A brief-but-haunting video released by NASA on Thursday night shows Hurricane Harvey's powerful churn toward central Texas, where the slow-moving storm is expected to throttle coastal communities with high winds and up to 25 inches (63 cm) of rain.

The footage was captured just after 6pm by cameras aboard the International Space Station, not long after the tropical cyclone - aided by warm water and favourable winds - regenerated over the Gulf of Mexico.

An astronaut on board, Marine Corps Col.Randy Bresnik, later tweeted two photos of the storm with a message of solidarity for those in its path.

Harvey is expected to make landfall late Friday near Corpus Christi, striking as a Category 3 hurricane with wind speeds surpassing 111 miles (178 km) per hour.

Separate footage from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration includes striking views from one of its WP-3D Orion "hurricane hunter" aircraft as it flies through the storm's eye.

A time-lapse video, recorded moments prior, shows the plane being jostled and pelted with rain before emerging in the storm's relatively calm epicentre.

The National Hurricane Center has called Harvey's sudden strengthening "astounding".

It emerged as full-fledged hurricane only Thursday afternoon and already is predicted to be the most powerful storm to hit the United States since Hurricane Wilma battered south Florida 12 years ago.

As the Capital Weather gang reported earlier in the day, Harvey could dump up to 25 inches (63 cm) of rain - some isolated areas could see 35 inches (89 cm) - and result in massive, deadly flooding.

A big concern, meteorologists say, is the likelihood this storm will stall for four or possibly six days.

Corpus Christi has many low-lying areas and a barrier island. It's located in Nueces County, which is home to about 360,000 residents.

Though the forecast has grown only more alarming, as of Thursday night local officials had not ordered any evacuations.

The surprise hurricane is poised to be the first major test of disaster response for the Trump administration, whose appointee to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency - William "Brock" Long - was confirmed in June.

The Washington Post's Joel Achenbach, Steven Mufson and Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

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