Tropical Storm Nicholas is churning toward the Texas coast, threatening to bring heavy rain and floods to coastal areas of Texas, Mexico and storm-battered Louisiana.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said a hurricane watch was issued for the central portion of the Texas coast, from Port Aransas to Freeport, with much of the state’s coastline now under a tropical storm warning.
A hurricane watch means sustained winds of at least 74mph are possible within 48 hours of the watch being issued.
Nicholas – the 14th named storm of 2021 – is expected to approach the middle Texas coast late Monday and could bring heavy rain that could cause flash floods and urban flooding for much of the week.
Tropical Storm Nicholas is tracking through the western Gulf of Mexico and is poised to bring a threat of flooding rainfall, gusty winds and storm surge to the western U.S. Gulf Coast
The central portion of the Texas coast, from Port Aransas to Freeport, was under a hurricane watch early Monday morning
The red-shaped area shows the potential path of Tropical Storm Nicholas. As of Monday morning, the cyclone was about 40 miles southeast of the mouth of the Rio Grande
Nicholas over several days is expected to produce total rainfall of up to 16 inches in Texas and southwest Louisiana, and up to 20 inches in coastal Texas
Winds of at least 74mph are possible from Port Aransas to Freeport, Texas
Nicholas was centered roughly 40 miles southeast of the mouth of the Rio Grande River, and 210 miles south of Port O’Connor, Texas, as of Monday morning.
Several schools in the Houston and Galveston area were closed because of the incoming storm.
Nicholas over several days is expected to produce total rainfall of up to 16 inches in Texas and southwest Louisiana, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches, across portions of coastal Texas through midweek.
Other parts of Texas and southwest Louisiana could see 5 to 10 inches of rain over the coming days.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state has placed rescue teams and resources in the Houston area and along the Texas Gulf Coast.
‘This is a storm that could leave heavy rain, as well as wind and probably flooding, in various different regions along the Gulf Coast. We urge you to listen to local weather alerts, heed local warnings,’ Abbot said in a video message.
This satellite image provided by NOAA shows Tropical Storm Nicholas in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday. Nicholas is expected to produce storm total rainfall of up to 16 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches, across portions of coastal Texas into southwest Louisiana
Shop owners in Galveston, Texas, line their doors and windows with sand bags and wooden boards to keep flood water out as Tropical Storm Nicholas approaches the island
Nicholas is headed toward the same area of Texas that was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. That storm made landfall in the middle Texas coast then stalled for four days, dropping more than 60 inches of rain in parts of southeast Texas. Harvey was blamed for at least 68 deaths.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Sunday night declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm’s arrival in a state still recovering from Hurricane Ida and last year’s Hurricane Laura and historic flooding.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned on Sunday that Nicholas could bring heavy rain, wind and possible flooding to different parts of the Lone Star state
‘The most severe threat to Louisiana is in the southwest portion of the state, where recovery from Hurricane Laura and the May flooding is ongoing. In this area heavy rain and flash flooding are possible. However, it is also likely that all of south Louisiana will see heavy rain this week, including areas recently affected by Hurricane Ida,’ Edwards said.
The center of the storm was forecasted to hit south or central Texas on Monday night or early Tuesday. Its maximum sustained winds were clocked at 65mph and it was moving north at 5mph early Monday. Gradual strengthening is possible until it reaches the coast overnight or early Tuesday.
The storm was expected to bring the heaviest rainfall west of where Hurricane Ida slammed into Louisiana two weeks ago.
Although forecasters did not expect Louisiana to suffer from strong winds again, meteorologist Bob Henson at Yale Climate Connections predicted rainfall could still plague places where the hurricane toppled homes, paralyzed electrical and water infrastructure and left at least 26 people dead.
‘There could be several inches of rain across southeast Louisiana, where Ida struck,’ Henson said in an email.
Nicholas could bring heavy rain that could cause flash floods and urban flooding for much of the week in coastal Texas and Louisiana
This map indicates that Lake Charles, Louisiana, could dump torrential amounts of rain. The city saw multiple wallops from Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta in 2020
A hurricane watch (orange band) was issued for the central portion of the Texas coast, with much of the state’s coastline now under a tropical storm warning (red area)
The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline
Rescue officials watch over the beach in Galveston, Texas on September 12 as Tropical Storm Nicholas approaches
A man surfs on the beach on Galveston Island as Tropical Storm Nicholas churns towards the Gulf Coast on Sunday
Across Louisiana, just over 110,000 customers remained without power early Monday, according to the utility tracking site poweroutage.us.
The storm is projected to move slowly up the coastland which could dump torrential amounts of rain over several days, said meteorologist Donald Jones of the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
‘Heavy rain, flash flooding appears to be the biggest threat across our region,’ he said.
While Lake Charles received minimal impact from Ida, the city saw multiple wallops from Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta in 2020, a winter storm in February as well as historic flooding this spring.
‘We are still a very battered city,’ Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said.
He said the city is taking the threat of the storm seriously, as it does all tropical systems.
Homes destroyed in the wake of Hurricane Ida are shown September 2 in Grand Isle, Louisiana. Ida made landfall August 29 as a Category 4 storm southwest of New Orleans, causing widespread power outages, flooding, massive damage and more than two dozen deaths
Abilio Viegas attempts to fix his flooded van on South Street on September 2 in Newark, New Jersey. The remnants of Tropical Storm Ida caused flooding and power outages throughout New Jersey as the Northeast was hit by record rain and tornadoes
‘Hope and prayer is not a good game plan,” Hunter said.
In Cameron Parish in coastal Louisiana, Scott Trahan is still finishing repairs on his home damaged from last year´s Hurricane Laura that put about 2 feet of water in his house. He hopes to be finished by Christmas. He said many in his area have moved instead of rebuilding.
‘If you get your butt whipped about four times, you are not going to get back up again. You are going to go somewhere else,’ Trahan said.
Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said via Twitter that Nicholas is the 14th named storm of 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
Only four other years since 1966 have had 14 or more named storms by Sept. 12: 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2020.