Nicholas gets stronger, threatening to hit Texas like a hurricane

HOUSTON – Tropical Storm Nicholas gained strength Monday and threatened to fly ashore in Texas as a hurricane that could cause up to 20 inches of rain in parts of the Gulf Coast, including the same area hit by Hurricane Harvey on 2017 and Louisiana, killed by storms.

Although the system was expected to generate only a fraction of rain like Harvey, almost the entire state coastline was subjected to a tropical storm warning that included potential flooding and urban flooding. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said authorities placed rescue equipment and resources in the Houston area and along the coast.

Meteorologists at Miami’s National Hurricane Center said the system’s main sustained winds reached 65 mph, a 5 mph increase from the early days of the day. If the winds hit at 74 mph, the storm would become a Category 1 hurricane. It was moving northeast at 12 mph and was expected to arrive at night along the central coast of Texas.

In Houston, prone to flooding, officials were worried that heavy rain that would arrive Monday afternoon and early Tuesday could flood streets and flood homes. Authorities deployed high-water rescue vehicles across the city and erected barricades at more than 40 sites that tend to flood, said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

A Houston Police Department employee is working at the city’s emergency operations center as Tropical Storm Nicholas heads toward the Texas coast Monday in Houston.
A Houston Police Department employee is working at the city’s emergency operations center as Tropical Storm Nicholas heads toward the Texas coast Monday in Houston. [ JON SHAPLEY | AP ]

“This city is very resilient. We know what to do. We know how to prepare, ”Turner said, referring to four major floods that have affected the Houston area in recent years, including the devastating Harvey damage, which 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 evening to avoid risking the lives or lives of rescuers who could 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 6pm and stay there,” said Hidalgo, Harris County’s top elected official, which includes Houston.

The Houston School District, the largest in the state, announced that classes would be canceled Tuesday due to the incoming storm. The weather threat 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 evening in Houston.

On Monday afternoon, Nicholas focused 113 miles south of Port O’Connor, Texas, and 137 miles southwest of Matagorda, Texas. A hurricane watch was issued from Port Aransas to San Luis Pass.

Between 15 and 30 inches of rain were forecast at six to 12 inches along the middle and upper coast of Texas, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 46 inches. Other parts of southeast Texas and south-central Louisiana and southern Mississippi could see 10 to 20 inches over the next few days.

“Listen to local weather alerts and be aware of local warnings about the right and safe things, and you’ll be able to weather this storm just like you’ve had many other storms,” Abbott said during a press conference in Houston.

Nicholas was heading for the same area of ​​Texas that was hit hard by Harvey. That storm hit land and stagnated for four days, dropping more than 60 inches (152 cm) of rain in parts of southeast Texas. Harvey was charged with at least 68 deaths, including 36 in the Houston area.

After Harvey, voters approved the issuance of $ 2.5 billion in bonds to fund flood control projects, including the expansion of bayous. The 181 projects designed to mitigate future storm damage are in various stages of completion.

University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said he expects Nicholas to be “magnitudes lower than Harvey in every way.”

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

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Sunday night, ahead of the storm’s arrival in a state still recovering from Hurricane Ida and Hurricane Laura last year and the historic floods. The system was expected to bring the heaviest rainfall west of where Ida attacked Louisiana two weeks ago.

Across Louisiana, nearly 120,000 customers ran out of electricity Monday morning, according to utility site poweroutage.us.

In Cameron Parish, off the coast of Louisiana, Scott Trahan was still finishing repairing his home from Hurricane Laura, which put about 2 feet of water in his home. He hopes to end Christmas. He said many in his area have moved instead of rebuilding them.

“If they make you beat your ass about four times, you won’t go up again. You will go somewhere else, ”said Trahan.

Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said via Twitter that Nicholas is the 14th storm of the 2021. Atlantic hurricane season. Only four more years since 1966 have had 14 or more storms named on September 12: 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2020.

By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press. Associated Press writers Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

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