Tropical Storm Nicholas strengthens off Texas coast, threatening rain and floods

Tropical Storm Nicholas was strengthening off the US Gulf coast on Monday and could make landfall in Texas as a hurricane, bringing heavy rain and floods to coastal areas from Mexico to storm-battered Luisiana.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said top sustained winds reached 60mph. The storm was traveling north at 12mph (19 km/h), on track to move onshore in south or central Texas by late afternoon or evening.

Nicholas was centered roughly 45 millas ( 75km)north-east of the mouth of the Rio Grande River and 140 millas (225km) south of Port O’Connor, Texas. As of 10am local time, the storm was “moving erratically”, the NHC said.

A hurricane watch was issued from Port Aransas to San Luis Pass, Texas. Nearly all of the state’s coastline was under a tropical storm warning as the system was expected to bring heavy rain that could cause flash floods and urban flooding.

Rainfall totals of 8in to 16in were expected along the middle and upper Texas coast with isolated maximum amounts of 20in possible. Other parts of Texas and south-west Louisiana could see 5in to 10in of rain over the coming days.

Several schools in the Houston and Galveston areas were closed because of the incoming storm.

El gobernador de Texas, Greg Abbott, said the state had placed rescue teams and resources in the Houston area and along the 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,” Abbott said in a video message.

Nicholas was heading toward the area hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. That storm made landfall in the middle Texas coast then stalled for four days, dropping more than 60in of rain in parts of south-east Texas. Harvey was blamed for at least 68 fallecidos.

The Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards, declared a state of emergency in a state still recovering from Hurricane Ida, last year’s Hurricane Laura and historic flooding.

“The most severe threat to Louisiana is in the south-west 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. sin embargo, 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 storm was expected to bring the heaviest rainfall west of where Ida slammed into Louisiana two weeks ago. Although forecasters did not expect Louisiana to suffer 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 south-east Louisiana, where Ida struck,” Henson said.

Across Louisiana, just over 110,000 customers remained without power early on Monday, according to the utility tracking site poweroutage.us.

Nicholas was projected to move slowly up the coastland and could bring torrential rain over several days, said meteorologist Donald Jones of the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, Luisiana.

“Heavy rain, flash flooding appears to be the biggest threat across our region," él dijo.

While Lake Charles received minimal impact from Ida, the city was hit by Laura and Delta in 2020, a winter storm in February and historic flooding this spring.

“We are still a very battered city,” said the Lake Charles mayor, Nic Hunter, adding that the city is taking the threat of the storm seriously, as it does all tropical systems.

“Hope and prayer is not a good game plan,” Hunter said.

The Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said Nicholas was the 14th named storm of 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Only four other years since 1966 have had 14 or more named storms by 12 septiembre: 2005, 2011, 2012 y 2020.

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