At 2 p.m., Eastern time, the National Weather Service estimated the center of Hurricane Bret was about 60 miles northeast of Brownsville, Texas and 90 miles south-southeast of Corpus Christi.
Hurricane Bret has the "clear potential of producing a major disaster," possibly more destructive than Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the National Weather Service declared Sunday.
A vital difference between Bret and Andrew, the service's Jim Hoke said, is that the hurricane bearing down on the Texas east coast is moving much slower while carrying the same 140 mph winds.
Hoke appeared with officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to discuss preparations for the expected afternoon or evening landfall.
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FEMA's director of response and recovery operations, Bruce Bahghman, said the agency has prepared four emergency medical and relief teams for deployment once the location of Bret's landfall is certain.
Hoke said a tornado watch was to be issued Sunday afternoon on the south Texas coast to warn against twisters Bret was likely to spawn as it closed in between Corpus Christi and Brownsville. The area already was under a hurricane warning.
"Hurricane Bret has the clear potential of producing a major disaster," Hoke said. "It has the ingredients to threaten life and property in many ways. These ways include storm surge, flooding from rains, high winds and tornadoes."
He said the biggest worry of emergency workers is that barrier islands and low-lying coastal areas will be inundated by a storm surge of 10-15 feet.