- Whether it’s a hurricane or a tropical storm, meteorologists agree that Nicholas will be a rainmaker.
- Houston could be blasted with 8 to 12 inches of rain, and neighboring areas could see up to 24 inches.
- Nicholas is now the 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
Schools have closed and storm surge watches and warnings rushed across the Gulf Coast as Nicholas circled along the Texas coast, an intensifying tropical storm that could reach hurricane status when it will land on shore later Monday.
Nicholas, with sustained winds of 60 mph, was centered about 70 miles southeast of Port Aransas, Texas, and was heading north at 2 p.m. ET. Nicholas was scheduled to travel to the coast along the south or central Texas coast on Monday afternoon or evening.
“Strengthening is expected today and Nicholas could reach the northwestern Gulf Coast as a hurricane,” said Eric Blake, senior specialist at the National Hurricane Center. Weakening was expected on Tuesday and Wednesday as the storm moves overland, he said.
AccuWeather meteorologist Ryan Adamson was more optimistic, suggesting the storm will spend limited time over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and therefore likely not reach hurricane strength – sustained winds of at least 74 mph .
A hurricane watch was issued from Port Aransas to San Luis Pass, Texas. Almost all of the state’s coastline was subject to a tropical storm warning.
Whether it’s a hurricane or a tropical storm, meteorologists agree that Nicholas will be a rainmaker. Blake predicted that Nicholas would hammer parts of the middle and upper Texas coastline with rainfall of 8 to 16 inches, and isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches are possible until midweek. Across the rest of the Texas coast to southwest Louisiana, precipitation of 5 to 10 inches is expected.
“Life-threatening flash flood and urban flood impacts are possible, particularly in parts of the upper Texas Gulf Coast,” the hurricane center said.
Flooding rivers were also of concern.
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Louisiana, where more than 100,000 homes and businesses remain without power two weeks after the devastation of Hurricane Ida, was in a state of emergency. In Texas, Houston could be hit with 8 to 12 inches of rain, and neighboring areas could see up to 24 inches, according to AccuWeather’s forecast.
Governor Greg Abbott said resources were deployed to Houston and along the entire Texas Gulf Coast before the storm.
“We urge you to listen to local weather warnings and heed local warnings from local authorities,” Abbott said. “Make sure you avoid flooding and the effects of flooding. And be careful.”
Nicholas is heading to the same area of Texas that was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. That storm made landfall in the middle of the Texas coast, then stagnated for four days, dropping over 60 inches of rain. in parts of Southeast Texas. Harvey has been blamed for at least 68 deaths.
Schools close before the storm
A dozen public school systems near Galveston, Texas, closed for the day Monday, and schools in Galveston closed around noon. Several districts in the Houston area have closed or scheduled early exits. The Houston Independent School District tweeted that campuses and district offices will remain open Monday – but will be closed Tuesday.
Texas A&M University-Kingsville canceled classes and the school’s Corpus Christi campus switched to distance learning for the day. The University of Houston was open Monday but was monitoring forecasts of excessive precipitation and flooding. Status for Tuesday had not been determined, the school said.
The hurricane season has been among the most active
Nicholas is now the 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Only four other years since 1966 have had 14 or more named storms as of September 12: 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2020.
The National Hurricane Center also monitors two other systems in the Atlantic; chances are increasing that the systems will turn into tropical lows later this week.
The next names for the Atlantic hurricane season 2021 will be Odette and Peter.
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Following the path of Tropical Storm Nicholas
Contribution: The Associated Press