Texas is bracing itself for Hurricane Harvey – the worst storm to hit the US mainland in 12 years.
The category three storm, currently in the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to make landfall along the state’s central coast on Friday night.
The National Hurricane Center warned that torrential rain and storm surges could bring life-threatening flooding to Houston and surrounding area.
The storm will also strike at the heart of Texas’s oil refining industry.
Animated guide: Hurricanes
Energy companies have been evacuating staff from offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, while on land Texan oil refineries are shutting down in preparation for the storm.
As a result, US fuel prices have reached a three week-high.
Meanwhile, communities in the projected path of the storm are also preparing for its arrival.
Joe McComb, mayor of coastal town Corpus Christi, urged people to take the warnings seriously and evacuate low lying areas.
“I hope people will listen to forecasters when they say ‘beware of flash floods,” he said. “Flash floods can come quickly, and they can be deadly.”
According to the National Hurricane Center, the wind speed is currently almost 85mph (140km/h) – although gusts are even stronger.
Hurricane Harvey is also continuing to gain strength.
If it does make landfall as a category three storm, it will be the strongest storm to hit the US since October 2005, when Hurricane Wilma struck the coast of Florida.
Wilma left 87 people dead, and was part of a record-breaking hurricane season that included Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and killed nearly 2,000 people in August of that year.