Tropical storm Nicholas upgraded to Hurricane, Texans on high alert

Debris from palm trees blow down the street as winds pick up as Tropical Storm Nicholas approaches Texas Photograph: Elizabeth Conley/AP

Tropical cyclone Nicholas has intensified into a Category 1 hurricane as it approaches the Texas Gulf Coast. It is anticipated to bring torrential rain and flooding to coastal areas from Mexico to storm-ravaged Louisiana.

According to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, top sustained winds hit 75 mph (120 km/h). The storm was moving north-northeast at 10 miles per hour (17 kilometers per hour). It was expected to pass near Matagorda Bay in the upper Texas Gulf Coast later Monday, then move onshore along the southeast Texas coast into Tuesday evening.

Nicholas was centered about 45 miles (75 kilometers) southwest of Freeport, Texas, late Monday.

On Monday, Tropical Storm Nicholas intensified and threatened to make landfall in Texas as a hurricane, bringing up to 20 inches of rain to areas of the Gulf Coast, including the same area affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and storm-ravaged Louisiana.

Even though the system was only projected to produce a fraction of the rain that Harvey did, nearly the whole state's coastline was under a tropical storm warning, which included the possibility of flash floods and urban flooding. According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, authorities have sent rescue personnel and resources in the Houston area and along the coast.

Officials in flood-prone Houston are concerned that heavy rain forecast late Monday and early Tuesday would inundate streets and homes. Mayor Sylvester Turner said authorities deployed high-water rescue vehicles throughout the city and constructed barricades at more than 40 flood-prone spots.

“This city is a survivor. We've figured out what we need to do. We know how to prepare,” Turner said, referring to four major flood events in the Houston area in recent years, including the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, which flooded more than 150,000 homes. At least 68 people have died due to Harvey, with 36 of them in the Houston region.

Residents were warned to remain off the roads Monday evening by Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo to prevent endangering themselves or first responders who might be required to rescue them from flooded roadways.

Hidalgo, the top elected official in Harris County, including Houston, said, “What I need each resident to do is get where they need to be by 6 p.m. and stay there.”

Because of the impending hurricane, the Houston school system, the state's largest, announced that classes would be canceled on Tuesday. Due to the weather, multiple Covid-19 testing and immunization sites were also closed, and a Harry Styles concert was canceled.

Rainfall of six to twelve inches (15 to 30 cm) was forecast along the middle and upper Texas coasts, with isolated maximum amounts of 18 inches (46 cm) likely.

Governor John Bel Edwards announced a state of emergency in Louisiana late Sunday night, ahead of the storm's arrival in a state still reeling from Hurricane Ida, Hurricane Laura last year, and catastrophic flooding. The heaviest rainfall was forecast to fall west of where Ida blasted into Louisiana two weeks ago.

Publish : 2021-09-14 11:13:00

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