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Nicholas strengthens in Category 1 hurricane as it heads to Texas


HOUSTON (AP) – Nicholas strengthened in a Category 1 hurricane on Monday as it made its way to land along the Texas Gulf Coast and is expected to bring heavy rain and flooding to coastal areas from Mexico to storm-devastated Louisiana.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said the most sustained winds reached 75 mph a few hours before the planned landing.


Brandon Bell via Getty Images

The transmission towers were already underwater before Hurricane Nicholas arrived in Galveston, Texas on Monday.

Although the system was only expected to generate a fraction of the rain that Harvey did, a hurricane warning was issued from Port O’Connor to Freeport, as well as a Hurricane Watch from Freeport to the western tip of the ‘Galveston Island. A tropical storm warning has been issued for Port Aransas at Sabine Pass, as well as a storm surge warning for Port Aransas at Sabine Pass, including Galveston, Aransas, San Antonio and Matagorda Bays. Storm surge monitoring is in effect from Sabine Pass in Rutherford Beach, Louisiana.

An automated station in Matagorda Bay recorded a sustained wind of 76 mph with gusts to 95 mph, the hurricane center reported. About 50,000 customers were without power in Texas on Monday night, according to utility tracking site poweroutage.us.

In flood-prone Houston, officials feared heavy rains expected late Monday and early Tuesday could flood streets and flood homes. Authorities have deployed deep-sea rescue vehicles throughout the city and erected barricades at more than 40 locations that tend to be flooded, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

“This city is very resilient. We know what to do. We know how to prepare, ”said Turner, referring to four major floods that have hit the Houston area in recent years, including the devastating Harvey damage, which has flooded more than 150,000 homes in the Houston area.

Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo urged residents to stay off the roads Monday night to avoid risking their lives or the lives of first responders who may be called in to rescue them from the flooded roads.

“What I need every resident to do is get to where you need to be at 6 p.m. and stay there,” said Hidalgo, Harris County’s top elected official, who includes Houston. .

The Houston School District, the state’s largest, said classes would be canceled on Tuesday due to the impending storm. The weather threat has also closed several COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites in the Houston and Corpus Christi areas, and forced the cancellation of a Harry Styles concert scheduled for Monday night in Houston.

Late Monday evening, shortly before landing, Nicholas was centered about 45 miles southwest of Freeport. The National Hurricane Center said the storm was moving northeast at nearly 10 mph (17 km / h) and is expected to continue on that track overnight, moving over extreme southeastern Texas. Tuesday. Forecasters said they expected the storm to turn further northeast at a slower pace on Tuesday night and an even slower track east on Wednesday, as it is expected to drift over the southwest Louisiana.

Six to 12 inches of rain was expected along the middle and upper Texas coast, with isolated maximum amounts of 18 inches (46 centimeters) possible. Other parts of southeast Texas and south-central Louisiana and southern Mississippi could see 4 to 8 inches over the next few days.

“Listen to local weather alerts and heed local advisories on the right thing to do safely, and you’ll weather this storm like you’ve had many others,” Abbott said at a press conference in Houston.

Nicholas was heading to the same area of ​​Texas that was hit hard by Harvey. This storm made landfall and then stalled for four days, dropping more than 60 inches (152 cm) of rain in parts of Southeast Texas. Harvey has been blamed for at least 68 deaths, including 36 in the Houston area.

After Harvey, voters approved the issuance of $ 2.5 billion of bonds to fund flood-fighting projects, including bayous expansion. The 181 projects designed to mitigate damage from future storms are at various stages of completion.

University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said he expected Nicholas to be “less of a magnitude than Harvey in all respects.”

The main concern with Nicholas will be his speed. Storms have moved more slowly in recent decades and Nicholas could find himself stuck between two other weather systems, said hurricane researcher Jim Kossin of the Climate Service.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Sunday evening, ahead of the storm arriving in a state still recovering from Hurricane Ida and Hurricane Laura of the Year last and historic flooding. The system was expected to bring the heaviest rainfall west of where Ida crashed into Louisiana two weeks ago.

Across Louisiana, nearly 120,000 customers went without power Monday morning, according to poweroutage.us.

In Cameron Parish on the Louisiana coast, Scott Trahan was still finishing repairs to his home after Hurricane Laura, which put about 2 feet of water in his home. He hopes to be done by Christmas. He said many in his area have moved instead of rebuilding.

“If you get your butt flogged about four times, you’re not going to get up.” You’re 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 the Atlantic hurricane season 2021. Only four more years since 1966 have had 14 or more named storms in the Atlantic. September 12: 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2020.

Associated Press editors Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, Seth Borenstein in Washington, and Terry Wallace in Dallas contributed to this report.

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