Tropical Storm Nicholas has transformed into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico as it approaches the coast of the United States and is heading towards the city of Houston, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Monday evening. Accompanied by winds of 120 km / h, Nicholas “brings heavy rains, strong winds and stormy disturbances to the central and northern coasts of Texas,” NHC said in its 3:00 GMT bulletin, adding that the hurricane was 30 km southeast of Matagorda, a town a few miles from Houston.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has asked residents to heed warnings from local authorities. “We expect heavy rains this evening and tomorrow. I strongly encourage you not to take the road, ”urged Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, a metropolis still marked by the devastating Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
In a supermarket in the Houston area, the shelves were stormed Monday by residents who came to refuel before the storm arrived, especially in milk or eggs. The establishment had to implement a maximum authorized purchase quantity for water. Gas stations, too, were seeing a larger influx of customers than usual.
The storm is expected to ease on Tuesday
As of Monday evening, several roads in Matagorda and Lavaca counties, about 1.5 hours drive from Houston, had been closed due to flooding. Schools in the Houston area will be closed on Tuesday while school activities scheduled to take place on Monday afternoon have been canceled.
The Harris County Flood Management Service, to which the city of Houston belongs, also announced on Twitter that its tanks were empty and therefore ready to store as much rain as possible.
Up to 50 centimeters of rain could fall in southeastern Texas, the weather services have warned. Storm Nicholas is expected to weaken from Tuesday, while continuing its course northeast.
The “Lone Star State” is used to the passage of storms and hurricanes. But with the warming of the surface of the oceans, these phenomena are becoming more powerful, according to scientists. In particular, they pose an increasingly significant risk to coastal communities that are victims of wave-submersion phenomena amplified by rising sea levels.