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott asked the State Operations Center to increase its readiness level to meet any contingency. The governor also declared a state of disaster for 30 counties on or near the coast to speed up deployment of state resources to affected areas, reportssaid.

On South Padre Island, located on the coastal tip of Texas, local municipalities distributed sandbags to people. Sandbags can be useful to redirect storm water and floating debris away from homes. Many people in other areas also sought out generators, plywood and other necessary goods from hardware stores to keep themselves prepared in case of torrential rains, reports said.

Twitter users also shared the latest updates and emergency measures to be followed in case of a hurricane strike.

Texas has experienced flooding from tropical storms in the past as well. In 2001, tropical storm Allison caused losses worth billions, specifically in Houston. The storm became nearly stationary for days, causing more than 30 inches of rain across portions of Houston, CNN reported.