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The Gulf Coast of Texas and southwest Louisiana are under threat Monday, with Tropical Storm Nicholas bringing “a life-threatening storm surge, isolated tornadoes, and heavy rain of up to 20 inches in places,” the National Weather Service said.
Nicholas could turn into a hurricane before making landfall later today on the northwest Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is large, projecting tropical storm force winds up to 115 miles from its center.
A hurricane watch is in effect from Port Aransas (east of Corpus Christi) to Freeport (southwest of Galveston). Other alerts include the Houston metropolitan area, which was flooded by Hurricane Harvey four years ago.
Nicholas is currently located in the western Gulf of Mexico, about 40 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Rio Grande. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and is moving north-northwest at just 5 mph, the NHC said in its 8 a.m. ET update.
Nicholas will trigger “massive flash and urban flooding” as it will bring total precipitation of 8 to 16 inches over coastal areas of mid and upper Texas over several days this week, the NHC said.
For a wider part of the coast, including southwest Louisiana, people should expect to see 5 to 10 inches of rain, the agency said.
“This is a life threatening situation,” the NHC said, urging residents of areas subject to broad storm surge warnings to act now to protect life and property and to obey any local evacuation order.
On Monday morning, the storm was moving both slowly and erratically, the hurricane center said. Forecasters expect Nicholas to gain some momentum ahead and move further north – a pivot that will largely determine the hardest hit areas.
The system is expected to make landfall late Monday afternoon or evening. But before that, Nicholas will likely move along the shore, dropping significant amounts of rain on the coasts of northeastern Mexico and southern Texas, the NHC said.